A June 23 public forum will give people a chance to discuss a topic on nearly everyone's mind.
Lakes area growth -- driving factors and challenges -- will be the topic of an afternoon forum sponsored by The Dispatch in Brainerd. The Growth Forum is set from 1-3:45 p.m. June 23 at Central Lakes College.
Daily growth reminders come from traffic congestion to business expansions and housing demands. The challenge of realizing smart growth may be in looking ahead and planning first.
For lakes area residents it may mean looking at examples from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud and deciding what this area will resemble as it continues to grow into a regional center.
Forum moderator George Orning said the afternoon is an opportunity to look at regional growth examples and how those problems are being handled.
"We're going to get a better picture of why the commercial center is growing and learn about the kinds of infrastructure that is going to be needed to sustain this growth," Orning said.
Orning has extensive experience in planning. He works with Widseth, Smith and Nolting as a comprehensive planner in land information management department.
Orning also has a faculty appointment in the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota, where he is forming a sustainable development lake planning process for the state. CURA is a Growth Forum co-sponsor.
In addition, Orning has been prominent in area planning from efforts to author area comprehensive plans to recent work on the Highway 371 commercial development moratorium task force this spring.
Panelists will begin the forum discussion and take questions from the audience.
The five-member panel will include representatives from Minnesota Planning, area commercial development, a Twin Cities builders association, the Alexandria area sewer district and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
The Dispatch sponsored a Future Forum a year ago with panelists discussing the jobs and the area economy, planning and quality of life issues.
After the forum, The Dispatch opened a cyber chat room to offer an avenue for discussion options online to expand on forum topics.
The Growth Forum is the latest installment in providing a format to discuss issues facing this region.
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