By looking at existing plans through a lens of resiliency, communities can build upon actions they are already taking to become better prepared to adapt to ever-changing conditions. The following are examples of the types of plans and codes into which resiliency can be incorporated.

 

Hazard Mitigation Plans

For more info on FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Planning:
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The Colorado Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan was a collaborative effort that identifies risks and vulnerabilities throughout the state and puts forth mitigation strategies.  It is a useful tool for informing local resiliency and other plans.

The Colorado Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan was a collaborative effort that identifies risks and vulnerabilities throughout the state and puts forth mitigation strategies.  It is a useful tool for informing local resiliency and other plans.

The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 established criteria for hazard mitigation plans. Mitigation plans include a community profile, capabilities assessment, hazard identification and risk assessment and mitigation strategies. Mitigation plans provide an opportunity for communities to identify, analyze and act on risks from natural and human caused hazard. Additionally, units of local government who wish to be eligible for FEMA hazard mitigation grant funding must have a current FEMA-approved and adopted mitigation plan. The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management provides technical assistance to communities seeking to develop or update a hazard mitigation plan.

As noted in the Understand Section, Colorado is not immune to natural hazards and will likely experience hazards with greater frequency and intensity in the future. Hazard mitigation plans can play an important role in helping communities to proactively reduce risk and adapt to changing conditions. There are a number of opportunities to integrate resilience concepts into hazard mitigation plans, or to integrate hazard mitigation plans into other community efforts in order to enhance resilience:

  • Integration of hazard identification and risk assessments into land use planning and practices.
  • Integration of climate change data and growth trends into traditional hazard identification and risk assessments in order to anticipate future risk.
    • Example: Having experienced significant flooding in the 1990s and experiencing a major population boom, Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, NC developed the Future Land Use Map and Future Floodplain Initiative Map that mapped out potential future flood events. This led to regulation of new construction in the future floodplain; the integration of the future floodplain mapping with a water-quality protection program and parks and recreation planning; and the development of initiatives like a voluntary Floodplain Buyout Program to remove buildings likely to experience repeat flooding, reduce the risk to property and lives.
  • Analyses of social vulnerability.
    • The CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index is a useful tool that uses census data to determine the social vulnerability of each census tract in the country across 14 social factors. This index can help communities identify areas that are likely to need assistance prior to, during, and after a major event.
  • Evaluation of risks and vulnerabilities and development of strategies to address  cultural and historic resources.
  • Evaluation of potential economic vulnerabilities due to known hazard risks.
    • The Economic Development Administration released in 2014 a Resilience in Economic Development Planning report after the 2013 floods that identified nine key opportunities for communities and economic development organizations, as well as state and federal agencies, to incorporate resiliency into economic development planning, such as developing a workforce resiliency strategy and offering trainings to communities on economic resiliency principles.
  • For more information on hazard mitigation plans, visit the Colorado Mitigation and Recovery Site. The Planning for Hazards Guide also provides information on best practices for developing hazard identification and risk assessment.

 

Land Use Practices

Local Planning Authority in Colorado
Authority to determine land use practices generally rests with local governments in Colorado. That means that regulations regarding planning tools like zoning and building codes are set by each local community, rather than through the state. As a result, local governments are in a unique position to build resiliency through land use codes and regulations.

Colorado’s tradition of home rule powers, along with 1041 Regulations, provides insight into local government’s role in land use practices.

Home Rule/Statutory Powers: In contrast to Dillon’s Rule municipalities that are “creatures of the state,” home rule municipalities are granted powers that allow them to create their own laws and regulations - including creating zoning codes, regulating subdivision, levying local taxes, etc. This provides local communities throughout Colorado to create local solutions that address local issues. Of Colorado’s 271 incorporated municipalities, 98 are home rule municipalities; there are also 12 statutory cities (those that only have powers given through state statute), 160 statutory towns, and one territorial charter city.

1041 Regulations: 1041 powers (called such after HB 74-1041), provide local governments the authority to “identify, designate, and regulate areas and activities of state interested through a local permitting process.” With 1041 powers, local governments have the ability to regulate a set of project areas and activities, even when those areas and activities have broader statewide impacts. Example areas and activities include: mineral resource areas; areas containing historical resources with statewide importance; site selection for airports; and site selection for new communities, among others. For more information and a full list of these areas and activities, visit DOLA’s page on 1041 Regulations.

In Colorado, most land use decisions (e.g. zoning codes) are established and enforced by local municipal and county governments. Land use codes are used to regulate development in accordance with a community’s master plan, and can range from establishing density levels for a planned community, to a home’s setback from the property boundary, to how high a commercial structure can be built.

Land use tools designed to address shocks (e.g. floods, wildfires and geologic hazards) and stresses (e.g. lack of affordable housing) are an extremely effective tool for building resilience. A number of tools from State/local and federal agencies are available that can provide information on a community’s risk to natural hazards, as well as information about vulnerable populations and community resources, such as the Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal, Community Inclusion in Colorado Maps, and the Colorado Hazard Mapping Program (see Tools for Resiliency Integration for more information on these). Local governments can then use this information, or locally developed risk information, if available, to incorporate hazards into land use codes to mitigate or prohibit development in high-risk areas (such as in the wildland-urban interface). Land use codes can also provide incentives that encourage development outside of high-hazard areas, which can help protect public health, housing stock, and commercial sectors.

A number of land use tools, are at a local government’s disposal, including floodplain development regulations, transfer of development rights, conservation easements, overlay zoning, site design standards, and stream buffers and setbacks. The Planning for Hazards Guide’s Planning Tools and Strategies provides information on these tools and others, as well as model code language for integrating hazards into land use strategies.

 

Comprehensive Plans

Resiliency concepts can be incorporated into comprehensive plans, either during full updates or by amendment.

Resiliency concepts can be incorporated into comprehensive plans, either during full updates or by amendment.

Also known as master plans or general plans, comprehensive plans lay out the long-term vision and values for a community, and outline goals and strategies for future development and growth. State statute authorizes municipalities (31-23-202) and counties (30-28-103) to appoint a planning commission [though in counties with a population under 15,000 the board of county commissioners can act as the planning commission], and each municipality in Colorado is required to have a comprehensive plan prepared by its planning commission, as per statute 31-23-206.

Comprehensive plans address a variety of issues ranging from land use and development, housing, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and protection of existing natural areas, and comprehensive plans in Colorado are required by statute to address recreation and tourism. See example county and municipal comprehensive plans from Summit County and Salida. Visit DOLA’s site on comprehensive plans, or contact DOLAs Community Development & Planning Office for technical assistance or additional information.

Communities have a number of opportunities to integrate resiliency into their comprehensive plans. A few examples include:

Integrating Resiliency in Comprehensive Plans:
Planning for Hazards Guide's section.
FEMA's Guide.
  • Land use codes are a tool that are a means to shape development that aligns with the vision and goals as outlined in the comprehensive plan. Linking these codes with hazards identified in a hazard mitigation plan can help a community avoid future development in areas that are identified as being at high-risk.
  • Long-term economic resiliency can be integrated into comprehensive plans. For example, identifying areas in a community that are suitable for commercial or industrial growth but that are less vulnerable to damage from natural hazards.
  • Affordable housing needs can be addressed as an element in a master plan. Linking these needs with potential hazards can help to reduce risk to existing affordable housing, and to avoid building new affordable housing in high-risk areas. Providing affordable housing allows for more opportunity for low-income workers to live in the community they work, can diversify the workforce, enhance social cohesion and can provide options for post-disaster temporary and permanent housing, which can help families, the community, and the local economy recovery.

The Planning for Hazards Guide provides more information on comprehensive planning, as well as FEMA’s guide on integrating hazard mitigation into local comprehensive plans.

Capital Improvement Plans

NIST's Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems provides a six-step process for incorporating resiliency concepts into local planning.  It also includes an Economic Decision Guide with methodology for assessing the amount of future losses that may be reduced by current investment in resilient concepts. 

NIST's Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems provides a six-step process for incorporating resiliency concepts into local planning.  It also includes an Economic Decision Guide with methodology for assessing the amount of future losses that may be reduced by current investment in resilient concepts. 

Capital improvement plans (CIPs) are long-term, strategic plans that represent a community’s approach for capital investments and maintenance. Projects included in a CIP can range include transportation infrastructure improvements, trail development and open space projects, event centers, water and wastewater systems, and stormwater infrastructure. CIPs are a living document, and should be regularly updated to reflect community priorities, project updates, and new opportunities for capital project development and maintenance.

There are a number of approaches for incorporating resiliency into CIPs, including:

  • Incorporating green infrastructure into capital projects: Green infrastructure is a method to incorporating designs to infrastructure projects that minimize the impacts of stormwater on the built environment. Strategies can include bioswales, green roofs, rainwater collection,  and others, and can help communities manage flooding, adapt to drought conditions, lower energy needs, and conserve water.
  • Building resiliency measures into infrastructure projects: As communities identify and prioritize infrastructure projects, they have the opportunity to incorporate resiliency measures and performance standards to make infrastructure and facilities better prepared to withstand or be more easily restored after future disaster events. For example, Boulder County developed in 2016 the Boulder County Resilient Design Performance Standard which outlines time-to-recovery performance goals for infrastructure and dependent facilities, and provides a design standard that lays out resilience criteria and associated indicators. Another example is New Orleans’ Resilience Design Review Committee, which  meets once a month to review constructions projects that are resiliency focused or have stormwater management and green infrastructure components to make sure projects incorporate performance standards that meet the city's resiliency goals.

See Colorado Tools for more information. NIST’s Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems is another resource for providing guidance on incorporating resiliency into infrastructure projects. See Federal Tools for more information on this guide.