City of Osakis City of Osakis  

Osakis On The Move
A call to action for Osakis, MN

Prepared by
The Minnesota Design Team
April 6, 2002
Progress Report
Design Drawings
Waterfront Downtown Master Plan Natural Systems & Trail Linkages Downtown Design

Natural Systems
The natural features around Osakis help define the identity of the town. The wetlands, rivers and, of course, Lake Osakis itself-all are vital to Osakis' tourist economy. They provide opportunities for recreation, support a variety of wildlife and filter storm water runoff from naturally occurring structures and the built environment.

Preservation and restoration of these natural systems is crucial. Conservation easements can be placed to protect waterways from human- and naturally induced harm. Natural systems can be used to guide the pattern of new development; wetlands and drainage corridors can be used for lower-impact uses such as trails, wildlife observation and other recreation.

Downtown Core
The downtown core is the heart of Osakis-its civic, economic, cultural and social center. It should be a magnet to residents and visitors alike.

How to accomplish this? Revitalize the center of downtown and bring more focus to the lake access area, specifically, the waterfront and Osakis Pier. Draw residents from the north end of the lake, via private watercraft and a new water taxi. Reclaim and humanize the downtown public realm by adding green space and consistent yet unique sidewalk covers, such as awnings. Containers-replete with the Osakis logo-should occupy the sidewalks and intersection edges.

Create more opportunities for parking, including small-scale parking facilities. Capitalize on bike traffic by locating a bike trailhead at downtown. A motel/conference center will provide lodging for out-of-towners and a pleasant place for local businesspeople to meet. These guidelines will help Osakis become an urban oasis in a phenomenal natural environment.

Comprehensive Plan/Ordinances
A comprehensive plan will provide a guiding vision for Osakis. Created by the community, it will set out a direction for Osakis to pursue, and show how and when the community will "arrive" at its goals. As the community works to prepare a comprehensive plan, it will strengthen its identity and build pride in its future.

Ordinances, such as zoning and subdivision codes, come after the creation of the comprehensive plan. Zoning ordinances are important because they provide for the orderly development of the community in a way that is consistent with the larger goals and principles set forth in the comprehensive plan. A zoning ordinance is the primary tool that helps individual property owners maximize and protect the value of their properties and important environmental assets. A subdivision ordinance specifically addresses the layout of high-quality, new neighborhoods.

Osakis should prepare a new comprehensive plan, revise its zoning ordinance and prepare a subdivision ordinance. Recommended zoning ordinance changes include:

  1. Prepare specific development standards, based on an overriding design framework, that go beyond land use to better address building placement, design, building materials, signage, scale and density.
  2. Make finer distinctions between zoning districts so that permitted land uses are better tied to district character. Introduce development standards.
  3. More specifically address the form of new development.
  4. Create a downtown zoning district.

Some of the city's transportation avenues need to grow and expand as Osakis grows. Other streets need to support the small-town character of the community. Without access, and easy circulation of traffic, Osakis will not thrive.

The community's immediate priority should be to ensure access and visibility for local businesses while highway construction is under way. In the longer term, the city should decide how to handle traffic flow and retail traffic parking as the city grows. Osakis has limited street types, which need to be modified to accommodate the needs of the neighborhoods they serve.

Regulations and ordinances need to be changed to accommodate the community's transportation goals. For example, truck routes that won't interfere with tourist traffic need to be identified. A transportation policy plan that reviews all traffic types on different streets, eliminates conflict between traffic types and allows for all modes of travel (pedestrians, bikes, cars, trucks) is needed.

New Development Growth Patterns
Osakis has great growth potential, but it needs to envision a wise path to follow, one that will provide an economically feasible pattern, while offering a variety of the housing types that new residents will need in the future-a diversity of housing choices based on affordability and stylistic preferences. A more efficient use of land will include more contiguous, common open space, as well as a variety of lot sizes, which will allow for greater density and cost-effective growth. Infrastructure savings will be significant; builder and developer profits and, by extension, the city's tax base will be more favorable than a conventional development pattern.

After the creation of a viable industrial park, the next logical step is the creation of new neighborhoods-an extension of the existing phase one and phase two residential developments. First, the zoning and subdivision ordinances need to be amended to allow for more small-lot development and a mix of land uses. The Economic Development Corporation can play the same pivotal role as they did with the industrial park: They can set up the framework (platting), then encourage builders to come in and build. There are building types available that are appropriate for these types of developments. All that a project of this type needs is an element that already exists: the will to succeed.

The Osakis Chamber of Commerce thanks the following for their generous financial support:
City of Osakis
Osakis Economic Development Corporation
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post #7902, Osakis
First National Bank of Osakis

For more information, contact:
Osakis Chamber of Commerce
[email protected]

Laura Backes, Design Team Committee chair
[email protected]

The Minnesota Design Team
Rich McLaughlin (team leader)
Harold Skjelbostad (team leader)
Diana Billings
Jeff Feulner
Roger Germann
Jennifer Hawkins
Stephanie Howe
Mike Jischke
Monique MacKenzie
Jason Miller
Peter Musty
Mark Nolan
Lucy Thompson
Tom Van De Weghe
Scott Yonke

Visit the Minnesota Design Team online at

Natural Systems:
  • First year: Work with watershed district to identify areas for key restoration initiatives. Natural resources inventory.
  • 1-5 years: Respect natural areas as new development occurs.
  • 5-10 years: Complete trail connections within preservation areas.
Downtown Core:
  • First year: Trailhead signage, public realm theme elements; e.g., potted plants with new image logo. Paint/clean up/fix up.
  • 1-5 years: Osakis Pier and Marina built, then water taxi system. Restructuring of waterfront access and parking. Waterfront connections between the town green and shoreline. Extension of the Osakis light fixtures from Central and Nokomis, to waterfront. Central Lakes Trail trailhead/farmers' market. Motel/conference center. Awnings on downtown businesses. Library/Internet Café. Trail corridor enhancements.
  • 5-10 years: Waterfront restaurant. Mid-block community center parking.
Ordinances/Comprehensive Plan:
  • First year: Prepare new comprehensive plan.
  • 1-5 years: Revise zoning and subdivision ordinance.
  • 5-10 years: No comment.
  • First year: Designate road types. Create a construction mitigation plan for traffic and local businesses during Hwy 27 construction.
  • 1-5 years: Develop master plan for parking facilities in business area.
  • 5-10 years: Develop transportation component of comprehensive plan policy.
New Development Growth Patterns:
  • First year: Amend the zoning ordinance to allow for small-lot subdivisions, to accommodate a variety of housing types and efficient neighborhood patterns.
  • 1-5 years: Acquire land for a new neighborhood; plat the land; work with builders to come up with building product. Get building product that fits. Allow builders to build incrementally, block by block.
  • 5-10 years: Lather, rinse, repeat. Just kidding: Work on the next neighborhood.



City of Osakis
Osakis City Hall · PO Box 486 · Osakis, Minnesota 56360
Phone: 320-859-2150 · Fax: 320-859-3978

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