Planning together for a prosperous region
A comprehensive plan helps a community realize its vision for the future. But without coordinated, regional planning for growth — such as where major roads and sewer pipes will go — those individual plans could add up to disorder fast. Not to mention inefficient spending of public money.
Since the Metropolitan Council adopted Thrive MSP 2040 and policy plans for transportation, water resources and regional parks, all 188 communities in the seven-county metro have been working to update their comprehensive plans. Looking at growth patterns, projecting housing needs, and evaluating infrastructure like wastewater treatment and roads is a big job for any community. But for many small cities and townships, who often have just a single staff person, the task is huge.
That’s why I was happy to hear a great story from one of our planners, Patrick Boylan. A few weeks ago, he was talking to a township clerk. As the township’s only employee, she was charged with leading the comprehensive plan update and submitting it to the Met Council for review. She was using the checklist that Council staff had tailored for her community — and 187 others — in our online Local Planning Handbook.
When Patrick asked if she needed anything she responded: “I’ve got my checklist, I’m consulting it almost as often as I consult my Bible.” Patrick was pleased to hear that the tools and support we provide make comprehensive planning easier.
I’m proud of the work our Community Development division has been doing to try to lessen the load for all the communities we partner with, who under state law must update their plans every 10 years. We launched the Handbook in 2015 to help guide communities through the comprehensive planning process. We’ve also hosted more than 30 learning events, including workshops, a day-long conference, and online webinars, and produced an array of self-guided learning materials.
These local plans are critical to having a thriving, prosperous region. As individual communities add population, housing, and industry we must ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support that growth.
Last month, Baytown Township finished its comprehensive plan 10 months early. A longtime Baytown board member commented that a close working relationship with Met Council’s Community Development staff led to a plan that “fits with our community,” concluding, “We appreciate their cooperation and efforts to work with us.”
That’s music to my ears. When we work as partners, the entire region benefits.