News Release: November 6, 2014

Volunteer Planning Team Makes Final Post-Flood Recommendations for Lyons, Colorado

CHICAGO — A four-member volunteer team of planning experts, part of the American Planning Association's Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) Program, worked with Lyons, Colorado, residents, business leaders, and state and federal officials to offer recommendations for redevelopment following the devastating floods of 2013.

The Lyons CPAT final report "Living with the Saint Vrain" offers design and policy observations to help reduce future flood hazard risks and increase the community's disaster resilience. The observations and policies reflect national best practices used in other communities that leverage local, state and federal resources.

"The CPAT helped us focus our efforts on recovery at a very challenging time," said Victoria Simonsen, Lyons Town Administrator. "The CPAT produced professional maps and documents that our small town does not have the resources to produce, and they developed useful and applicable recommendations that will assist in our recovery efforts."

The team's design-related observations provide Lyons with a series of options to select as it continues its flood recovery. The eight design-related observations and options include:

  1. Living with the river, including its assets and risks
  2. Living within and adjacent to the floodplain
  3. Restoring the river landscape and creating a riparian landscape restoration plan
  4. Redefining and expanding the park system
  5. Connecting parks and downtown
  6. Providing a range of uses for vacant lots within the floodplain
  7. Eliminating confusion about resilient housing design
  8. Replacing lost housing and identifying potential housing locations

The final CPAT report also includes a list of nine specific policy recommendations:

  1. Improve the mapping of flood hazard areas
  2. Adopt a post-disaster building moratorium
  3. Provide disaster reconstruction guidance
  4. Prepare a post-disaster redevelopment plan and recovery ordinance
  5. Adopt higher floodplain management standards and consider strategic disinvestments in the floodplain
  6. Participate in programs that go beyond the minimum standards for floodplain management
  7. Improve flood risk communication
  8. Employ a third-party mediator to help modify the Boulder County Open Space regulations
  9. Enhance existing plans to improve resilience.

Prior to making recommendations to the community, the CPAT first conducted a review of Lyons' existing plans and policies. The review helped the team understand the community's overall vision and the specific initiatives in place to achieve that vision. It also ensured that the team's recommendations were grounded in an awareness of existing plans and policies.

The CPAT is part of the American Planning Association's professional institute's Community Planning Assistance Program, which helps communities with limited planning resources and also brings a fresh perspective to local communities. Through the program, teams of professional planners are matched with communities requesting assistance on a variety of planning topics such as sustainability, economic development, transportation, and housing.

"The national expertise brought by the CPAT was invaluable in providing Lyons with specific strategies for building a more resilient community that will help guide Lyons' long-term recovery effort," said Anne Miller, AICP, Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The Lyons County Community Planning Assistance Team was led by Gavin Smith, AICP, associate research professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and executive director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Coastal Hazards Center for Excellence. Team members include:

  • David Perkes, founding director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio;
  • Darrin Punchard, AICP, principal consultant with MWH Global, where he serves as the Americas Region Leader for Risk Services; and
  • Andy Rumbach, assistant professor in the Department of Planning & Design at the University of Colorado Denver.

Read more about the Lyons team

Communities seeking planning-related assistance can apply for a CPAT. The Community Planning Assistance Team program was established in 1995 to help serve communities with limited planning resources. Previous teams have recently worked in Pine Hills, Orlando, Florida; Franklin, Tennessee; La Feria, Texas; and Seven Ranches Area – Maricopa, Arizona, among other locations.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with almost 40,000 members worldwide in nearly 100 countries.


Roberta Rewers, APA Public Affairs; 312-786-6395;