Commentary - Share ideas for comprehensive planThere is opportunity for public input concerning the Douglas County comprehensive plan update on October 21, 22 and 23.
By Gloria Stevenson, Miltona, MN
There is opportunity for public input concerning the Douglas County comprehensive plan update on October 21, 22 and 23.
I encourage everyone who lives in or owns land in Douglas County to take time to tell the task force members your ideas and concerns for the future of our county. Attend the meetings or write letters.
Although the comprehensive plan has not always been adhered to in the past, maybe if more landowners/residents are a part of the development of the update the content will be more closely honored in the future.
For me these are concerns that come to mind at this time.
1. For quite a long time I have not understood why the development of land isn’t encouraged to expand from the city boundaries out; instead, it is scattered all about the county. I am a landowner that chose to live several miles from town to raise my family in a rural setting. Since the county changed the zoning in my area to residential, I have witnessed the farms around me being divided into small tracts and new homes built. Roads that were gravel are paved now too. We are losing our rural setting due to this scattering of development.
2. Permanent loss of wildlife habitat. As this development occurred around me, I have sadly watched the habitat for wildlife diminish. In the city’s subdivisions at minimum they must set aside land for parks, there seems to be no such concern in the rural areas. Large tracts for habitat and corridors connecting them are vital if we plan to protect wildlife for future generations.
3. There seems to be lack of financial incentive for landowners to help protect the environment. This past year, the county assessor determined that my ag status was no longer valid because I did not farm 10 acres or more, have significant income from ag activity or have 10 animal units of animals on my farm. This increased my taxes over $1,000. Something should be changed in how the county and our cities participate in preserving what we have left of natural areas and how we protect the environment.
4. Run off contributing to water quality problems. The problems we have related to lake water quality is predominantly coming from ag runoff, approximately 70 percent. The other runoff issue was from activity on land that directly abuts water. If we really care about water quality, then we need to find better ways to deal with these runoff problems. I again suggest incentives.
5. As the county population grows, the need for more public recreational opportunities increases as well. I would encourage our county to continue to expand the parks, trails and recreation programs proportionately. When opportunities come up to purchase land for public use and preservation I would hope our local government would support this. We cannot make more land and it takes a long time to grow 100-year-old trees.
6. The impact of our human activity on the migration and habitat of birds. Land development and land use can remove important food sources for birds and can even cause them to disappear. The Comprehensive Plan Update should look more seriously at how we manage development to prevent the loss of birds, insects, non-game animals as well as game birds and animals, important vegetation, etc. As our county grows I hope we do a better job of balancing the new buildings and parking lots with preserved natural areas and replant food plots for the ones we remove or damage.
7. Trading damaging the air quality, draining wetlands and impairing water quality here for doing less damage somewhere else. I would hope our comprehensive plan would not support programs or permits that would allow any trading that would permit increased damage of any part of our environment here for less damage somewhere else.
Editor’s note: The meetings to update the comprehensive plan 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.