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Osakis Voices: The purpose of planning and zoning

In my time as a member of the City of Osakis Planning and Zoning Commission (I was appointed in 2011), I have thought our public would be better served if they had a clear understanding of the purpose of zoning, as well as the reason for our commission's presence within the city.

The more that citizens understand the purpose of our commission, the more we can plan productively and proactively to navigate future issues, transition properties to better uses and preserve the nature of the community we love to call home.

The City of Osakis has a zoning code for the purpose to control the development of land within the community. Cities use their zoning code to the guide development in order to ensure the land gets used in a way that promotes the best use of the land and the prosperity, health and welfare of their residents. The Osakis Planning and Zoning Commission is an appointed board that provides oversight and recommendation to the City Council on issues pertaining to the Zoning Ordinance.

Most commonly, the Planning and Zoning Commission meets to discuss building permits, consideration of zoning ordinance changes, rezoning of properties, development projects, enforcement of the existing ordinance, and forward-looking issues that require a deeper dive and proactive solutions. In many cases, those meetings are productive discussions to help solve neighborhood-wide property issues, as well as balancing the future economic, environmental, and public safety needs of the city with the individual's property rights.

In the past year we have enlisted Sourcewell (formerly known as the National Joint Powers Association out of Staples, Minnesota) to provide us assistance and expertise to explore the necessary options needed to keep our Planning and Zoning Commission on top of the past, present and future development pressures. The goal is for the commission to be a force driving for consistency within our Zoning Ordinance, using the ordinance to accomplish the goals set forth in our Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is created, usually every 5-10 years, by an extensive community involvement exercise. The comprehensive planning process considers all aspects of the city, the needs, the potential growth scenarios and the guidelines for that growth.

The City of Osakis Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall on the third Thursday of the month. If you have questions, concerns, or projects that would requiring the attention of our commission, it is always a good idea to call or stop in City Hall by the week preceding our meeting to be put on the agenda for that meeting. I cannot stress enough the importance of participating in the planning and zoning of our community. It is through this avenue that we can mitigate frustrating situations and build a stronger, more sustainable path toward the future growth of the City of Osakis.

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Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.