The Living Pillar serves as the Comprehensive Plan’s central element for guiding future growth without compromising our rural and agricultural character and natural resources. The Living Pillar will not only guide future growth, but will also help shape the County’s policies that address rural housing needs and settlement patterns. Stearns County’s commitment to this Pillar is further embodied in the following statement and goals.
Stearns County shares a broad set of values about ourselves and the place where we live. We will continue to embrace these diverse values by supporting a full range of housing choices that meets resident’s needs at every stage of their lives, and ensure a healthy balance of housing types that meet the needs of a diverse population with diverse needs.
Land use trends within the County have included increased pressure for development, varying by location and development type. The use of land and the patterns of development affect everything from the location and expansion of infrastructure (e.g., roads and utilities), to the state of animal operations, the provision of County services, and the protection of natural resources. As such, there are portions of the County that will experience growth over the next twenty years.
The Comprehensive Planning Team worked with local jurisdictions to confirm the growth areas that were depicted in the 2008 Comprehensive Plan. In many cases, the boundaries have stayed the same or expanded through more recent planning efforts (see figure below). Outreach also determined that not every community has aspirations to grow or agree with their neighboring community’s plans for growth. This presented challenges in rectifying the growth boundaries as part of the Comprehensive Plan update. It has also been the County’s position to not dictate or advocate for growth at the community level. Growth boundaries should be established at the local level. In that respect, local jurisdictions (cities and townships) are encouraged to work together to develop a more formalized growth boundary that is mutually agreed upon.
The Comprehensive Plan can be implemented in a number of ways. On a daily basis, the document is used by County staff to review applications. The County Board, as well as other advisory commissions use the Plan when making decisions. It is used by residents and developers to understand the County’s intentions for the use of land, infrastructure needs, and planned park and open space improvements.