Planning for a prosperous region
The first job the Minnesota Legislature gave to the Metropolitan Council was planning for the orderly development of the seven-county metro area. In the half century since, we’ve been given other jobs like operating transit and wastewater treatment and supporting affordable housing. But good planning is at the core of all our work.
State law requires the Council to understand how our region is growing and changing, and to develop policies to ensure orderly growth. While the Council is good at identifying regional needs and challenges, counties, cities and townships are in the best position to make the actual plans to meet those challenges at the local level.
We support seven counties and 181 cities and townships as they update their local comprehensive plans and submit them to the Council every 10 years. We review the plans to ensure that they plan for areas to grow, enough housing, good transportation, and use of critical infrastructure like wastewater treatment.
It’s a big job. But because we’ve been working together, not as big as it could be. For example, our planners developed the nationally recognized online Local Planning Handbook, as well as a series of in-person and online trainings, to support local planners.
Right now, we are seeing a steady procession of comprehensive plans coming before the Council for review and authorization. By the end of the year — the deadline for submitting updates to local comprehensive plans — we expect to receive the majority of the region’s local plans.
The result of all this planning is seen in the prosperity and livability of our region. Surveys consistently rate our region as having one of the highest qualities of life in the nation, and people born here remain in the state to work and raise families at higher rates than most of the nation.
But our work continues. Regional prosperity is not shared by everyone. We have large disparities on measures of poverty, homeownership and employment between white residents and residents of color. Our region needs to redouble our efforts to eliminate these disparities. It’s not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do for our future.