2020 stands to be the year the community of Osakis creates a clear vision for its future. In just a month, we will embark on a year-long effort to update the City of Osakis Comprehensive Plan.

This will be the first time it was updated since 2006. With the growth the city has experienced and many potential projects in planning stages, the timing could not be better for us community members to discuss the future of the city.

I want to spend my time in this column explaining just why our Comprehensive Plan is important and how you will be expected to give your input.

In its most basic form, the Comprehensive Plan contains the facts of how our community currently exists in terms demographic, land use, transportation, utilities, environmental, housing, and facilities. The plan lays out the specific land use map of our city, which guides our zoning of how our land can be used and will be developed. The plan makes estimates on future growth and what that looks like for each area of our community. The plan sets the priorities that our community leadership should be aligning with.

The best Comprehensive Plan is a dynamic guide to our leadership and community members in ensuring the progress we seek to make is in step with the future we strive to work toward. It is also a way to preserve our historical values and create an accountable process to achieving the outcomes we desire.

Our Planning and Zoning Commission relies upon the Comprehensive Plan to guide future development in the manner we agree is desirable. Our economic development organizations use the Comprehensive Plan to prioritize their funding to grow businesses and attract businesses that will be compatible with our community. Our City Council relies on our Comprehensive Plan to remain consistent to community values, vision, and purpose. Our businesses and community institutions rely on the Comprehensive Plan to enhance their market growth, ensure that our community will grow with them, and will be a community their employees can be proud to live in. Our schools look to the Comprehensive Plan for support in the areas they need to grow the citizens that will carry our community forward into future generations.

The Comprehensive Planning process is government at the most approachable level, and it is the type of government that can help you believe in its worth. Things that directly impact your everyday life will result from this process: park improvements, facility upgrades, land development, business recruitment and development.

You are the most important part of the Comprehensive Planning process. We need your input. Please look out for forthcoming surveys and community open houses where we will be looking for clarity on what people who live in, work in, and enjoy spending time in our community want to see in our near and long-term future. Ultimately, we want this Comprehensive Plan to be a unifying process that continues to guide us in the direction that preserves what you love, improves areas that need improvement, and creates accountability to ensure these things actually happen.

Start answering the question of “what do I want changed, protected, or built in Osakis?” Look a little harder at the city as you travel around it, take note of the environment and what change has looked like or could look like in the future. Dwell on the issues you see on a day-to-day basis that matter in your life and consider how we as a community could make them easier to deal with.

Finally, think about what makes you proud of Osakis and help my fellow city leaders and I honor that in this Comprehensive Planning process. I look forward to your input!

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