Carlton, Thomson residents invited to map out future

Last year the communities of Carlton and Thomson came to an orderly, businesslike decision to merge. The two towns already shared a mutual border, post office address and a number of services and equipment. And since Thomson, the smaller of the t...

Last year the communities of Carlton and Thomson came to an orderly, businesslike decision to merge. The two towns already shared a mutual border, post office address and a number of services and equipment.  And since Thomson, the smaller of the two, was finding it increasingly difficult to recruit residents willing to take on leadership roles, the entire plan made sense to voters.

Now, with the successful merger set to take place in 2015, it’s time for the two to hammer out the nitty gritty of doing business together.  

“A key part of the consolidation of the two cities is the creation of a new comprehensive plan that will guide future public investments and decision making,” said consultant John Powers of Applied Insights North of Duluth.

With that in mind, a Comprehensive Plan Committee has been meeting for several months scoping out key issues and opportunities for the merged entity, and the group is now set to appeal to the community for its thoughts as well.

A community planning session is set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, at Thomson City Hall.


“Residents will be asked to suggest ideas regarding how the unified community will look in 20 years in terms of land use, community appearance, economic vitality, and community life,” explained Powers.  “Many residents participated in last year’s visioning process, and the comprehensive plan builds on that foundation.”

Tracey Hartung, Carlton clerk/treasurer, said the upcoming session will build on the visioning sessions held last year. She explained that those sessions primarily identified the strengths and weaknesses of the respective communities.

“We plan on utilizing the information from those visioning sessions and pulling them together for the sake of moving forward,” she said, explaining the two cities need to take a closer look at areas they can grow, such as housing, recreational opportunities, expanding tourism, the future growth of infrastructure and utilities and the needs of the community.

“We already have so many assets, such as Four Seasons, Jay Cooke and the Munger Trail,” Hartung pointed out. “All we need now is a road map on how to move forward based on what our people are telling us.”

Powers agreed that the ideas generated by the public will be a critical ingredient in formulating the draft comprehensive plan, which will then be offered for public review and comment later in the planning process.

“It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is that the public use this opportunity to provide their ideas,” added Carlton Mayor Kitty Bureau.

Hartung said the upcoming process is a timely one - Carlton’s current comprehensive plan was set to expire in 2015.

“Many residents are really excited about this, and we’re hoping for a lot of good input at the Sept. 24 meeting,” she said, adding there is still some work to be done on merging the two cities’ ordinances and zoning plans, which will then serve as a springboard for housing and economic development.


Hartung said it is hoped that a comprehensive plan document for the merged community will be completed by the end of this year and ready for review and comment just after the first of the year, with an eye toward having it in place by April 2015.

Background materials can be picked up at Carlton and Thomson city halls or downloaded from the city of Carlton’s website ( ). The public is encouraged to attend the meeting to offer their views and comments. Comments can also be sent via email ( ), regular mail (Comprehensive Plan, c/o City Clerk/Treasurer, Carlton City Hall, P.O. Box 336, Carlton, MN 55718)  or by talking with one of the committee members.

Members of the Plan Committee include Carlton Mayor Kitty O’Hara Bureau, Carlton County Economic Development Director Connie Christenson, Becky Feldbrugge, Thomson City Councilor Ann Gustafson, Carlton School District Superintendent Peter Haapala, Mary Lee Henriques, Alan Johnson, Linda Johnson, Rob Kavanaugh, Merrill Loy, Diane Soden-Groves, Timothy Soden-Groves, Joanne Erspamer, Carlton Clerk-Treasurer Tracey Hartung and Thomson Clerk Ruth Jorgenson. The public is encouraged to contact members to share their thoughts regarding land use and development.

The city has retained Powers to guide the development of the plan and create the comprehensive plan document. He is being assisted by MSA-Professional Services of Duluth.

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