In government, few topics generate more invigorating discussions than land use and property rights.
Tuesday, Crow Wing County commissioners had a lively discussion on the potential for a future land use map. Bonnie Finnerty, county planner, said the map could be used to help guide land use decisions. She said the county has had a high number of rezoning requests in the last few years and has an outdated zoning map.
Finnerty said that when land is rezoned, there is no formula to help make decisions, which tend to be subjective.
"It's better to plan for something than react," Finnerty said.
The county has options of a countywide approach that looks at multiple layers of land use, such as public uses (such as the airport or landfill), critical habitat, parks and recreation, residential, shoreland, rural preservation and rural urban transition areas. Other options are using a quilt-like pattern, following what the townships want and smoothing the edges or simply updating the zoning map.
"Any time you are talking about land you are going to involve people and passions," Finnerty said.
County Board Chairman Dewey Tautges said Finnerty did not mention individual landowners in her presentation. "The individual is my concern that's always been my concern protecting individual property rights," he said.
Finnerty said a future land use map is a guide not a law and doesn't affect individual property.
If someone wants to develop property, Tautges said people will point to the land use map as a reason not to allow it. Finnerty said that wasn't true.
"It will be," Tautges said.
Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom asked what Tautges suggested so the county could move forward with an overall plan.
"A future land use map gives you a right to play god whether you like it or not," Tautges said. "We need some long-range planning, but I've lived here my whole life and people come up here - for whatever reason - and apparently they like what we have but they keep trying to change what we have."
Finnerty said public input was used in creating comprehensive and township plans. Tautges said a small percent of people show up for those planning sessions and he questioned if they should decide what's best for the county.
"Are the other 99 percent disinterested - the answer to that is definitely no," Commissioner Paul Thiede said. "I would venture a guess that 80 percent of that 99 percent are frustrated with the way government makes decisions and they don't want any part of it because it just causes grief and frustration."
Long Lake Township supervisors attended the meeting with hopes of talking about the township's comprehensive plan developed after six months of well-attended meetings. Supervisor Tom Malloy said the county shoots down township recommendations, particularly in subdivision sizes. Town Board Chairman Bobby Thompson said they believed they had a good plan with a mix of uses - lakeshore, agricultural and land bordering Brainerd.
The commissioners heard an update from Sheila Haverkamp, Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp. executive director. BLADC's 2020 economic development vision project has five-year work plans to develop existing companies and attract new businesses.
In 2007, the county budgeted $55,000 for BLADC funding. BLADC requested an additional $20,000 this year to help implement the 2020 vision project.
Commissioners also heard an update on geographic information systems and heard that some of the data involving property information could be made available online to the public, which raised questions about board policy and potential fees for that option.
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