City Detail

Background Information

City of Nisswa
County: Crow Wing
Population: 1971
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 25
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Brittney Cotner
City Staff
218-963-2402
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 1 ( )

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: 21
1 star actions: 6
2 star actions: 7
3 star actions: 3

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings {BP no.1}

Pending - Action 1:

Enter building information into the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking database and routinely enter monthly energy, water use data for all city-owned buildings.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
The City of Nisswa has been consistently entering in our readings into the B3 Benchmarking system for several months now. We look forward to using this information to decrease our energy usage where we can to save money and the environment.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
3 star - Action 2:

Make no/low cost indoor lighting and operational changes in city-owned/school buildings to reduce energy costs.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
We have started implementing the instillation of LED lights in all city buildings. We are 3/4 of the way to completion and hope to be 100% completed by the end of 2020.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

2 star - Action 1:

Require energy efficient, Dark-Sky compliant new or replacement outdoor lighting fixtures on city-owned/private buildings and facilities.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
All of our city buildings have switched our outside lighting to energy efficient, dark sky compliant lighting fixtures. This has been in the works for awhile but we are 100% changed over. We will continue to use these lights to keep our energy usage down and avoid light pollution.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
3 star - Action 3:

Replace the city's existing street lighting with Dark Sky-compliant LEDs, modifying any city franchise/utility agreement and adding smart grid attributes.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
We have switched all of our street lighting to dark sky compliant LEDs. The goal of this transition was to lower our energy usage and light pollution.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
3 star - Action 7:

Replace city-owned parking lot/ramp lighting with Dark-Sky compliant, energy efficient, automatic dimming lighting technologies.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The city has switched all of its city owned outdoor light fixtures to dark-sky compliant energy efficient fixtures and bulbs. The city also requires all commercial properties and associations to have the same lighting standards if there will be lighting present. It is the city's priority to keep out light pollution to a minimum.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Building Redevelopment {BP no.5}

1 star - Action 3:

Plan for reuse of large-format retail buildings, or work with a local school, church or commercial building to either add-on space or repurpose space into new uses.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The Elementary School in Nisswa is currently undergoing an expansion. This expansion of the building has not resulted in increased parking. The school already has the local library in the building as well using the space in a more beneficial way. This allows the school and the public to have access to a library in one location instead of having two smaller libraries in town.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

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:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
We approved and have started implementing the new comprehensive plan. In this plan a large emphasis has been put on trails, accessibility, lake quality, and smart growth to protect or natural resources.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
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:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
Our Zoning Ordinance references the comprehensive plan 20 times. We also reference the comprehensive plan in most of our decision making in our Planning and Zoning Commission meetings as this is the document that tells us what we want the City of Nisswa to look like in 20 years. We work very closely with this document updating it as needed.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Design for Natural Resource Conservation {BP no.10}

1 star - Action 6:

Conserve natural, cultural, historic resources by adopting or amending city codes and ordinances to support sustainable sites, including roadsides, and environmentally protective land use development.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
We have zoned lots 28260674, 28260675, 28260544, 28260573, 28260572, 28260557 as public recreational. This has been the zoning for several years with the hope of making a park on the land that would preserve the natural beauty for the park goes to enjoy. This land ultimately went up for auction as tax forfeited. With the partnership of the neighbors and the city we are on our way to turning this existing long range plan into an obtainable reality. The land was pulled off of the market to start negotiations between the city and the county. We are in the final stages now of presenting our proposal for a park of natural trails, leaving the trees and nature mostly untouched, to the county. In the winter this will double as a snow shoe trail making it a usable park year round. Pending the county's approval we will be on our way to having a 40 acre park filled with nature and trails for people to enjoy for years to come.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Crow Wing County and the neighbors of Camp Lincoln Road
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Transportation Transportation

Efficient City Fleets {BP no.13}

1 star - Action 3:

Phase-in operational changes, equipment changes including electric vehicles, and no-idling practices for city or local transit fleets.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Nisswa maintains its fleet of vehicles by subjecting them to regular maintenance and upkeep up to and including; preventative maintenance, fixing existing issues, and regulating the life expectancy of our vehicles. In the future it is our plan to look into grants for electric car charging stations as well. We encourage limiting vehicles idling whenever possible to prevent pollution as well as preserving the longevity of our fleet.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

Not rated - Action 1:

Adopt a sustainable purchasing policy or administrative guidelines/practices directing that the city purchase at least:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
As of August 2019 all of our standard printer paper is to be 30% recycled content whenever fiscally reasonable. All of our printer paper in the past has come from SFI certified sourcing and will continue to be purchased as such in the instances where a 30% recycled content paper is not fiscally responsible.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
1 star - Action 6:

Require printing services to be purchased from companies certified by Minnesota Great Printers or by the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
All of the printing paper purchased by the city of Nisswa is from Sustainable Green Print certified companies. This has been our practice for several years and we intend to continue in this manor.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Community Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

2 star - Action 4:

Maximize tree planting along your main downtown street or throughout the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
As a part of approval for conditional use permits we require a landscaping plan be presented. When the applicant is planning to cut trees the commission is good about offering alternatives limiting the number of mature trees removed in any way we can that is not onerous. In the cases where this is not possible we put a condition on their CUP stating new trees must be planted. Depending on the use, lot size, and location the requirement may be to plant 5 new trees or it may be that the owner must allow the natural trees to remain as a 50 ft buffer around the parcel. The community as well as the city is very protective of our trees so every effort is made to protect as many as possible throughout the city.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

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:
Year action initially completed: 2014
Implementation details:
Purchase 4 acre Shoreland Area on Lake Nisswa for park development. Developed a pocket park and pedestrian underpass of Highway 371 to connect Lake Nisswa Park to City Main Street Pedestrian Corridor,
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
2 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:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
We are currently working with the county to construct walking trails along highway 77. This will connect residents and Grandview Resort to one of our business districts. Encouraging walking to the grocery store, bank, etc. over driving.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Surface Water {BP no.19}

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:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
Adoption of Shore Impact Zone Grading and Drainage Standards to protect lake and river water quality.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Desmond McGeough (City staff) | dmcgeough@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 218-963-2402

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement {BP no.24}

Pending - 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:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
The Planning and Zoning Commission takes the lead on reporting and identifying best practices to the community. The Planning Administrator also gives periodic updates at the city council meetings. Discussing these best practices at more than one level of government helps us keep more people involved. The city has also been working with the Chamber of Commerce to form ideas to meet more best practices through the businesses that make this community great.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
Pending - Action 4:

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

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
The elementary school in town comes to city hall once a year to allow the 4th grade class to vote on a high emotion issue. Some students are council members and some are upset citizens. This allows them to see how the city government works in action. After the mock public hearing they take a vote on allowing the apple orchard to be demolished to build a strip mall. The kids really get into it while they are learning.

Our comprehensive plan also directly addresses the interest in educating our school children about local government. It is planned to do more interactive and educational events like the one listed above while continuing the several events we host at city hall.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

Pending - Action 3:

Promote sustainable tourism in your city, and green tourism resources to tourism and hospitality businesses in/around the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
Implementation details:
Nisswa prides itself on being an "outdoors" type city where trees, lakes, and fun are never far from view. We have several great businesses in town that help our citizens and visitors enjoy the outdoors. These businesses include but are not limited to Lake Fun Rentals, Boats and Beyond Rentals, Dave's Sportland Rentals, Your Boat Club, Bertha Boatworks, Life Cycle, and Martin's Sport Shop. These businesses offer rentals from boats to jet skis to bicycles and everything in between. They help us to offer the recreational and environmentally responsible equipment rentals people have come to expect from our outdoorsy community.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402
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:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Nisswa takes part in the Lakes Proud local shopping campaign with Pequot Lakes, Cuyuna Lakes, Cross Lake, and Brainerd Lakes. This started in 2013 as a concept brought up between business owners. With help from the Small Business Development Center at St. Cloud State University and Central Lakes College conducting studies on feasibility in 2015 the event launched with the goals of encouraging people to shop local and sharing why shopping local is so beneficial to the communities. Since then the participation has grown so much that is is now a 5 community event with a 16 person committee.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402

Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience {BP no.29}

2 star - Action 1:

Prepare to maintain public health and safety during extreme weather and climate-change-related events, while also taking a preventive approach to reduce risk for community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed:
Implementation details:
The City of Nisswa is part of the Crow Wing County Hazard Mitigation Plan that they monitor and update on a regular basis. The plan outlines natural disasters such as Tornadoes, Floods, Fire, Hail, and the like. It also aims to educate on a number of topics such as climate change, water quality, and how to handle extreme weather (hot and cold). Crow Wing County provides a system to inform citizens of potential hazards and emergencies through either text, email, or phone call. Everyone if encouraged to sign up for this alert system at no charge. The city of Nisswa also has an Emergency Management Director, Craig Taylor. The city of Nisswa is currently looking into modifying their own Emergency Plan.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Descriptive File:
Crown Wing County
For more information contact:
Brittney Cotner (City Staff) | zoningadmin@ci.nisswa.mn.us | 2189632402