Along with the population growth of Stearns County comes pressure to develop land for residential, commercial, industrial and other purposes, adding to the potential for land use conflicts and creating new demands upon local financial resources, schools, roadways, waste water treatment systems, water supplies, law enforcement, public health services and social services. With careful planning, however, growth and development can be managed properly and can have positive impacts on local communities.
Stearns County is currently developing a framework with which to guide its land use activities by revising its existing comprehensive plan. This plan was developed in the early 1970âs and no longer accurately reflects the needs of the county. The revised plan will set forth a vision for Stearns County and will be created by its citizens, thus enabling the county to coordinate land use planning with other services, such as transportation, development of recreational opportunities and economic development.
A 25-member citizenâs advisory committee has been appointed by the commissioners to oversee the process of revising the comprehensive plan. Among the committee members are: Rose Arnold and Bob Gambrino from the commissioners and Johnnie Olson, Paynesville Township supervisor.
What is the comprehensive plan. It is intended to provide the framework for public and private decision making on land use issues and represents the official development policy of Stearns County.
The planning process is to be accomplished in three phases. The first phase is to develop a sense of what the county needs through citizen participation. The second phase is to create the plans and policies required to carry out the vision. The third phase is to implement the goals and objectives through specific action items contained in the comprehensive plan. At this time, the county is in the first phase.
Considering the size and diversity of the county, five planning areas were established to assist staff. Besides Paynesville, meetings are being held in Cold Spring, St. Cloud, St. Stephen and Melrose.
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