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Paynesville Press - May 22,2002

City kicks off comprehensive plan

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

Paynesville's strengths are its health care facilities, its hometown feel, its school system, and the variety of recreational facilities, according to a local focus group.

Weaknesses are the strained relationship between city and township officials, transportation issues, and limited telephone and Internet service.

The visioning session - held on Monday, May 13, at the Area Center - was part of the kick-off for the city's new comprehensive plan.

The comprehensive plan is a map for the city's future development. It takes into consideration demographics, past and present land use, and area growth to assess the city's needs in the future.

The information from the meeting will be analyzed and used in the process of creating a comprehensive plan. Future comprehensive plan meetings are planned for the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at city hall. The public is welcome to attend.

The city has budgeted $25,000 for the comprehensive plan.

On Monday, May 13, Paynesville Township agreed to participate in the comprehensive plan, approving a contribution of $2,000. The township's participation means the city can apply for a $5,000 grant instead of a $2,500 grant.

Eleven members of the comprehensive plan task force and three residents were present at Monday's meeting, which was led by Chad Carlson and Craig Roob of Dahlgren, Shardlow, and Uban, Inc., consultants hired to create the comprehensive plan, They have gathered information on demographics, land use past and present, community history, and the city's physical features.

The plan will be created in a three step process.

Phase one was project initiation which included creating a comprehensive plan task force, compiling demographic and economic indicators, and a project kick-off and issues forum.

Phase two will be goals and policy development. This phase will gather information from focus group meetings and community reports.

In the third phase - plan refinement, preparation, and adoption - a draft of the plan will be prepared and submitted for local review. The plan will then be submitted to the city council for approval.

The comprehensive plan sould 10 to 12 months to complete.

Monday night's meeting marked the end of the first phase. The research presented by the planners included background on population, housing, and existing land use. Their research indicates the city has grown steadily for the past 100 years, although there was a very small drop in population in the 2000 census. In 2000, the city's population was 2,267, down eight people from 1990 but up from 2,140 in 1980.

The population of Paynesville Township was 1,378 in 2000, up from 1,307 in 1990 and 1,167 in 1980.

The median age in Paynesville is 39.9, which indicates a need for an increase in elderly care, recreational facilities, and housing for seniors in the immediate future, according to the planners.

In addition to listing Paynesville's strengths and weaknesses, the group at the kick-off meeting also had the opportunity to examine a city plat map that exhibited present land use and zoning. The individuals were also asked to envision what they think Paynesville will be like in 20 years. In this visioning exercise, the group agreed that the Highway 23 project will bring growth in population and business to the community. Given that growth, there is a possibility that Paynesville Township may eventually join with the city of Paynesville, as is happening with the cities of Rockville and Clear Lake and Rockville Township.

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