Process for planning Morrison County’s future begins now


(Pictured: Chuck Forss, land use planner at the Morrison County Planning and Zoning office, will be the “pilot” as the county begins the process of developing its new Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Staff photo by Lisa Wimmer)

One hundred-twelve area residents were in attendance at Wednesday night’s meeting, held at the Initiative Foundation. The meeting kicked off the planning process officially.

County Commissioner Jeff Schilling opened the meeting commenting that the needs and goals of farming and residential property owners “keep bumping heads more and more.”

With this in mind, along with appreciation toward the large number of people attending, Schilling summarized the importance of getting and keeping as many people as possible involved. “We need your input,” he said.

County Administrator Tim Houle stressed that, for Morrison County, the planning process will entail neither government nor special interest groups dictating the plan, but rather a broad, diverse, cross-sectional view representing everyone in the county.

A task force of 25 people is to be established who will actually work directly on the plan. Anyone who is interested in being a member of the task force, or who would like to nominate another person, should submit that information to either the planning and zoning office, a county commissioner, or a township supervisor. The final 25 members will be appointed by the county commissioners.

People can also contact any of those government officials at any time with input or questions. The goal is to have the new plan completed and adopted by the county commissioners by June, 2004.

The current plan under which the county is operating under was adopted in 1989, related Morrison County Zoning Administrator Roger Kuklok. “Things have changed dramatically since then,” he said.

The goal, according to Land Use Planner Chuck Forss, planning and zoning, is to try to find 25 people for the task force that can fairly represent everyone, all groups, in the county.

In getting started with all of this, the county will follow a Healthy Communities Partnership Program, which is a program of the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

The Initiative Foundation will be donating $10,000 toward the plan development. As a member of the Foundation’s Partnership Prog-ram, Morrison County will also now be counted among those who, as partners, are given priority consideration for grants, and receive 70 percent of the money that the foundation distributes each year.

Dan Frank, community development specialist with the Initiative Foundation, explained the partnership program.

“The 25 members of the task force go through and learn how to involve everyone. At least 18 visioning sessions will be held in order to get input from the public. It will be the job of those 25 people to to get it down what everyone really wants and learn how to carry all of it out.

“When you deal with so many people, you are going to have conflict,” Frank continued. “The task force members will get trained in dealing with conflict.”

He continued to explain that knowing what one wants the county to look like in the future doesn’t have to mean change, and people should also ask themselves what things they like and want to keep.

“You can compare this to taking a trip,” Frank told his audience. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re sure to get there.”

He reiterated, “We are not training 25 people to make a plan, but in how to go out and get involvement and put ideas together.”

Frank summarized key features in developing successful, healthy communities.

“Leadership is key,” he said. “You can let other people direct your future or you can try to take control and establish your own direction.” Frank pointed out that diversity in both age and economic backgrounds is important.

Also key is to establish a “shared vision,” Frank said. He went on to describe the haphazard confusion associated with no visioning and that an imposed vision is not desirable.

Areas that will need to be addressed in the final plan include various areas that the Healthy Communities Partnership Prog-ram requires be addressed; what the state of Minnesote recommends or requires; and finally, what the people of Morrison County want, or envision, for their county.

The specific structure of the plan is to include: a land component, which will include a water plan; mitigation planning; trails planning; and the healthy partners program.

Plans are to form the task force by the end of this month. Beginning in April, input from city, township and county leadership will be solicited.

Toward the latter part of this year, task force members will go through the Initiative Founda-tion’s Healthy Communities Part-nership Program.

Public hearings will be scheduled beginning in January, 2004, along with starting a draft document at that time.

More information about the Comprehensive Land Use Plan can be obtained by contacting any of the city, township or county officials or by calling the planning and zoning office.

Morrison County has also developed a web site where much information regarding the plan will soon be available. The web site address is www.co.morrison.mn.us.

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