From Skepticism To Community Endorsement

Gilpin County

By Francois De Kock, Director of Urban Planning + Design

Gilpin County Colorado’s first Comprehensive Plan positions the county proactively for development that is imminent in a county just 45 minutes outside the City of Denver. This required an integrated planning process to prepare a plan that directs development to be fiscally responsible and environmentally sustainable, while reflecting the community’s preferences to retain the county’s rural, mountain character.

With beautiful views to surrounding mountains, many residents choose to live in Gilpin County for the wide-open vistas, slower pace of life, and simple land use regulations. Within this context, many community participants voiced their opposition to promoting or inviting any development to Gilpin County.

The planning team worked with the community to develop a strategy to manage the inevitable development in an orderly fashion, where it has the least impact on the community, and with measures in place to protect the environment. The Comprehensive Plan’s Vision Statement reveals a pride of place and forward-thinking future:

“High-quality mountain living that balances environmental sustainability and rural community values with economic diversification and resiliency.”

Resistance to development was reversed during an “A-HA” moment when it was explained that the proposed development nodes, known as “villages,” may take 20 to 50 years to be developed or even 100 years to be fully established. The community realized that by being strategic about where future development occurred, it could increase the likelihood of bringing valued services to the County.

Recognized nationally, the innovative community engagement process saw “unprecedented levels of engagement” in the County’s more than 150-year history, resulting in substantial and actionable feedback at key planning milestones that directly shaped the Plan’s goals and strategies.

With its first ever Comprehensive Plan, Gilpin County is poised for a bright future; one that respects the rural nature of the County and desire to remain a quiet community, while providing a sustainable approach for economic vitality.

Gilpin County was named a Government Experience Award winner by the Center for
Digital Government for its innovative leadership and smart use of technology, click here to learn more.  

2021 APA Colorado Chapter Merit Award for General Planning Project. Click here to view Award video.



Francois is passionate about enhancing a community’s health, economic prosperity, and quality of life by creating vibrant destinations through creative placemaking, walkability and access to open space. As a certified planner, he draws from his design experience to develop master plans that are creative and flexible; as a registered landscape architect, his planning insights lead to better and more innovative urban design solutions.