City Detail

Background Information

City of Big Lake
County: Sherburne
Population: 10298
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 48
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Hanna Klimmek
City Staff
763-251-2979
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 2 ( )

City Assessment Files and City Performance Metrics

City councils pass a resolution to join the GreenStep program and are recognized at Step 1. Step 2 and Step 3 recognition levels reflect completed city actions, reported and rated below with stars (1 star = good, 2 stars = better, 3 stars = best). The Assessment File below summarizes completed city actions in a short Word file. Step 4 recognition is awarded to cities who report a minimum number of core metrics for the previous calendar year. These metrics aim to show the aggregate, quantitative results of taking multiple GreenStep actions. Step 5 cities show improvement in the Step 4 metrics. See yearly data for Steps 4&5. Additional city data can be found by reviewing information on B3 Benchmarking and Regional Indicators Initiative.

Assessment File

Best Practice Actions Underway and Completed

Completed actions are denoted by stars.

Total completed actions: 20
1 star actions: 7
2 star actions: 12
3 star actions: 1

Land Use Land Use

Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans {BP no.6}

1 star - Action 1:

Adopt a comprehensive plan or (for Category B & C cities) adopt a future land use plan that was adopted by the county or a regional entity.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The last time Big Lake adopted a comprehensive plan was in 1999. We are currently in the process of writing a comprehensive plan which will be concluded in the spring of 2018.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
Weber Community Planning
For more information contact:
Michael Healy (City staff) | mhealy@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2977
1 star - Action 2:

Demonstrate that regulatory ordinances comply with the comprehensive plan including but not limited to having the zoning ordinance explicitly reference the comprehensive plan as the foundational document for decision making.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
1000.03: RELATION TO THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN: It is the policy of the City of Big Lake that the enforcement, amendment, and administration of this Ordinance be accomplished consistent with the policies and guidelines contained in the City Comprehensive Plan, as developed and amended from time to time. The City Council recognizes the City Comprehensive Plan as the official policy for the regulation of land use and development in
accordance with the policies and purpose of this Ordinance. In accordance with Minnesota Statutes Chapter 473 as amended, the City will not approve any rezoning or other change in these regulations that are inconsistent with the City Comprehensive Plan.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Michael Healy (City staff) | mhealy@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2977

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

3 star - Action 5:

Have a downtown zoning district that allows residential and compatible commercial development.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Big Lake adopted the Downtown Design Standards in Section 1063 of the zoning code. This created a downtown overlay district. The goals are summarized in the plan,"Downtown development should be appropriate for a traditional downtown area, with mixed use buildings combining retail, commercial, and residential uses; two and three story buildings are encouraged. Destination retail, restaurant and entertainment uses, particularly mixed with compatible, complementary, or other synergistic uses, are encouraged."
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Michael Healy (City staff) | mhealy@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2977

Efficient Highway- and Auto-Oriented Development {BP no.9}

2 star - Action 2:

Participate in regional economic development planning with representatives from surrounding townships, cities, the county and business interests to:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Big Lake is a partner in the Region 7W Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). See attached document for more information.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Hanna Klimmek (City staff) | hklimmek@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2979
2 star - Action 4:

Allow auto-oriented commercial districts at the sub-urban edge and/or in tightly defined and smaller urban development corridors/nodes that have some bike/walk/transit access.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City steers most auto-oriented uses towards our B-3 General Business Zoning District. Our B-2 district, which is mostly the old downtown, prohibits some of the more objectionable auto-oriented uses. Our draft Land Use Plan calls for the establishment of a “Town Center” Zoning District. This Town Center Zoning District is proposed to have a blanket prohibition on auto-oriented uses (gas stations, auto repair, drive throughs, etc.). Our Downtown Design Standards set design goals for a huge swath of our community including areas that are fairly auto-oriented.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Michael Healy (City staff) | mhealy@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2977

Transportation Transportation

Living Streets {BP no.11}

2 star - Action 1:

Adopt a complete streets policy, or a living streets policy, which addresses landscaping and stormwater.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
This policy was adopted in 2010. The City of Big Lake only does road construction every 10 years, the last being in 2008. Therefore, we are currently planning for road construction in 2018, and the complete streets policy will be a part of that plan.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Layne Otteson (City staff) | lotteson@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2984
1 star - Action 5:

Identify and remedy street-trail gaps between city streets and off-road trails/bike trails to better facilitate walking and biking.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City has a plan to increase bikeability and walkability and address any trail/sidewalk gaps. We will also be hosting a Bikeable Communities Workshop this summer.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Michael Healy (City staff) | mhealy@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2977

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

1 star - Action 2:

Conduct an Active Living campaign such as a Safe Routes to School program.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Big Lake School District had three schools partner on this plan. The implementation process was first, parents and SHIP staff encouraged children to walk or bike to school, second, the district staff educated students on walking and biking opportunities in the city. There were also some infrastructure recommendations made and an action plan was created.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Clay Wilfahrt (City staff) | cwilfahrt@biglakmn.org | 763-251-2968
2 star - Action 3:

Prominently identify mobility options: transit; paratransit/Dial-A-Ride; ridesharing/cab services; rental cars; bikes; airports.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The Chamber of Commerce and the City both provide links to Tri-CAP and the City offers information about their routes, services, and costs.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Hanna Klimmek (City staff) | hklimmek@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2979

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

2 star - Action 1:

Make improvements within your city's system of parks, offroad trails and open spaces.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Big Lake has created a Master Plan for Parks, Trails, and Open Space (in 2016). The plan outlines 3 recommendations for the trail system which are in the process of being completed: 1) create trails to provide local and regional connections (there is a plan to create a trail connecting the wildlife refuge with the Mississippi, running through Big Lake), 2) create new trails where necessary to link neighborhoods which are currently lacking access to the system, 3) address pedestrian and cycle crossings at major intersections. The next section seeks to expand recreational facilities by 1) developing an athletic complex, 2) develop a partnership with the school district to utilize their facilities, 3) improve lighting at existing facilities to expand hours, and 4) explore opportunities to partner with other agencies to enhance facilities and programming. The last section seeks to enhance existing parks through 1) utilizing the master plan to guide development, 2) convert existing open spaces to neighborhood or community parks, 3) upgrade, update, or install park amenities in existing parks. The City is also developing a plan for a trail wayfinding system throughout Big Lake.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Mike Goebel (City staff) | mgoebel@biglakemn.org | 763-251-8010
1 star - Action 2:

Plan and budget for a network of parks, green spaces, water features and trails for areas where new development is planned.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Big Lake has park dedication requirements and requires a “cash-in-lieu” payment if land is not being dedicated. The existing rates are spelled out in the fee schedule (attached). The enabling ordinance is the subdivision ordinance. It was amended last year to require park dedication for commercial and industrial development as well.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
1 star - Action 3:

Achieve minimum levels of city green space and maximize the percent within a ten-minute walk of community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Big Lake has 215 acres of parkland, 20 miles of trail, and 3.5 acres of greenway. The city population is 10,298. This means that there are roughly 21 acres of parkland per 1000 residents of Big Lake, 3 times the minimum level.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Mike Goebel (City staff) | mgoebel@biglakemn.org | 763-251-8010

Surface Water {BP no.19}

2 star - Action 2:

Conduct or support multi-party community conversations around improving local water quality and quantity.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Big Lake has a community organization, the Big Lake Community Lakes Association, dedicated to preservation and promotion of Big and Mitchell Lakes. The document included outlines the plan for the funds the city received to do shoreland restoration, invasive species control, water quality studies, and public education. A variety of partners worked together on this project.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
Big Lake Community Lakes Association, Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District
For more information contact:
Clay Wilfahrt (City staff) | cwilfahrt@biglakmn.org | 763-251-2968
2 star - Action 4:

Adopt a shoreland ordinance for all river and lake shoreland areas; reduce flooding and costs through The National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City has a Shoreland Overlay District and the city code dictates what can and cannot be done on the land (see link).
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Michael Healy (City staff) | mhealy@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2977

Sustainable Consumption and Waste {BP no.22}

2 star - Action 4:

Publicize, promote and use the varied businesses/services collecting and marketing used, repaired and rental consumer goods, especially electronics, in the city/county.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City is hosting its first ever fix-it clinic this summer. The event will be staffed by volunteers and put on for community members. The City has also publicized and promoted reuse/rental/repair businesses through the monthly environmental education newsletters, the link to which is attached.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Katie Stelzner (City staff) | kstelzner@biglakemn.org | 763-307-6040

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement {BP no.24}

2 star - Action 1:

Use a city commission, or committee to lead, coordinate, and report to and engage community members on implementation of sustainability best practices.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Big Lake has a Sustainability Task Force, created this year by our MN GreenCorps member. The GreenCorps member also regularly sends out environmental education materials (newsletters), which are also posted on the City website and Facebook page. The Task Force is working toward achieving new MN GreenStep Cities' BPs such as reaching out to high school students about our work and educating local businesses about sustainability. There is a link to MN GreenStep Cities on the City's website.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Katie Stelzner (City staff) | kstelzner@biglakemn.org | 763-307-6040
2 star - Action 4:

Conduct or support a broad sustainability education and action campaign involving:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
With a member of the Minnesota GreenCorps, the City has started a campaign for broad sustainability education throughout the city. We have created a Sustainability Task Force who will work on engaging more community members in various tasks and campaigns. Our GreenCorps member regularly sends out environmental education materials on topics as varied as energy efficiency, food waste, general definitions of sustainability etc. She is also working with the schools to start a Food Recovery Program, teaching students about conservation, and expanding local food options.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
Big Lake School District, Chartwells, Chamber of Commerce, Saron Lutheran Church
For more information contact:
Katie Stelzner (City staff) | kstelzner@biglakemn.org | 763-307-6040

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

1 star - Action 2:

Create or participate in a marketing/outreach program to connect businesses with assistance providers, including utilities, who provide personalized energy, waste or sustainability audits and assistance.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
After hearing about the programs offered to Xcel clients and MN Chamber members by MN Waste Wise, we created a flyer to send to City Chamber members (120 businesses) about the services Waste Wise offers and the benefits it could bring to businesses.Even more recently, the City has created a Sustainability Packet for businesses in which we highlight and explain not only MN Waste Wise, but MN RETAP and the MN Chamber of Commerce.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Hanna Klimmek (City staff) | hklimmek@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2979
2 star - Action 7:

Conduct or participate in a buy local campaign for community members and local businesses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Big Lake prioritizes promoting local businesses. The City sponsors Big Lake Manufacturer's Week in which local businesses are promoted, and tours are given of certain sites. The City has also participated in, and helped to coordinate, the Big Lake Youth Apprenticeship Job Fair. As mentioned in action 25.3, the City of Big Lake also created and maintains both a summer and winter farmers market, promoting local farmers and artisans all year round! The City website also has a list of local businesses in every sector represented in the city. The City has created free phone cleaners, etc. with shop local Big Lake as the focus.We are often working with the Chamber of Commerce as well to promote local businesses.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
Big Lake Township, Big Lake Chamber of Commerce, Sherburne County, Greater MSP Regional Economic Development Partnership, Central MN Jobs and Training Services, Central MN Manufacturers Association, Tri-CAP, Northstar Corridor Development Authority
For more information contact:
Hanna Klimmek (City staff) | hklimmek@biglakemn.org | 763-251-2979

Local Food {BP no.27}

2 star - Action 3:

Create, assist with and promote local food production/distribution within the city:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Big Lake has a farmer's market that is run by the city and uses a city park for operation. We have a market coordinator who is looking into opportunities to donate to food shelves in the future. The City also began a winter farmers market in 2017-2018 through a partnership with a local church. The City also maintains a community garden.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
SHIP, BLEND, Big Lake Chamber of Commerce, Saron Lutheran Church
For more information contact:
Corrie Scott (City staff) | cscott@biglakemn.org | 763-263-7800