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Public gives input at land use meeting

By Staff | Nov 2, 2012

What will Rugby look like in the approaching years?

Maybe more importantly, what does the town’s citizenry want Rugby to look like in the future?

Those were the main topics of discussion as about 25 people gathered at Otter Tail Power Company on Oct. 22 to give input for Rugby’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

The public meeting, hosted by Interstate Engineering, Inc., gave the community an opportunity to voice its concerns and recommendations for the plan the company developing for the city, which is anticipating continued growth over the next five years.

While there was discussion of what areas would be the best natural fits for expansion of both residential and commercial areas, there was also pleas to maximize buildings and infrastructure already in place.

Wade Senger, a Rugby native and one of the representatives from Interstate, said that the general estimate for Rugby’s population in five years is between 3,500 and 4,000. The 2010 census measured Rugby’s population at 2,876.

The point was made that Rugby is ideally situated to draw new residents who are working in the Oil Patch who don’t want their families living in the middle of that region.

A good amount of the meeting was spent talking about maintaing affordable housing for senior citizens and other people on fixed incomes.

A number of people at the meeting, including city council member Arland Geiszler, were concerned with the potential reaction of residents with increased activity coming from the west, which would likely include higher prices for goods and services.

“Change is facing reality,” Geiszler said at the meeting. “This kind of change is hard for local residents to understand, much less accept.”

The people at the meeting were asked to fill out a survey, rating their priorities and concerns for the city moving forward.

The surveys can be found at city hall, Leevers, the Senior Center, the Job Development Authority and the library. Interstate set a deadline of Nov. 15 for returning the surveys, but Senger said they will continue to add information to their database as the company receives it.

Roger Sitter, a Rugby resident and director of maintenance and environmental services at Haaland Estates, expressed a concern that the community was not engaged with issues that may affect the city’s future.

To his point, of those in attendance, around half were either city or county elected officials or employees.

“The real issue is we have to get these people engaged,” Sitter said in an interview after the meeting. “I’ve never got anything in the mail from the city other than the water bill. Why wouldn’t the city mail out this survey?”

City officials have discussed getting the survey out to the public via the water bill or as an insert in the Pierce County Tribune.

The amount of truck traffic going past Ely Elementary on 2nd Street Southwest was also a concern raised at the meeting, with a belief that it will only increase as the town grows.

Aside from an increase in traffic, added crime could produce need for greater law enforcement.

Senger said the survey is not meant to dictate what Rugby should look like in the future, but to gather information from residents about what they want Rugby to be moving forward.

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