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Regional meeting brings state speakers to lakes area

In the fall of 2010 the Region Five Development Commission received a Housing and Urban Development grant supporting a multi-jurisdictional planning effort and will be used to build economic competitiveness throughout the region.

The areas of focus are housing, transportation, economic development and land use. What participants have learned thus far and where they want to go next is part of a session planned from 4-7 p.m. Aug. 14 at Arrowwood Lodge in Baxter (formerly The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes).

At the session, participants will hear what has been achieved on the process to date and what the group hopes to achieve and hear from federal, state and local perspectives.

Bob McLean, Hunt Utilities Group/Resilient Living Council and chair of the Resilient Region Advisory Board, is scheduled to provide the welcome and overview.

Other presenters include: Dan Frank, Initiative Foundation & Stacey Stockdill, EnSearch Inc.; Deanna Hemmesch, Central Minnesota Housing Partnership; Jake Huebsch, Region Five Development Commission; Phil Hunsicker, Envision Minnesota; Tad Erickson, Region Five Development Commission; Jean Coleman, University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.

Federal observations from U.S. Sen. Al Franken. Funding agency perspective from Shelly R. Poticha, director, Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

The state panel discussion has moderator Colleen Landkamer, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development state director. Scheduled panelists include: David Frederickson, agriculture commissioner; Mark Phillips, Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner; Mary Tingerthal, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency; Michelle Beeman, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency deputy commissioner; Bev Durgan, University of Minnesota dean of Extension: and may include Mike Rothman, Commerce commissioner.

Local comment are scheduled from Cheryal Lee Hills, Region Five Development Commission and Dan Frank, Initiative Foundation.

The event includes special entertainment by the Theater of Public Policy and refreshments with time to mingle and network as part of the event.

The issues and opportunities faced by businesses, local governments and citizens are commonly shared throughout the region. Twenty-six activities in the focus areas are being addressed.

The city of La Crescent, in the southeastern corner of Minnesota, may be a valuable learning experience for every other community in Minnesota trying to find a balance of development with conservation, the group reported.

La Crescent is trying to figure out how to develop on sensitive bluff lands that rise up from the nearby Mississippi River.

A developer has already identified a hillside parcel in La Crescent on which he would like to build a housing development using conservation design principles. These include permanently protecting the most sensitive areas, limiting imperious surfaces, clustering homes in non-sensitive areas, managing stormwater runoff, and being transparent with his development intentions, but even with all those good ideas, the city still isn’t sure if its current regulations are sufficient for protecting sensitive bluff lands.

In addition, the city wants to be certain that this development proposal and future bluff land development applications adequately address the concerns of neighboring residents.

La Crescent has decided to use this issue to bring their community together to try and answer the question: What is reasonable regulation for development on sensitive lands? The city has acquired an Environmental Protection Agency technical assistance grant through Envision Minnesota that will allow it to work through its dilemma by conducting frank and open discussions with community members and including in those discussions the advice of outside experts who can add something new to the conversation. The city is encouraging civic and civil discussions about an important issue, and is open to new ideas.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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