HACKENSACK -- Cass County officials switched focus at the sixth annual planning retreat from the future of county government to the entire county's future.
The event, held Friday at Deep Portage Conservation Reserve near Hackensack, featured reports from 14 citizen committees involved in preparing a proposed, revised county comprehensive plan.
Karl Samp of the Initiative Foundation, the agency that helped fund and train the committees, said he does not know of another county in the state that has prepared and written a comprehensive plan using only its citizens and county staff.
The county declined to hire a paid consultant, estimated to have cost about $75,000.
During visioning sessions to prepare the plan, John Sumption of the Cass County Environmental Services Department said people repeatedly identified five assets the county has:
* Lakes and environment.
* Recreational opportunities.
* Small town atmosphere.
* Access to public lands.
* Hunting, fishing, wildlife.
Challenges included some localized issues, Sumption said, but repeated challenges included:
* Population growth.
* Health care.
Following is a summary of recommendations from each planning committee. The 14 committees worked within four main topics.
1. Water, Chair John Alden
Brian Larson, Data Analysis Plan: Use global positioning satellite technology to locate exact private well and septic system sites; develop data management and security policies; and create a county planning department to connect data bases currently being operated separately by different county departments.
John Alden, Surface Water Plan: Promote lake management plans; develop lake vulnerability and carrying capacity index; develop list of sensitive resource areas; develop watershed based plans; rezone sensitive resource areas (inter-lake zoning); work with county extension to train more lakeshore volunteers.
Stan Kumpula, Groundwater Plan: Adopt groundwater model as a planning tool; systematic individual sewage treatment system inspection program; develop alternative individual sewage treatment system code to encourage innovative systems.
2. Private Land Use, Mike Wetzel
Susan Sundberg, Private Land Use Plan: Preserve environmental quality and sensitive resources; encourage sustainable growth and development design; concentrate commercial in areas with infrastructure to support it; protect agricultural land (encourage truck farming, especially for naturally grown foods); enhance the county's transportation system.
Harold Brace, Subdivision Plan: Require public road access to developments; establish minor subdivision standards; require utility corridors; require storm water plans.
Bill Stocker, Wastewater Plan: Adopt performance code for waste water treatment systems; implement systematic compliance inspections with computer tracking; computer track individual sewage treatment system operating permits; have county employees inspect all sewer installations; offer aggressive citizen training program on sewer installations and operations.
Paul Fairbanks, Solid Waste Plan: Update solid waste ordinance; link demolition disposal to contractor licenses; have a central disposal site for electronics equipment; set a countywide disposal fee schedule.
3. Public Infrastructure,
Tim Richardson, Transportation: Foster cooperation between road authorities; establish method to prioritize projects; equate rail and airports; cooperative study of future transit; support recreational trails.
Bill Stroot, Utilities: Support dedication of utility easements; allow communications tower construction on county land; assist municipalities with sewer and water projects; encourage small scale power co-generation.
Tom Miller, Finance: Minimize variation in property taxes to fund capital projects; support business subsidies only within cities; recover out-of-home child placement costs from parents; analyze tax versus benefit for public lands; maximize public participation in financial planning; annual review of whether revenue received covers county cost for providing financial services to other agencies.
Dave Johnson, Facilities: Family centers or city hall staffs be cross-trained to offer some satellite county services; analyze emergency service response times/encourage medical services to locate in central Cass; revitalize Cass County Housing and Redevelopment Authority; adopt state building code; enforce truancy and educational neglect laws.
4. Public Land, Ted Lundrigan
Gary Lyall, Land Asset Management: coordinate federal, state, county, Leech Lake Reservation land management planning; establish county land management citizen committee to review practices semi-annually; seek legislation to encourage conservation easements/view sheds; establish conservation trust revolving account.
Max Gilbert, Forest Plan: Update 1971 forest management plan; limit motorized cross country travel across county land; remove permanent tree stands; prevent private parties from cutting shooting lanes in county forests.
Barry Babcock, Recreation Plan: transfer ownership of county public accesses to state or federal ownership/operation; ban permanent tree stands; ban cross country travel across county administered land; implement closed unless posted open trail use policy or open unless posted closed (land commissioner to decide); leave water surface regulation to local governments; establish recreational trails corridors; develop cooperative recreational use enforcement with state and reservation agencies.
Neville Eclov and Nate Munson, Youth Committee: There is a lack of places for youths to gather after school. They have been able to survey only a test group so far, rather than all schools in the county as they had hoped.
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