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Cass planner Fairbanks earns two state awards

BACKUS – Crow Wing County Land Services Supervisor Chris Pence surprised Cass County Planner Paul Fairbanks with two statewide awards during the Cass County Board meeting Tuesday.

Minnesota Association of County Planning and Zoning Administrators (MACPZA) made the awards to Fairbanks in recognition of his many years of service to his county and to leading statewide the direction of land use zoning.

One is the Lincoln Award, recognizing Fairbanks’ 17 years of service to MACPZA.

This is the first time the second award, the Tina Rosenstein Outstanding Service Award, has been presented to anyone. The award cites “his service and innovations to the planning profession.” It states “his contribution to MACPZA and the planning profession has made a difference and will continue to do so for years to come.”

Cass County hired Fairbanks as the solid waste officer in 1988. He additionally became director of the environmental services department in 1995 and served in that capacity until 2005, when he was appointed county planner/solid waste officer. He continues in that capacity.

In endorsing Fairbanks’ nomination for these awards, current Environmental Services Director John Ringle wrote, “Paul was instrumental in drafting our first countywide land use ordinance in 1996. Cass was one of the first northern counties to adopt countywide zoning.”

Prior to that only shoreland properties had been under land use zoning.

“Since 1996, our land use ordinance has undergone several revisions and is currently in the latter stages of another. Paul was instrumental in developing language that allows Cass County to implement intra-lake zoning with the idea of giving greater environmental protection to sensitive areas of a lake,” Ringle further stated.

Cass designated its first “resource protection district” last fall for a portion of Lake Ada. Any new development in the protection district will be under natural environment lake standards.

“Paul provides many answers to other county planners on the MACPZA e-mail contact chain and is a valuable resource of planning and zoning knowledge, especially for planning and zoning administrators in the northern part of Minnesota, Ringle wrote.

“In fact, much of what became the Minnesota DNR Draft Shoreline Regulations were compiled from Cass County language and performance standards that Paul was instrumental in implementing through the Cass County Land Use In other environmental services business Tuesday, the county board approved a final draft of the new five-year solid waste agreement with Stockman Transfer to manage the garbage and recyclables collection site the county owns on Highway 371 north of Pine River.

That agreement expands daily collections to include household hazardous waste. Hours Nov. 1 through March 31 are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Summer hours week days are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site is open 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays year around.

It is closed New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

The commissioners authorized spending up to $44,000 to build a new storage structure at the solid waste collection site to cover baled recyclable paper products. The county will receive a higher price for recycled paper products kept dry in the new building than it has for wet baled materials, which have been stored outside until now.

Stockman Transfer, the operator, and the county divide paper product recycling payments. The county’s share of recycled paper sold will go to pay for the building. Once the building has been paid for, a higher share of net proceeds will go to Stockman.

Ringle reported to the board an assessment has been completed of larger lakes and a few smaller high traffic lakes in the county. It gives extensive data on characteristics, fisheries and clarity information on 47 lakes. The full report is available on the county website at <> .

A Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources paid for the research and data compilation. RMB Labs of Detroit Lakes processed water samples for the report. Also helping to fund the project was the Clean Water Fund, Cass County Environmental Services, the Initiative Foundation, Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District and contributions from the Association of Cass County Lakes.