How should Douglas County grow? Residents asked to share their ideas next weekEnvision Douglas County 10 to 20 years from now. What will it be like? How will it grow? Will our lakes be protected? Will traffic flow easily? Will businesses have ample room for growth and start-ups? Will there be enough green spaces, parks and trails?
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Envision Douglas County 10 to 20 years from now.
What will it be like? How will it grow? Will our lakes be protected? Will traffic flow easily? Will businesses have ample room for growth and start-ups? Will there be enough green spaces, parks and trails?
Douglas County residents now have a chance to help determine how those questions will be answered.
Next week, Douglas County is hosting three “community input” meetings to revise the county’s decade-old Comprehensive Management Plan.
The meetings will be held at the following times and locations:
•October 21 – Douglas County Public Works, 7 to 9 p.m.
•October 22 – Brandon Community Center, 7:30 to 9 a.m.
•October 22 – Osakis Community Center, 4:30 to 7 p.m.
All residents are welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.
The comprehensive plan determines the future of Douglas County by steering the development zoning districts and ordinances.
It forms policy related to transportation, parks and trails, natural resource use, and encourages economic development as well as the preservation of agriculture.
The revised comprehensive plan will directly reflect the values, concerns and opinions of county residents.
Citizen input is necessary to make this happen, county leaders stressed.
Representatives from the county and SEH, Inc. – a county-hired firm of engineers, architects, planners and scientists – will present information on the purpose of the plan, the process for revision and will be available to answer questions.
Those attending the meeting can expect to be actively engaged in the input process, according to organizers.
A task force has already started the groundwork on the comprehensive plan. It met in August and talked about the county’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Strengths that were identified included natural resources/lakes, a strong agricultural base, a strong industrial base, the interstate, recreational opportunities, a diverse economy/workforce, health care, good school system, water quality/quality fisheries, sewer districts, the technical college, a high draw factor, close proximity to the Twin Cities, no floodplain issues, transportation infrastructure, a county hospital and historic resources.
Weaknesses included socio-economic weakness – financial issues, lack of protection of natural environment and lakes, weak agricultural and natural resource preservation, contentious sewer issues – cost, cost of services to rural residential areas, lack of understanding between urban and rural populations, conflicting idea of what rural is, lack of preservation of small towns, lack of rapid transit, lack of major carriers at the airport, large area defined as rural residential, distance to the Twin Cities, economic disparity, zebra mussels, lack of public beaches, expensive lakeshore property, and limited amount of quality lakeshore left.
Opportunities that were identified included location – distance from major centers, still have rural areas that are rural, still have natural resources, create a boulevard along Highway 29 by Lake L’Homme Dieu, live in rural area and enjoy Alexandria’s amenities, continue with low taxes, people want to come to Alexandria, opportunities for better inter-governmental cooperation, adopt a building code, growth in retired population, and opportunity for more land dedication.
Threats included a “not in my back yard” or “not on my land” attitude, government conflicts, the trickle down effect of state budget problems, water quality, growth, zebra mussels and other invasive species, aging, unplanned growth, workforce issues with the number of retirees increasing.
For more information
More information about the comprehensive plan revision process can be found by:
•Calling David Rush, Douglas County Land and Resource, at (320) 762-3863.
•E-mailing Land and Resource Management at LRM@mail.co.douglas.mn.us.
•Visiting the website at www.sehinc.com/online/douglas.