FERGUS FALLS -- Otter Tail County Public Works Director Rick West addressed the county board of commissioners on Tuesday, Jan. 28, concerning the timeline for development of Otter Tail County’s long-range plan.

The long-range plan will include economic development, natural resources, farmland preservation, protection of lakes and waterways, housing, public health, safety, the betterment of Otter Tail County townships and communities and other issues.

“More studies about economic development will take place in February,” West told commissioners. “We’ll complete listening sessions in March, work more on the long-range planning implementation goals in April and May and have a draft plan released to Otter Tail County residents for review in June.”

A county board of commissioners public hearing prior to adoption of the plan will be in August.

Rick West
Rick West

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“We will have lots of public engagement from our county residents before adoption of the final plan,” County Board Chairman Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls said.

Evening public meetings will be held, for public input, in communities throughout Otter Tail County. All five county commissioners will attend these meetings and hear from their constituents.

West, at the county board meeting on Jan. 28, emphasized the six elements of the overall plan: land use, public infrastructure, resilience, economy, natural resources and parks and trails.

“Public participation helps ensure that Otter Tail County’s long-range plan accurately reflects the vision and goals of county residents and businesses,” West said.

He added that this new long-range plan will build on previous and successful planning by Otter Tail County commissioners, in association with county employees and county residents.

West added that other counties in Minnesota also are looking into long-range planning and at the same time are seeking public input.

He added that Otter Tail County also has a long-range transportation plan, with input from county residents.

Otter Tail County is larger in size than the state of Rhode Island and paved roads total 1,062 miles.

“The backbone of the highway system in Otter Tail County requires lots of financial investment,” West said.

“County residents who have attended public meetings in previous months have expressed their desire for their roadways to be maintained at the highest level. In order to do this, they have given wholehearted support for a half-cent sales tax and additional fees during license tab renewals.”