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Public can now review city’s plan

FAIRMONT — City planning traditionally focuses on sorting territories into residential, commercial and industrial areas, but the newly released comprehensive use plan for Fairmont goes well beyond the norm.

It is called “Fairmont Forward” and suggests and analyzes ideas to develop multiple levels of the community over the next 20 years.

The project began in 2018, and the final draft now is available on the city’s website, www.fairmont.org/community-development.

Public feedback on the plan is being accepted through Oct. 30, allowing time to prepare a final document for approval by the Fairmont Planning Commission in November, and finally the Fairmont City Council before the end of the year.

Peter Bode, Fairmont planner/code enforcement technician, worked with the project’s steering committee, Planning Commission and WSB & Associates, a Twin Cities design and consulting firm specializing in community planning, through the duration of the project and to prepare the 138-page final draft.

“It is especially lengthy because it encompasses more than just land use. A city is much more than just land use,” Bode said. “It’s housing, neighborhoods, transportation, economic development, parks, recreation, natural resources like our lakes, public infrastructure and services, including social services like the police department.”

The city has had prior comprehensive plans, the most recent one in 2008, but these focused solely on land use. The new plan lives up to its “comprehensive” name by outlining future growth, not just in land use but in a dozen different ideas to create a diverse but unified community.

“It’s everything from bringing people together, embracing the economy, positioning Fairmont as a regional center. Every single line of text in the document, through all those 138 pages, is based on those big ideas and what we want to do with those ideas,” Bode said.

He suggested that those people who do not want to read the entire document should select one or two areas of interest to focus on and offer feedback.

“Everybody has different interests, whether it’s bike trails or equity inclusion or how we go about land development,” Bode said. “Look at those big ideas. If there’s something that you’re specifically interested in and want to see the city move forward on, then jump to that section.”

The 12 big ideas are summarized on pages 6-7 of the document. Topics include spreading the positive narrative on the city’s future; bringing people together; leveraging the city’s natural setting; revitalizing underused areas; embracing the new economy; creating a supportive workforce environment; providing a safe and connected transportation system; encouraging growth and development; ensuring safe neighborhoods; providing a variety of housing choices; fostering a welcoming atmosphere; and positioning Fairmont as a regional center.

Feedback can be offered through a link on the plan’s website, by emailing pbode@fairmont.org or by calling Bode at (507) 238-3940.

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