Stearns County’s Comprehensive Plan (Shape 2040 Stearns) is intended to provide citizens and prospective citizens of the County with a broad vision of its future, extending through the year 2040. Based on this vision, the plan establishes a framework for land use changes, public investments, infrastructure improvements, and intergovernmental cooperation. The plan was developed with substantial participation from County residents, local government officials, state agencies, Township officials, and a broad range of other stakeholders.

What is a Comprehensive Plan?

Comprehensive planning is an important tool for communities to articulate desired land use patterns to ensure a safe, pleasant, and economical environment for residential, agricultural, and commercial activities. A comprehensive plan provides the overall foundation for all land use regulation in the county. In Minnesota, authority for land use planning and regulation is vested primarily in local governments. For cities and townships, the authority to plan is found in Minnesota Statutes Section 462.353. Counties are authorized to plan under Minnesota Statutes Section 394.23. Planning can help:

  • Preserve important natural resources, agricultural land, and other open lands.
  • Create the opportunity for residents to participate in guiding a community’s future.
  • Identify issues, stay ahead of trends, and accommodate change.
  • Foster sustainable economic development.
  • Ensure more efficient and cost-effective infrastructure and public services.
  • Provide an opportunity to consider future implications of today’s decisions.
  • Protect property rights and values.

The Five Pillars

Stearns County’s Comprehensive Plan includes five Pillars that articulates the County’s vision for the year 2040. The Pillars look to the current values and the character of the County to help define the priorities and direction for future decisions. The Pillars also serve as an umbrella for structuring the Comprehensive Plan’s into five cohesive areas that cover a wide spectrum of topics.

Branding: The title “Shape 2040 Stearns“ was selected by the project team in an effort to create a “brand“ and “identity“ for the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The logo represents the Plan’s five pillars and their relationship to one another.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee members played a key role in the development of the Stearns County Comprehensive Plan. Members worked closely with County staff and the project consultants in the development of the plan.

– Tarryl Clark, County Commissioner-District 1
– Leigh Lenzmeier, County Commissioner-District 2
– Jeff Mergen, County Commissioner-District 3
– Joe Perske, County Commissioner-District 4
– Steve Notch, County Commissioner-District 5
– Jason Weinerman, Planning Commission-District 1
– Shawn Blackburn, Planning Commission-District 2
– Jason Kron, Planning Commission-District 3
– Ken Massmann, Planning Commission-District 4
– Mike Proell, Planning Commission-District 5
– Richard Blenkush, Planning Commission-At Large
– Jeff Bertram, Planning Commission-At Large
– LeRoy Gondringer, Agriculture/Feedlot Operator
– George Fiedler, Township Official- Brockway (metro)
– Gerry Jennissen, Township Official-North Fork (rural)
– Tom Schneider, City Administrator- City of Albany
– Heidi Stalboerger, Township Zoning Administrator-Wakefield
– Jim Bartelme, Coalation of Lake Association President

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