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Nisswa: Updated comprehensive plan rejected

After nearly a year of work, Nisswa's resulting updated comprehensive plan will not yet become the city's guiding document.

Acknowledging all the hard work that went into the plan over the past year, the council agreed to send the plan back to the planning commission to talk with representatives from the National Joint Powers Alliance and Region 5 about their concerns along with council member concerns with the document.

The council first voted Wednesday, Dec. 20, not to adopt the plan on a 3-2 vote. Four of the five council members need to vote for the plan for it to be adopted. Mayor Fred Heidmann and council members Gary Johnson and Ross Krautkremer voted against adoption. Council members Don Jacobson and John Ryan voted to adopt the plan.

Ashley Kaisershot of NJPA and Tad Erickson of Region 5, who attended the council meeting, indicated they'd never been involved with a comprehensive plan that was rejected.

The council still has a comprehensive plan adopted in 2007 to use.

The update process started last January. A comprehensive plan is a document that helps guide future development. The NJPA and Region 5 Development Commission helped guide Nisswa through the process, along with the steering committee made up of residents representing different sectors of the Nisswa community.

The planning commission had voted 3-2 to recommend that the council approve the updated plan. Anne Laufman, planning commission member who voted no, read comments to the council on her thoughts regarding the process. She said the plan doesn't address costs; she felt a vast majority of the community was not represented; and she said there should be measurable goals.

Jacobson also voted as a planning commission member not to recommend council approval, but said he reconsidered after learning the comprehensive plan is not a binding document, but rather a guide. He said the plan includes seven main points that provide direction to the city.

The council was troubled that the planning commission didn't unanimously recommend approval.

Ryan said he had talked to city staff who indicated they supported the plan and could work with it.

Heidmann said even though the plan is a guideline, it can be confusing to people.

Krautkremer said he struggled with the plan, saying it was too broad in some areas and some ideas weren't achievable. He suggested sending the plan back to the planning commission to rein in plans to those that are more reasonable.

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