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Coping with growth

A decade of development has changed the city of Hermantown, which is working to accommodate the challenges of population and commercial growth. Between 1990 and 2000, the city's population grew from 6,761 to 8,047 residents, representing more tha...

A decade of development has changed the city of Hermantown, which is working to accommodate the challenges of population and commercial growth.
Between 1990 and 2000, the city's population grew from 6,761 to 8,047 residents, representing more than half of the county's total population increase during that period.
Population was just one of the growth components discussed during a Thursday panel presentation on Hermantown's "Decade of Change." City leaders also discussed trends in traffic flows, building permits, police incidents, utility expansion and other public improvements.
"There was a substantial increase in housing for Hermantown," city administrator Lynn Lander said. "It was the largest increase of the four largest cities in the county."
He said housing units went from 2,270 in 1990 to 2,822 in 2000. With that has been a corresponding increase in building permits. Over a 10-year period the city has averaged 36 homes and eight commercial buildings a year.
"We've been pretty constant --181 new homes since 1995," Lander said. "Looking at new construction we did very well."
Hermantown's biggest construction year was 1993, when the city recorded $15 million worth of permits.
On school enrollment, the city is holding its own. From 1997 to 2001, enrollment eked up nearly 1 percent. For the same period Duluth dropped about 9 percent, Hibbing dropped nearly 13 percent and Cloquet was down about 5 percent.
"We felt fortunate we were not a loser during that three-year period," he said.
Lander acknowledged that growth has put pressure on Hermantown's 10 member police force. "We've seen a doubling of complaints and incidents since 1990," he said. And with about 5,000 emergency calls annually, Hermantown ranks second in the county.
Growth means more vehicles and Lander said there has been a significant increase in traffic at the major intersections. "We've almost seen a doubling of the traffic volume through the city," he said.
One thing growth hasn't fueled is an increase in city staff. Since 1990, Hermantown has added the equivalent of only 3.25 full-time employees, bringing it to 26.25.
"I'm proud to announce we've accomplished this with basically the same staff we started with in 1990," he said.
Lander said 2002 will be one of Hermantown's biggest construction years. The city is planning about $5.4 million worth of projects including street upgrades, sewer improvements and a new 650,000 gallon water tower.
Sewer lines have been one tool Hermantown uses to guide development. The city also follows an updated master plan.
He said the city's future challenges will be providing services to an expanding population, finding ways to pay for services and reducing the county tax burden on Hermantown property.

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