Community Spotlights 2013
Lisa Wilson, AICP
Planning and Parks Director
Description of the Community
Isanti is an ex-urban community located about 45 minutes north of downtown Minneapolis/St. Paul along the Trunk Highway 65 corridor. The area is characterized by is rolling agricultural land and the wooded and natural area that is provided along the Rum River, which is Isanti?s western border. The City of Isanti grew significantly, nearly doubling in population, in the early part of 2000. As a result of this growth, the community offers a mix of residential housing types, abundant park and recreational facilities, a historic downtown, and expanding commercial and industrial areas.
How long have you worked for the community?
I joined the City of Isanti as the City Planner in September 2006. Prior to my employment with Isanti, I worked for the Village of Wheeling, IL and the City of Victoria, MN.
What is the greatest part of your job?
I have the chance to work on a variety of projects. While I do review standard planning and zoning plans and applications, I have the unique opportunity to be actively involved and gain experience in other related fields. Given that resources are limited, other staff members have taken on such responsibilities as well. We have been able to establish a team environment, which enables us to be more innovative when tackling the challenges and the issues that the community faces. Our strength and resilience as a community; and as a team, show that we are able to get through the tough times and not lose sight of the vision and goals that the community has established.
What is a unique fact or characteristic about your community?
By the year 1900, Isanti's main agricultural cash crop was potatoes. The settlers to the area found that the soil was well suited for the crop. The coming of the railroad and the construction of the new bridge across the Rum River; enabled farmers to ship and transport their product more easily. Eventually, the soil was depleted of the necessary nutrients to grow the crop; and farmers had to look at other options.
Are there any new projects on the horizon?
Due to the economic downtown, the development of projects within the City has been limited. However, there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel, as we have renewed interest from developers looking to build homes on vacant, platted lots within several of our existing residential developments. In December 2012, the City of Isanti had implemented a SAC and WAC deferral program, so as to encourage residential and commercial development within the City. To date, several developers have expressed interest in the program and one is actively involved in a housing project; in which construction has been planned for this spring.
The City received Minnesota Shovel Ready Certification for several lots within the City owned industrial park, which will remove development road blocks often encountered by site selectors and businesses when looking to build a new facility. The City has all the necessary utility and communication infrastructure in place. The hard work spent on marketing, developing meaningful incentives, and obtaining the "Shovel Ready" certification appears to have been worth the effort.