Earlier this month, the Central Mississippi River Regional Planning Partnership (CMRP) launched its Framework 2030 project – an initiative to do collaborative planning for the future of cities and townships in Wright and Sherburne counties on both sides of the Mississippi River.
The CMRP includes the City of Monticello and Silver Creek and Monticello Townships in Wright County and the Cities of Becker and Big Lake and Becker and Big Lake Townships in Sherburne County.
At the April 14 workshop of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Darek Vetsch provided the board with an update on the project.
Vetsch said the timeline for getting community engagement has been delayed somewhat due the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the process is continuing.
“We were hoping to send a sample survey for everybody to look at,” Vetsch said. “Unfortunately, with what has happened over the last month, we’re still in the process of creating that survey. We’re going to push it out through the county and a variety of the jurisdictions in the county to get community engagement and feedback.”
The goal of Framework 2030 is to create a guidebook for regional planning in Wright and Sherburne counties. Vetsch wanted to clear up the misnomer that this group will have planning authority over the jurisdictions among its member cities and townships – it will not. Control would remain with the county board and planning and zoning.
“This is basically going to give a template that gives a cross-jurisdictional view in planning that has the greatest value and to create the highest quality of life looking at it from a holistic view,” Vetsch said.
Board Chair Christine Husom said that CMRP, the first planning group of its kind in Central Minnesota, is likely to be utilized more in the future and, if the process goes well with Sherburne County, Wright County should look to increase such initiatives.
“This does make sense,” Husom said. “We’re not an island. We need to work with not just Sherburne County, but with our other surrounding counties.”
Vetsch said that while the name of program is Framework 2030, its planning projections go well beyond 2030. In reality, it could just as easily been called Framework 2040 because the goals are for the long-term, not just the next few years.
“As we grow and the line between cities grows becomes much more blurry, you have to plan 15, 20, 30 years out, not just the next five,” Vetsch said. “It’s called Framework 2030, but a lot of the stuff that we’re looking at is much more than 10 years out. It’s more like 20 or 25 years.”
While not entirely dealing with a bridge crossing linking Wright and Sherburne counties, one of the major goals of CMRP is to get the needed groundwork laid for a third river crossing in the county. Currently the only crossings are between Monticello and Big Lake and Clearwater and Clear Lake – both of which are overwhelmed with traffic that gets funneled to both locations connecting I-94 and Hwy 10.
Commissioner Mike Potter said the effort is worthwhile and needed to get the required preparation in place to make a bridge project possible.
“I applaud the work that Commissioner Vetsch has been doing on this because it is important,” Potter said. “2030 is a good goal. Construction is probably not going to happen by then, but if we can get the federal hurdles done, some of the processes change to make it easier to get. Instead of 40 years to get a bridge, make it so the process in place by 2030 and all we have to do is get the money. That’s the big goal. Construction by 2030 probably isn’t going to happen, but if we can get all these other processes in place and done and clear all the other hurdles, that will be a major accomplishment.”
For more information about Framework 2030, visit the CMRP website at https://regionalplanningpartnership.org/projects/framework2030/ to see the components of the planning process and frequently asked questions and information about local trends.