BendonAdams BendonAdams

About Us

BendonAdams is a consulting firm based in Aspen, Colorado that joins former City of Aspen Community Development Director Chris Bendon, Senior Planner Sara Adams, and Planner Reilly Thimons.

Together, we have over 35 years’ experience in city planning, historic preservation, strategic thinking, and community engagement. We have a deep appreciation of the nuanced social, cultural, built, and natural environments of communities and bring a fresh perspective grounded in practical experience to our projects.

While based on Colorado’s Western Slope, we work regionally and nationally employing our planning experiences with public and private clients, policy development, process improvement, urban design, historic and commercial design guidelines, facilitation and extensive public outreach initiatives.


Property Analysis and Entitlements

In a complicated development environment, our team will utilize our local expertise to provide you with research, due diligence, entitlement information, and recommendations for your property and its development potential.

Public Policy and Code Writing

As long-time former municipal employees, our team has extensive experience in developing progressive planning policy and drafting code language. We have authored programs on planned development regulations, subdivision standards, transferable development rights, affordable housing credit programs, parking and mobility requirements, and commercial and historic design standards.

Historical Property Analysis and Designation

Knowledge of local and national historical standards, including pre-and post-war designation programs, allows our team to provide you with a historical assessment and recommendations for your property, its preservation, and its development potential. Our team also has substantial experience and expertise in designating properties both in Aspen and in Pitkin County.

Land Use Planning

Our comprehensive planning services include, research and analysis, application drafting, working with local staff, application submittal, Board presentations, entitlements, and development agreements. Additionally, we are able transition applications from land use approvals into building permit submission.

Strategic Development Services

Understanding how to successfully navigate through the development application and building permit processes can be difficult. With over 35 years combined experience working for local government we have a deep understanding of the nuance of land use codes and review procedures.

Design and Historic Preservation Guidelines

Our team has extensive experience and a passion for writing both Design and Historic Preservation Standards that shape development. With experience in both the municipal and private sectors, we have a well-rounded perspective of development and the need for clear, user-friendly Standards that embody community values.

Stakeholder and Public Engagement

Stakeholder and public engagement is at the heart of many planning projects, and with local, national, and international engagement experience, our team can manage cost-effective, exciting, wide-reaching public and digital citizen outreach. Our team is passionate about community-driven policies that reflect local identify and long-term city visions and can deliver impactful results that guide best outcomes.

Project Management

Within the Roaring Fork Valley, our team has strong relationships throughout the development community and we are proud to act as project representatives organizing high-quality services for our clients which include surveying, GIS analysis, FAR analysis, building permit drafting and submittal, and wildfire and environmental impact analysis.

Internal Process Audits

With over 35 combined years’ experience with municipal organizations our team has created development policies and managed development review, permitting, and inspection services. Our understanding of the day-to-day workings of development processes allows our team to provide intensive process auditing reviews for our clients to ensure practical and efficient process and systems updates.

Council and Board Meetings




Community Outreach Events

Our Team

Chris Bendon

Principal and Co-Founder


Chris brings over 22 years of municipal planning management, community visioning, public engagement, and emerging leader mentorship to BendonAdams. Chris spent 11 years guiding Aspen’s development policies and managing all aspects of development review, permitting, and inspection services. Previous work in Aspen focused on development review and creation of the Aspen Saturday Market. His work as Director led to the resurgence of mixed-use projects and the arts in downtown Aspen. Chris assisted the Long Range Planner with the 2012 Aspen Area Community Plan, engaging thousands of citizens through multiple techniques ranging from personal interviews to “clicker sessions” to web-based venues. Chris has directed and facilitated several neighborhood Master Plans from initial concept through ribbon cutting.

Chris is very familiar with municipal organization and has created design guidelines, affordable housing policy, impact mitigation requirements, lighting and signage codes, and construction management strategies. During the Summer of 2015, Chris was involved in a multi-disciplinary team of Aspen staff for the “ReThink the Streets” project. The project engaged citizens through a series of creative yet simple urban design installations and analog social media techniques.

Chris has been an invited speaker for several regional, state and national functions and has received state and national recognition for public engagement, citizen participation, historic preservation, and downtown development. Chris is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has mentored emerging leaders through volunteer work with Roaring Fork Leadership.

Master of City Planning, University of Pennsylvania
Bachelor of Environmental Design, University of Colorado, Boulder

Sara Adams

Principal and Co-Founder


Sara brings 12 years of creative planning, urban design, historic preservation and community outreach experience to BendonAdams. As a certified AICP planning professional, her passion for and expertise in historic preservation and urban planning and design informs all aspects of the studio’s work. Sara’s diverse background between Aspen and New York City helps her to identify social, economic, physical, and cultural assets in downtowns. Sara provides a comprehensive review of complex land use cases for downtown developments, manages historic restorations and rehabilitations and coordinates with referral agencies and private developers to create partnerships.

During her time at the City of Aspen she regularly reported to appointed boards, citizen groups and elected officials. Composing amendments to the land use code, such as a new short-term rental program, that address concerns raised by the public and elected officials oftentimes involves incremental steps to create buy-in to a new idea. Sara worked closely with the Historic Preservation Officer to develop the AspenModern program that capitalizes on existing assets within Aspen. Developing this program involved changing community sentiment toward these assets through an education campaign and the implementation of a voluntary landmark program.

Sara has presented at numerous conferences and authored articles about historic preservation. While working for the City of Aspen, her work received 5 awards. She personally received a conservation honor award from Columbia University for the development of design guidelines to preserve historic graffiti.

Master of Historic Preservation with honors, Columbia University
Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors, Dickinson College

Reilly Thimons



Reilly brings 6 years of social planning, city and regional planning, policy development, and community and stakeholder engagement experience to BendonAdams. Reilly has extensive experience in developing and managing outreach programs in both public and digital settings and is extremely passionate about policy development and community outreach processes. Prior to working with BendonAdams Reilly worked for the City of Aspen. Over the course of her tenure Reilly was responsible for developing and implementing public and online engagement initiatives for policy development.

Reilly graduated with a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Reilly started her career in international development and community planning focusing her work overseas in Melbourne, Australia; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Mannar, Sri Lanka. She has utilized her experiences working abroad with large-scale engagement projects and underserved demographics to create strong partnerships with local communities and organizations promoting both transparency and intensive participation.

Reilly is an active member of the American Planning Association and the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association. She currently serves as an Ambassador for the International Association of Public Participation, IAP2, working with local organizations on best practice tools for public engagement.  Reilly currently is the President of the Board of the Aspen Young Professionals Association.

Master of Urban Planning, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Bachelor of Science, Anthropology / Archaeology, Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, OH


2017 Merit Award

City of Aspen Commercial Design Standards and Guidelines. Awarded by the Colorado Chapter, American Planning Association.

2017 Black Diamond Award

City of Aspen Land Use Moratorium. Awarded by Aspen City Council.

2015 Stephen H. Hart Award

City of Aspen and Aspen Historic Preservation Commission. Awarded by History Colorado.

2014 Merit Award

Affordable Housing Credits Program. Awarded by the Colorado Chapter, American Planning Association.

2014 Commission of the Year

Aspen Historic Preservation Commission. Awarded by the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions.

2010 John Keller Award

Outstanding Planning Initiative for a Small Town or Rural Area. Awarded by Small Town and Rural Planning Division, National American Planning Association. Community Outreach Process, Community Vision for the Aspen Area.

2010 Honor Award

Ski Towns Forum, Aspen. Awarded by Colorado Preservation, Inc.

2009 Community Engagement Award

Building a Community Vision for the Aspen Area. Awarded by the Colorado Chapter, American Planning Association.

2009 Award of Excellence

Citizen Participation and Community Visioning. Awarded by the City-County Communications and Marketing Association.