Cities in the region support and influence TOD in specific and direct ways. Cities regulate development and maintain close relationships with their residents, landowners, businesses, and developers. Implementing TOD can often be complex and controversial, requiring coordination and collaboration with multiple property owners, neighborhood groups, and different levels and units of government. Core responsibilities of cities include comprehensive and station area planning, land use regulations, public infrastructure planning, and their role as a redevelopment and economic development authority.

METRO Blue Line Bloomington Central StationCities carry out comprehensive planning, including detailed station area planning that informs or is part of their comprehensive plan. Cities set the stage for future development and infrastructure improvements by engaging their residents, creating a vision, and establishing policies. They identify potential regulations, capital projects, and financial resources for implementing their vision.

The Metropolitan Council’s Local Planning Handbook addresses all elements of a comprehensive plan, including those related to transit and TOD. The 2040 Transportation Policy Plan (TPP) has new content on land use and local planning, including policies on, and requirements for, density around station areas. For cities with transitways under development, planners should be aware of the sequencing of planning activities to support the transitway and meet regional requirements for station areas.

Station area planning involves detailed planning for the area immediately around a transit station, typically covering a half-mile radius. Counties often fund and coordinate station area planning along a corridor. A station area plan can inform future updates to a community’s comprehensive plan. Alternatively, a community may draft a separate plan document in such a way that it can be incorporated into the comprehensive plan by reference. Many communities will do additional planning to produce increasingly detailed plans focused on implementation.

Vintage on Selby under construction on the A Line.Cities regulate land use and development. This means creating, modifying, and administering zoning codes, subdivision codes, and/or form based codes. A community may update its codes to ensure that future development and infrastructure will be consistent with policy and plans for TOD. Typically, this might include updating provisions in an ordinance that affect features like building use, scale, orientation, and design, and the amount of landscaping or parking. Changes in land use regulations to support TOD are often coordinated with planning for public rights-of-way and green space. This is done so that the relationship of buildings to future design of streets, sidewalks, and open space are clearly understood. The Planning Fundamentals section has further information on content for and approaches to regulating development near transit.

When preparing a station area plan, as with the comprehensive plan, cities consider how to schedule and approach potential regulatory changes in sync with the timing and sequencing of land use and infrastructure changes. For policymakers, staff, and developers, it is important to clarify how and when regulatory changes will occur as part of an implementation strategy. Doing so can avoid conflicts between a city’s comprehensive plan and the city’s official controls, where state law requires the city to eliminate the conflict by amending the official controls.

City infrastructure includes local roadways, pedestrian infrastructure, and bicycling facilities. Planning and engineering efforts often include coordinating with other levels of government including counties. The design of local roadways and rights-of-way, including pedestrian and bicycle facilities, significantly influences the character of places as well as the quality of walking and bicycling to transit. Many cities develop community-wide bicycle and pedestrian system plans that consider access to transit as well as the walkability of neighborhoods near transit. Some cities develop Complete Streets policies or adopt design guides for sidewalks, bicycle facilities, streetscape, and roadways. The design of new roadways, the reconstruction of roadways, and major maintenance of existing roadways all present opportunities to improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.

For further information on approaches to designing non-motorized infrastructure and amenities along public rights-of-way, see Connections under Planning Fundamentals.

A city has the ability to support TOD through its redevelopment and economic development authority, and can catalyze the early stages of TOD implementation. Cities have the authority to purchase and develop land, or to assist with the development of land. They can use grants and financial tools, such as Tax Increment Financing, to improve the feasibility of projects led by the private sector. By contributing financing, cities can influence development outcomes to meet public objectives. Cities may enter into development contracts with developers in order to bring about public objectives like creating affordable housing or including public amenities like plazas. Some public financial resources are targeted to TOD, including the Metropolitan Council’s Livable Communities TOD Grants and Hennepin County’s Transit Oriented Development Grant Program.


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