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Willmar City Council hears proposed comprehensive plan ready to go to public

WILLMAR -- The city's proposed comprehensive plan will be presented for public comment and review at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the training room at the Willmar Fire Station. The plan, last revised in 1989, directs future growth and development, helps solve or eliminate development problems, and by law serves as the legal basis for zoning and subdivision control.

Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services, announced to the City Council on Monday night that the Planning Commission has spent a considerable amount of time reviewing and evaluating the plan and is recommending the council approve the plan.

The next step, he said, is to present the plan to the public. The plan is also available on the city's Web site at Council adopted is eventually required.

The introductory chapter of the 85-page plan deals with its purpose and authority. Chapter 2 presents community profile, demographics, and population and household projections; Chapter 3 talks about the natural environment; and Chapter 4 discusses land use and economic profile.

Chapter 5 deals with current and emerging issues. Peterson said the information in the chapter was garnered primarily from meetings conducted early in the process in 2006 when city staff asked the public to envision issues and trends that the city would need to address during the next 20 years.

All of that information was used to formulate Chapter 6, which addresses goals, policies and objectives, said Peterson. He said the Planning Commission focused on nine areas: economic growth; public utilities; transportation; natural resources and environmental quality; parks and open space; residential and social development; historic preservation and aesthetics; downtown development; and intergovernmental cooperation and citizen participation.

"Chapter 6 is the most important section of the plan because that is what will drive and direct future land use decisions,'' Peterson said.

He said Chapter 7 was second most important as the implementation chapter, with the future land use map that becomes the guide for future growth and discusses the physical development and where growth is anticipated to go.

The chapter also outlines some actions steps and some projects that will need to follow the comprehensive plan's adoption, including adopting an updated zoning map, and rewriting of the zoning ordinance and subdivision ordinance for consistency with the newly adopted plan, he said.

In other business, the council authorized the police department to apply for federal reimbursement for the $21,750 cost of replacing 29 bullet-proof vests in February 2011.