Committee to update county's Comprehensive Land Use Guide Plan begins its work

Cook County has begun the process to update its Comprehensive Land Use Guide Plan, which was revised in 1997, by conducting the first meeting of the plan update committee on Tuesday April 22, 2014. Chair of that committee, Shari Baker, also chair of the Cook County Planning Commission, gave the Cook County News-Herald an explanation of the process underway.

“As the committee chair, I can sum up our overall mission as ‘Nearly twenty years ago our county set a course for the future – which at that time was looking forward to 2015, and that future is nearly upon us. Now it is time for this generation of residents to define how we want our county to look two decades into the future.’”

Established by the County Board of Commissioners, the committee is charged to review and update the plan, commonly known as the county’s comprehensive plan, which provides guidance to the county on a wide range of matters including capital improvements, zoning and development, and protection of natural resources.

“Our goal this time around is to focus on attracting people, especially young people including former residents who’ve moved away, to come to Cook County and help grow our community to become more vibrant,” said Baker.

Components of the plan will address:

* Sense of Place: Definition of the core values and attributes of Cook County that need to be preserved and enhanced.

* Desired Future Condition: Description of what the county should be like 20 years from now.

* Guiding Principles: Goals and policies to guide county decisions to attain the desired future and maintain the preferred sense of place.

* Implementation Actions: Specific strategies, projects and actions to be taken to achieve plan goals.

Between now and March 2015 the committee will meet nine more times to prepare the updated document. In addition, there will be two public meetings at which the community will be invited to share its ideas and critique the draft plan. There will also be a meeting of the county planning commission to provide input into the development of the plan and another at which it will review the recommended document. The County Board of Commissioners will ultimately consider the updated plan, including a public hearing at the end of the process in early 2015.

Information on the planning process including copies of the existing plan and background materials can be obtained at the County Planning and Zoning website:  http://www.co.cook.mn.us.

Members of the plan update committee are: Shari Baker, Jim Boyd, Heidi Doo-Kirk, Donald Fehr, Janice Hall, Marland Hansen, Jerry Hiniker, Charles Laboda, Bill Lane, Gary Maciejewski, Tina McKeever, Tim Nelson, Mike Schelmeske, Tony Swader, Tom Dwyer, Kristin DeArruda Wharton, and Kim Wolff. The public is encouraged to contact members to share their thoughts regarding land use and development or to contact the County Planning and Zoning office.

To complete the land use guide update, the county has retained the consultant team of John Powers of Applied Insights North and Tony Kroska of Community GIS, both of Duluth, to assist with the development of the updated plan.

The next meeting of the plan update committee will be Tuesday May 27, at 3:00 p.m, in the commissioners’ meeting Room in the courthouse. The public is invited to attend.