Simply stated zoning has the general purpose of promoting the health, safety, or general welfare of the public and environment. The development and adoption of a County-wide Comprehensive Plan (PDF) is the first step in the creation of zoning. The Comprehensive Plan, a document prepared by and through input from the residents in the County, outlines trends in the County and discusses the wants and needs of the people as they relate to future land use and development within the County. The County's Zoning Ordinance (PDF) and Subdivision Ordinance (PDF) are tools by which the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan are carried out.
Wadena County adopted its first Comprehensive Plan and subsequent Zoning Ordinance in 1971 under, and in accordance with, Minnesota Statute 394. Although the County Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance have been amended throughout the years, in some cases to address changes as they happened and, in some cases, to be proactive in the anticipation of change, the underlying message conveyed by both has remained the same: To protect and preserve the County’s agricultural and forestry heritage and to allow for growth and development within the County so long as growth is not injurious or detrimental to the County’s agricultural and forestry, recreation, and community areas.