Farmington residents with an interest in shaping how their city develops have several opportunities available to them if they can put together an application by Jan. 1.

The city is taking applications for its heritage preservation commission, parks and recreation commission, planning commission, Rambling River Center Advisory Board and water board. The appointed positions run from two to three years and include monthly meeting and some homework.

All applications are due by Jan. 1. There will be interviews in January and terms will begin Feb. 1.

For residents, the commissions are a way to get involved without the commitment - or the public profile - of running for elected office. For the city, they’re a way to get input from residents on everything from zoning decisions to park shelters and playgrounds.

“We really use them a lot as a sounding board to bounce ideas off of them,” parks and recreation director Randy Distad said. “It gives us a pulse on what the community is thinking.”

Parks board members have input on the city’s parks master plan and made a recommendation to the Farmington City Council about construction of a new swimming pool and athletic complex.

Dirk Rotty has been helping with those kinds of decisions for more than 30 years. He served on the park board for a few years in the early 1980s after his neighbor encouraged him to get involved. He went from there to the city’s planning commission, where he is currently chair. He also served on the city council for a few years.

“I enjoy it,” Rotty said. “It’s just kind of a little way to give back to the community which I grew up in.”

Rotty said he has liked having a chance to watch the city develop and know he has had a role in shaping that development. His main role on the planning commission is to make sure the city’s ordinances are applied consistently and fairly. The planning commission also reviews development proposals before they go to the city council.

Serving on a commission takes work. In addition to monthly meetings, there are proposals to review and other work to get prepared for discussions at meetings.

We’re looking for somebody that’s committed to attending the meetings, coming prepared to the meetings and being willing to speak up, even if it’s not what the majority wants,” Distad said. “We want input from all sides.”

Rotty, who plans to apply for another term this year, said a commission member has to be open to new ideas.

“It’s somebody that’s open minded that can look at things and see what’s in the best interest of the community,” he said.

Anyone interested in applying for a commission position can find an application at the city’s website, ci.farmington.mn.us or call 651-280-6503 for information.