Planning Overview

Planning in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area is unique. This is in large part due to the adoption of the Metropolitan Land Planning Act (§473) and the subsequent formation of the Metropolitan Council. The Council is tasked with ensuring the orderly and economic development within the seven-county metropolitan area. In addition, we have operational responsibilities related to our regional systems. The statutorily-defined roles in regional policy and planning, as well as operational functions for regional systems are unlike any other regional planning agency in the nation.

Regional Planning

Following each decennial census, the regional planning effort starts with adoption of a regional development plan, Thrive MSP 2040. Thrive establishes a regional vision and adopts land use development policies through 2040. The regional system and policy plans follow and are adopted with policies that reflect Thrive. The Council has a System Plan for Parks, Water Resources, and Transportation. Policy plans are adopted for Housing and Water Supply.

The Council is also responsible for reviewing local comprehensive plans and providing technical assistance to communities as they work through their local comprehensive planning process.

Local Planning

The plans of each jurisdiction in the seven-county area build upon the regional planning vision. Local comprehensive plans reflect regional policies at the same time as identifying important local goals and objectives. This approach allows both the individual community and the region to succeed.

Using the Local Planning Handbook as a guide to write your plan will help when we review local comprehensive plans for completeness. A complete plan addresses the issues outlined in the Metropolitan Land Planning Act and contains all of the information necessary for the Council to review a community’s plan for its conformance to regional systems, consistency with regional policies, and compatibility with the plans of adjacent and affected jurisdictions.

Local plans are also required to include specific content areas. The Local Planning Handbook is organized around these content areas called Plan Elements. Six Plan Elements reflect statutorily required content areas. Two Plan Elements are identified as issues of regional importance and are reflective of Thrive MSP 2040’s policies. All Plan Element pages in the Local Planning Handbook outline minimum requirements, provide suggestions for value-added planning efforts, connect you to resources specific to that Plan Element, and identify how we can help you with your planning efforts.