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|Paynesville Press - January 8, 2003|
City's comprehensive plan nearly done
After nearly 10 months of work, a new comprehensive plan for the city of Paynesville is nearly done.|
The city of Paynesville will host an informational meeting and public hearing about the proposed comprehensive plan on Monday, Jan. 13, at city hall. An informative explanation of the plan and the process used to develop it will start at 6 p.m. A public hearing, where the public can comment about the plan, will start at 7:15 p.m.
According to the city's consulting firm - Dahlgren, Shardlow, and Urban, Inc. - "a comprehensive plan is a long-range vision and guide for the future growth of the community. And a document that the city council and planning commission can use when making land-use decisions."
One of the key maps in the city's new comprehensive plan is for future land use. While the future land use within the existing city limits (within the dark border) reflects current zoning and land use, the map also identifies areas in the township (within the narrower border) that may be annexed to the city eventually and what might be appropriate uses for them.
The comprehensive plan - done with input from Paynesville Township - deals with land use within the city of Paynesville and identifies possible areas for annexation and potential land uses for any areas added to the city.
"It also basically forms a foundation for our zoning ordinances," said city administrator Steve Helget. "When we make zoning decisions, when we make land-use decisions, we'll be looking at the comprehensive plan. It should help us make decisions."
The 80-page plan includes a current land-use map and a future land-use map. The existing land-use map basically reflects current zoning and land uses, said Helget. The future land-use map identifies land outside the city's current border that could be annexed to the city and appropriate uses for that land.
The city council approved spending nearly $25,000 to make a new comprehensive plan in March 2002. An advisory committee was established, and a public meeting to gather information was held in May 2002. The advisory committee has met monthly throughout 2002. Members of the advisory committee are: Jeff Bertram, Howard Caldwell, Pat Flanders, Lowell Haagenson, Ron Iverson, Bob Jung, Kent Kortlever, Dan Lillquist, Pat Meagher, Chris Stanley, Jeff Thompson, Marlene Theel, and Dennis Zimmerman.
A new comprehensive plan was undertaken because the city had last done a comprehensive plan in 1977. It also seemed appropriate since the Minnesota Department of Transportation was starting to study the future route of Highway 23 through or around Paynesville. However, the city is almost finished with its comprehensive plan, while the future route of Highway 23 has yet to be decided. On the maps in the plan, all the routes are listed, but the maps can be updated once a final route for Highway 23 is chosen.
"A comprehensive plan is an ongoing planning document," explained Helget. It needs to be referred to and amended as needed. "You simply can't put it on the shelf," he said.
The document represents a snapshot of a vision for the community, said Helget. Factors that haven't been anticipated or considered will arise. "Right now," he said, "this is how we vision things."
In forming the comprehensive plan, demographic data for the community from the 2000 census was studied, along with transportation, existing and future land use, economic development, parks and recreation, housing, and community facilities (such as schools, etc.).
Coordinating planning with Paynesville Township - which paid $2,000 towards the comprehensive plan and was represented by township supervisor Pat Meagher on the advisory committee - was important, according to Helget. "We wanted to make sure they were involved because we're talking about future development outside our borders," said Helget.
While the city does have the power to initiate zoning changes and annexation, Helget expects the city council will continue to allow property owners to initiate zoning changes to their property as well as annexation to the city.
The comprehensive plan will act as a guide for appropriate land uses when those requests are made.
The planning commission could approve the comprehensive plan at its meeting on Monday, Jan. 13, following the public hearing. Approval by the city council could take place at its next meeting: on Wednesday, Jan. 22, starting at 6 p.m.
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