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Sherburne County is situated between two rapidly growing and economically healthy metropolitan areas. Sherburne County has and will continue to experience rapid residential growth, with much of the growth occurring in the rural areas of the County. There has not been a proportional growth in the commercial industrial base in the County. These trends have created a County with a night time commuter population with a lack of a diversified tax base with which to pay for necessary services.
Sherburne County is located in east central Minnesota. It is centered between the St. Cloud Metro area and the Twin Cities. Even though the County has been included as part of the St. Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) since 1970, it has since become part of the Twin Cities MSA. Sherburne County is linked strongly both to the St. Cloud Metro area and the Twin Cities area. St. Cloud is expanding southeast while the Twin Cities are expanding northwest.
Sherburne County is triangular in shape with the Mississippi River forming the southwestern boundary. The County covers 431 square miles. The population is concentrated along the Mississippi River area with the highest density of development being found in the southeast area adjacent to the Twin Cities and in the northwest adjacent to St. Cloud.
The topography of the County is flat to gently rolling. Major portions of the soils are too sandy and poor for general agriculture. Sherburne County is home to the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and the Sand Dunes State Forest.
Sherburne County has excellent transportation linkages to the rest of the state as well as to the rest of the nation. The two major highways that run through the County are U.S. Highways #10 and #169. They provide four-lane access on the southern and eastern edges of the County.
There are also three points of access to Interstate #94 that runs south of the Mississippi River near the southern border. These accesses are Minnesota Highways #101, #25 and #24 at Elk River, Big Lake and Clear Lake, respectively. Minnesota Highway #25 crosses the County north south. Minnesota Highway #95 transverses the northern edge, just outside the County.
Excellent rail service is available to businesses along U.S. Highway #10. The main line of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad from Chicago to Seattle runs through the County. Amtrak also runs on this line, but there are no stops made within Sherburne County. A major commuter rail corridor is in the planning process to run from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities along this same line. The North Star Corridor may open in 2003.
There are four airports in Sherburne County. These are located in St. Cloud, Princeton, Clear Lake and Big Lake. Princeton is the site of a regional Federal Flight Service Station.