By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS
Twelve to 15 months of work is just beginning for the City of Winsted's planning commission.
After July 6, the same could be true for Lester Prairie.
Several months ago, the Winsted City Council hired the Mid Minnesota Development Commission (MMDC) to create a comprehensive plan for the city.
Last Monday, Matt Johnson and Gene Hippe of MMDC told the planning commission what is involved in developing a comprehensive plan.
On July 6, Johnson and Hippe will cover similar information with the Lester Prairie City Council. That council has not yet decided if it will hire MMDC.
In developing a comprehensive plan for Winsted, Johnson said the participation of the community is vital to its success. He stressed the planning commission should do continuous efforts to involve citizens.
The next meeting will be Wednesday, July 15 at 7 p.m. at the Winsted city office building.
Within its comprehensive plan the city will be required to follow 1997 legislation called the Community Based Planning Act. It has 11 goals that the legislature wanted in community planning.
Johnson said the legislature's intent of community based planning was that all counties in the state would have a plan, and the cities would conform.
McLeod County, he said, has a land use plan. Winsted's action will put it ahead of the county and other cities within the county.
Johnson felt that because Winsted would be developing its comprehensive plan while the Community Planning Act is new, the city would have more leeway to customize its plan. He said later legislative decisions will set a precedent on what a city can do.
Another benefit of hopping on the "community planning" bandwagon early is that other cities and the county will look to Winsted as an example.
The comprehensive plan will address many issues that face the future of Winsted. Covered in the the text of the plan will be the purpose of a comprehensive plan, the role of the planning commission and council; the historical, socio/economic and natural resource background of the city, and the existing factors within the city such as current land use, housing, business and industry, and the city's infrastructure.
The townspeople will be surveyed as to what they see are the needs of Winsted. The results will be incorporated into the plan. The survey would be tailor-made for the city.
Johnson said one item to plan on is continued population growth because of people moving from the metro area.
"That way you are not experiencing uncontrolled growth," he said.
The plan will also cover current and emerging issues, items that will fall under more than one jurisdiction such as feedlots and affordable housing.
It will set out guidelines for future needs of the city in relation to population growth, housing, business and industry; set priorities for the city's infrastructure and have a future land use plan that will help govern where the city's growth will be placed.
The comprehensive plan will also have several goals that are specified in the Community Based Planning Act. Those are:
The legislature also wants cooperation between local governments and Johnson said that is a part of an effective plan. He said the planning commission should make a continuous effort to involve other jurisdictions, such as the townships and neighboring cities.
"I see Winsted growing south and Lester Prairie to the north. Since you may be doing this planning at the same time, you should be talking to each other."
It was also pointed out to Johnson that Winsted has combined its school district with Howard Lake-Waverly, and he agreed Howard Lake should be involved in the cooperation efforts.
Johnson said he has already done some work on the comprehensive plan, using the Winsted history book for background information. He has also driven through the entire city and has developed a first draft of a land use plan.
Johnson also surveyed the condition of homes, using a five point scale, and was "amazed" at the homes consistently being in good condition.