City of Waubun Strategic Plan

To take advantage of the growth in its surrounding communities, Waubun wants to be a City that is welcoming and attractive to families who may work in other nearby communities, but wish to live in Waubun.  The Headwaters RDC is working with the City of Waubun to develop a three to five year action plan that will help address its present concerns related to land use, infrastructure, housing, and economic development.  The following is a summary of issues related to the four functional areas:

Land Use
The City of Waubun presently has nowhere to physically expand and is seeking guidance in developing strategies for future growth, including possible annexation.  Annexation is particularly important as it relates to new housing and economic development.

Additionally, the community currently has a zoning ordinance, but would like assistance in reviewing and updating this zoning ordinance as needed – particularly as it relates to planning for future growth.

The City is very proud of its excellent school system, but is frustrated by the fact that a lack of affordable housing options forces teachers to find their housing in other communities.  This issue has elevated the City’s recognition of the need to offer safe and affordable housing opportunities to residents – both by helping to maintain their existing housing stock, and also by ensuring the availability of an adequate supply of developable lots.  The City will use this proposed planning process to develop strategies which can address these concerns.

Economic Development
The City would like to stimulate economic activity.  Of major concern is the desire to retain the existing businesses already in town, including the grocery store, the barber shop, and other essential services.  The City also hopes to attract more essential-service types of businesses to town (for example, a hardware store).  Waubun would like to explore other opportunities for economic development, including the possibility of a locally-generated wind power initiative, and other small businesses.  The most successful strategies for economic development will likely result from making Waubun the best community for its existing and future residents.  The plan will identify strategies for enhancing Waubun’s overall sense of place.

Infrastructure (City owned facilities, sewer and water, roads)
The City needs to replace aging infrastructure and increase the capacity of its water tower.  The plan will establish priorities for action and provide the context needed to make decisions on infrastructure investments.  The City installed a new water treatment plant two years ago.  Also, its lagoons and other infrastructure facilities are in significant need of repair.  The community would like to use this planning process to identify a series of phased strategies both to repair and/or replace their existing lagoons, street, sewer and water lines and also to expand into future growth areas.  Simultaneously, the City wants to develop funding strategies for completing these infrastructure improvements.

For more information about Waubun’s strategic planning process, please contact Josh Pearson () at the Headwaters RDC.

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City of Mahnomen Develops Comprehensive Plan

Headwaters Regional Development Commission recently assisted the City of Mahnomen in completing a comprehensive plan that has identified a clear and compelling vision of the community’s future and its comprehensive goals and strategies.  Similar to a good business plan, an effective comprehensive plan includes careful analysis of demographic data that includes information on current conditions and trends affecting the community.

The comprehensive plan addresses the core issues of land use, housing, infrastructure, and economic development.  The comprehensive plan also provides the foundation for minor updates to the zoning ordinance that are needed to manage growth and development in the City.

Mahnomen is facing several growth management issues because of changing demographics and new development.  The City is experiencing change in part because of the Shooting Star Casino and Event Center built in 1994.  The casino has provided new jobs and attracted new visitors to the community, which in turn have spurred new housing and commercial development.  New growth on the eastern edge of Mahnomen includes investments by the White Earth Tribe in single family and multi-family housing and a Veterans Service Center.

The industrial park recently saw the development of Mahnomen Baked Chips and is also the future site of a new White Earth Tribal and Community College building.  Available land in the industrial park and a recent water system improvement project provide additional opportunities for economic development.

The comprehensive plan will serve as a useful planning guide on a day-to-day basis for the City.  The plan will also serve an educational function by making citizens more aware of their community, how it is structured, how it is changing, what its major problems are, and what needs to be implemented to remedy those problems.  It will be a statement of community intentions, setting forth major policies concerning desirable future development on behalf of the common good.  The City of Mahnomen is looking into pursuing an effort to identify needs and opportunities for parks and trails, a start to implementing the comprehensive plan.

The City of Mahnomen’s Comprehensive Plan can be viewed here.  If your community is interested in completing a comprehensive plan, please contact Josh Pearson () at the Headwaters RDC.

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Lake of the Woods County Growth Management

Lake of the WoodsLake of the Woods County is known as the “Walleye Capital of the World” due to the high quality of walleye fishing on Lake of the Woods.  The County is also a resort community and has many popular tourist destinations, including fishing, hunting, and other forms of recreation.  The amazing natural resources and tourism attractions are drawing people to the County.  Lake of the Woods County has seen an increase in development along TH 172 and nearby shoreland areas, from the City of Baudette to Wheeler’s Point.

So how does the County encourage development while managing growth in a responsible way?

The Headwaters RDC has helped the County start to answer that question.  The growth management project involves three important pieces:

  1. An addendum to the Land Use component of the Lake of the Woods Comprehensive Land Use Plan.  The addendum will identify the future desired condition for the growth corridor and will include a future land use map.
  2. Amend the Lake of the Woods County Zoning Ordinance.  The changes will reflect the policies in the Land Use Plan Addendum and will also integrate the Rainy/Rapid Rivers Shoreland Management Ordinance.
  3. Draft revisions to the Lake of the Woods County Subdivision Ordinance in order to meet the County’s policy objectives as well as state statute.  The free standing Subdivision Ordinance will be eliminated and instead merged into the Zoning Ordinance.  This will provide clarity on the part of the County administration as well as the developer or person wishing to subdivide.

Success for this project will be recognized when Lake of the Woods County clarifies land use policies along the growth corridor in such a way that can be easily understood and supported by residents, County officials, and people looking to develop in Lake of the Woods County.  Success will also be measured by successful implementation of amendments to the Lake of the Woods County Zoning Ordinance and revisions to the Subdivision Ordinance to match the policy objectives.

For more information on the Lake of the Woods Growth Management project, please contact Josh Pearson () of the Headwaters Regional Development Commission.

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