A new planning tool takes flight

  • planning tool

  • BEFORE AND AFTER: A bird's-eye view of your valley's possible future

    CommunityViz graphics
 























Have you ever endured an incredibly boring planning meeting at Town Hall? Some developer, standing before a blizzard of maps and charts, drones on about how his subdivision will fit seamlessly into your community. You know that the size and location of the project will forever mar the incredible view over the river to the mountains and disrupt the migration of the local elk herd, but you have no way to show it. Soon, the meeting devolves into a shouting match.


Now imagine the same meeting, except this time the maps and charts are gone. In their place is a large screen, hooked up to a laptop computer. On the screen is a 3-D picture of your town, with realistic mountains and buildings and trees. As a planning commissioner plays with the mouse, the picture moves. Suddenly, you are flying over the downtown, out to the mesa where the proposed subdivision is to be located. With a click, the subdivision appears, streets and all. You fly down low, to ground level, and the new houses rise up as if you were a Star Wars pilot threading through a streaming asteroid field. Everyone in the audience instantly understands what the new development will look like. Soon, the developer and citizens are talking about a clustered development scenario that would leave much of the land open.


Welcome to the future of planning, where seeing is believing thanks to the wonders of technology and the efforts of the Orton Family Foundation. Two years ago, the foundation - which is the brainchild of Lyman Orton, founder and president of The Vermont Country Store - unveiled its powerful new planning software, CommunityViz. Not only does the software use GIS mapping technology to provide accurate depictions of the landscape, but it instantly tabulates how different development scenarios will affect everything from traffic counts to tax revenues.


The goal of CommunityViz is to help planning departments, citizens and developers anticipate problems and revise development plans early in the process, says Doug Walker, who works for the Orton Family Foundation out of Boulder, Colo. "It's about finding a common language for planning."


So far, CommunityViz has been tested in a few Western communities, including Santa Fe, N.M., and Lyons, Colo. It doesn't come cheap: The cost of the software and inputting all the data needed to operate it can run around $10,000. But the foundation is looking for partners (it's already working with The Nature Conservancy) to help make it widely available - and affordable - throughout rural America, to encourage towns and counties to team up.


For more information about CommunityViz, call toll-free 866/953-1400, e-mail [email protected] or go to www.communityviz.com. For information about other Orton Family Foundation planning tools, including the community video and mapping projects, contact Townsend Anderson, Western Office, at 970/879-2126 or [email protected]
High Country News Classifieds
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    HawkWatch International seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our awesome team! This position will provide support in all aspects of the department. We are looking...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • HAND CRAFTED LOG HOME IN TETON VALLEY
    on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.
  • ACREAGE WITH HOME, SHOP, BARN FOR SALE!
    Must see for sng/extd fam or corp retreat in pines! $1,030,000
  • WESTERN REGIONAL MANAGER
    The American Forest Foundation seeks a smart and highly motivated candidate to join our Western conservation team. The Regional Manager supports the Regional Director to...
  • TRANSPORTATION PLANNER
    Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the Integrated Transportation...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL WRITING INSTITUTE (EWI)
    with Robert Michael Pyle September 26-30, 2018, in Missoula MT.
  • REPORTING FELLOW - BOISE, ID
    Boise State Public Radio is hiring a Reporting Fellow as part of a new nationwide collaborative, Guns & America. Based in the state capitol, Boise...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Middle Colorado Watershed Council. Rifle, CO.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RIVERSEDGE WEST (FORMERLY TAMARISK COALITION)
    RiversEdge West is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with solid nonprofit management skills to lead our high functioning team and help us make an impact on...
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR WITH WRA
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a talented, organized person with great people skills, who is passionate about protection of the natural environment to work...
  • DIRECTOR OF REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
    The Wilderness Society is recruiting for an experienced Communicator for our Northwest Region. This position is located in Seattle, WA. For more information please visit...
  • SALMON RIVER IDAHO WILDERNESS RETREAT HOME
    Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • RAMMED EARTH SOLAR COTTAGE
    in 5-home conservation community & botanical sanctuary on 20 acres.
  • MEMBERSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation is looking for an enthusiastic and innovative Membership and Engagement Coordinator to help grow and maintain our grassroots voice for wildife,...
  • SR ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNER
    The City of Fort Collins is excited to announce a Sr Environmental Planner position within the Natural Areas Department. This position will be housed within...
  • HISTORICAL VACATION CABIN
    on beautiful Snow Angel Ranch located within San Juan National Forest near Pagosa Springs, CO. Lakes, fly-fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, horse trails, horse accommodations...
  • FIVE-ACRE VIEW LOT WITH WELL
    5 acres, well. Abuts Carson NF; hike fish ski; deer turkey elk.