City drafting development guide that outlines plan for Minneapolis of 2030

You may not have 100 percent control over what you’ll look like in 20 years. But you can have some say in how you want Minneapolis to look like decades from now.

After eight years, the city is updating its Comprehensive Plan, which is supposed to act as a policy guide for future planning, zoning and development decisions, according to spokespersons for the city.

In a nutshell, here is what the plan is and why the city is updating it:

What is the Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth?

It’s what the city calls its update to the Comprehensive Plan. It’s basically a blueprint for how city officials and residents want the city to look and feel like in 2030. The city last updated the Comprehensive Plan in 2000.

In this update, city staff looked at land use, transportation, housing, economic development, public services and facilities, the environment, open spaces and parks, urban design, heritage preservation, and arts and culture. They, with the help of resident feedback this spring, came up with policy goals that are outlined in the draft plan.

Why does the city do this?

State law mandates it. It requires cities to address certain policy areas, such as economic development. Minneapolis adopted its first Comprehensive Plan in 1954. It’s not the only city that has one. Other cities across the state have comprehensive plans, too.

Does the plan have any teeth?

Believe it or not, it does. State law requires the city to update the plan, which the Metropolitan Council will review before the City Council can adopt it.

“It’s definitely a binding document for the city,” said Karin Berkholtz, community planning supervisor for Minneapolis.

Individual city departments will be responsible for implementing various sections of the plan, she said. For example, the city’s Public Works Department and the Metropolitan Council will be in charge of putting the transportation goals into action. Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) and Regulatory Services will be responsible for housing.

Is anything new?

There are several changes. They include the incorporation of the Uptown Small Area Plan, which the City Council approved in late January, and new chapters.

Prior to finalizing the Uptown Small Area Plan, development in the area was done on a piecemeal basis without a guiding document, said Council Member Ralph Remington (10th Ward).

“For once, we have something that puts developers, residents and business leaders, as well as other stakeholders, all on the same page. Now we have a document that guides us,” Remington said.

In the update, there are also new chapters on heritage preservation and urban design. The heritage preservation chapter is motivated by the city’s desire to recognize “culturally significant assets that warrant protection and restoration,” Berkholtz said. The urban design chapter aims at making the city more pedestrian-friendly, which means having improved street-scaping and lighting, she said.

What is the timeline?

The updates aren’t created and approved overnight.

The process began last spring when the city hosted forums on the plan. During the summer and fall, staff took the comments and incorporated them into a draft plan, which was published in December. Throughout January, the city held information sessions and invited residents to comment online.

During February, staff will review those comments before submitting the plan to the Council for review. After the City Council signs off on the plan, which is expected to happen in July, the Metropolitan Council will have a year to review it. Finally, the City Council can adopt the plan, Berkholtz said. Look for that to happen sometime in 2009.

Where to find the plan

The plan can be found online at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/planning/comp_plan_update_draft_plan.asp. Copies are on hand at libraries and neighborhood offices, too.

The 45-day public comment period started ticking in early January, but there will be additional opportunities to weigh in this spring when the Council holds public hearings.

When asked whether the city takes suggestions from the public seriously, Karin Berkholtz said: “We do take them into consideration.”

Brady Gervais can be reached at bgervais@mnpubs.com or 436-4373