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Joint planning: City, townships to meet together Tuesday

Officials from the city of Bemidji and Bemidji and Northern townships will come together for a joint meeting this week.

The meeting between the three entities is planned as part of the ongoing joint planning process that they entered together two years ago.

They last met in a joint session in September at Northern Town Hall, where they discussed several issues but focused much of their discussion on annexation. Prior to that, the three entities got together in May in Bemidji.

After years of contentious annexations and difficult discussions between the city of Bemidji and Bemidji and Northern townships, city and township officials began talking in 2003. Those conversations set the foundation for eventual annexation and joint powers agreements.

Once the joint powers agreement was signed in December 2007, the joint planning process was officially adopted. The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board and Joint Planning Commission were both formed. The JPB developed a new set of zoning regulations, and it assumed the planning and zoning responsibilities of the city of Bemidji and the two townships.

A joint meeting of the three governmental entities is not required, but the joint planning office plans to have two joint meetings a year: one in the spring and one in the fall.

This year's spring meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bemidji Town Hall with a meal and refreshments. The actual "meeting" will kick off at 6 p.m. with introductions from Cliff Tweedale, the executive director of the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, who initially facilitated the early meetings between city and township officials.

The agenda for the meeting covers multiple topics. The meeting is expected to adjourn at 8 p.m.

Included on the agenda are the following discussion points:

- Amending the annexation agreement regarding the timing of revenue sharing.

- The possibility of allowing the JPB to seek grant funding.

- The JPB's role in planning.

- The possibility of reducing the number of people who serve on the JPC, which is now set at 12.

- Should the joint planning office consider a rental policy or ordinance to cover its entire jurisdiction?

- Should those involved in the joint planning process work together to address parkland dedication in the townships?