Comprehensive Plan Updates

All cities, counties and townships within the seven-county metropolitan region must prepare a comprehensive plan and update that plan as needed every 10 years. Fort Snelling and the cities of Rockford, Hanover, Northfield and New Prague are exempt. Counties must prepare comprehensive plans, although Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Dakota Counties do not have to prepare a land use plan.

The Council is charged with reviewing local comprehensive plans. We must review a plan for completeness before initiating the review process for an update or an amendment. A plan update is considered complete when it includes the elements required by statute and contains sufficient information for us to evaluate the following three primary criteria:

  • Conformance with metropolitan system plans.

  • Consistency with adopted policy plans.

  • Compatibility with plans of affected and adjacent jurisdictions.

The minimum requirements sections under each Plan Element page provide you with the necessary information to submit a complete plan for review. These sections will help you understand the review process and steps to take to help you successfully complete your plan update. You can also find a checklist of minimum submittal requirements on your Community Page. Comprehensive plan updates are required to be submitted for review by December 31, 2018.

Before sending your Comprehensive Plan Update to Metropolitan Council for review, your community must complete the following steps in this order:

  • Adjacent community review.

  • Public hearing by planning body of your organization.

  • Governing body authorization to submit plan to the Metropolitan Council for review.

Adjacent Community Review

Before formally submitting your local comprehensive plan update to the Metropolitan Council, you must provide adjacent and affected jurisdictions the opportunity to review and comment on your plan update. A mandatory six month review period accommodates this requirement. It is important to factor this review into your schedule so that you can still meet the submittal deadline of December 31, 2018.

Affected jurisdictions vary by community but can include school districts, watershed management organizations, state and federal agencies, park implementing agencies, transit providers, commissions, and adjacent cities, townships and counties. We have listed these affected jurisdictions for you on your Community Page.

Prior to formal submittal of your local comprehensive plan update to the Council, all affected jurisdictions must provide comments, or the six month time period must elapse. The comments received by these jurisdictions and your subsequent response must be included with your formal plan update submittal. You do not have to wait for the full six months to elapse if you have already received comments from all affected jurisdictions.

There are many ways to share your plans with affected jurisdictions. Here are a few examples:

  • Upload your draft comprehensive plan update onto your community’s webpage and email affected jurisdictions a link to your community’s website, OR

  • Send a digital copy (CD), OR

  • Print hard copies of the plan

We’ve gathered an example of notification (Word document) to local governments to initiate adjacent community review.

Your Local Process

State law requires communities to hold a public hearing on their draft comprehensive plan update, prior to submitting the plan to the Council. Depending on the form of government you have, you may either hold this hearing at the city council or county board, or at your planning commission. You can hold as many public hearings as you deem necessary; however, the one held by the planning body prior to official submittal to the Council is required. Consult with your community’s ordinances for your local requirements.

After your public hearing, your elected officials must take action to authorize your plan update to be submitted to the Metropolitan Council for review. We’ve prepared a model resolution (Word document) for your reference.

When you submit your plan, you must include the following along with your plan:

  • affected jurisdictions comments and your community's responses to those comments, and

  • a copy of your adopted local resolution authorizing your plan to be submitted to us for review.

If you have any questions on submitting your plan, please contact your Sector Rep.

Online Submittal

We developed a registration and online submittal tool to receive your comprehensive plan updates, amendments, supplemental information and preliminary submittals for review. This new tool will make the submittal process easier, reduce the need for paper copies, provide a simplified form, and eliminate delays in receiving your plan and initiating review of your plan update.

The online submittal requires a simple registration step. Once registered and logged in, you can complete a short form online and upload your document for review. Check out the online submittal on your Community Page and read How To Submit Online (PDF) for detailed instructions on How to Register (PDF) and submit your comprehensive plan update, preliminary plans, plan amendments or supplemental information.

Alternative Submittal by Mail

We still accept hard copies of plan update. If you prefer to print your plan update, you must also include an electronic copy. To meet completeness requirements, the electronic version must be a single PDF document of your entire plan and appendices, and it must be a searchable PDF (not scanned image).

Your hard copy must also have other materials with your plan including the Comprehensive Plan Update Application Form (PDF), comments from affected jurisdictions, and a copy of your adopted local resolution authorizing your plan to be submitted to us for review. Mail your plan to us at the address below:

Reviews Coordinator
Metropolitan Council
390 North Robert Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
[email protected]

Preliminary Plan Review by Council Staff

The Metropolitan Council offers the option of a preliminary review of the draft local comprehensive plan update. The preliminary review process is optional, but encouraged to make your formal review process easier. The preliminary review of the local plan can help identify any major issues prior to the formal review process, which is tied to a statutory review process and timeline.

This preliminary review helps to identify missing information and allows staff from both the Council and the community to work together to resolve any potential conformance, consistency or compatibility issues. Contact your Sector Rep to see if a preliminary review would be helpful for your community.

We aim to provide preliminary review comments to you in about 30 calendar days. You can submit your plan for review beginning January 1, 2016. We will accept plans for preliminary review through September 30, 2018.

Your preliminary review can be submitted online, just like your official comprehensive plan update or a comprehensive plan amendment. See the information on How to Submit Online (PDF).

Comprehensive Plan Update Review

You must submit your plan to us for review by December 31, 2018.

When you submit your plan update, we review the plan for completeness. This step ensures that the plan includes all of the required elements and supporting information we need to evaluate it for conformance with system plans, consistency with Council policies, and compatibility with plans of affected jurisdictions. We have 15 business days to determine completeness. If we find your plan incomplete for review, our letter to you will identify the missing items, and review of the plan will be suspended until we receive supplemental information.

If your plan is found to be complete for review, we have 120 calendar days (from the day we initially received your plan) to complete our review and to take final action on your plan. Taking final action on your plan means that our committees reviewed and recommended action to the Council, and then the Council determined whether or not your plan can be put into effect.

Before going to the Council, all plans go to the Community Development Committee for their review and recommendation. If your comprehensive plan includes a Tier II Sewer Plan, it will also go to the Environmental Committee for review. Tier II Sewer Plans are required for all communities that have regional sewer service or have plans for regional sewer service in this planning period, and for all communities that operate their own wastewater treatment facilities.

Once the Council makes its determination, we will send a letter explaining their action and your next steps. We will include our staff report for your records.

You can follow your review process with the Status Tracker on your Community Page, or contact your Sector Rep with any questions.

If we find that your plan does not conform to our system plans, and it either has the potential to have a substantial impact on a metropolitan system or to represent a significant departure from a system plan, we can require you to modify your plan. A plan modification can be contested. Minnesota law defines the specific legal process for plan modifications (MN Statute 473.175) and contesting a requirement for plan modification (MN Statute 473.866).

On November 15, the Metropolitan Council approved a second application process for planning grant communities to request an extension to the December 31, 2018 submittal deadline for comprehensive plan updates. The grant communities are eligible to make a request of up to 6 additional months to submit their plan, or through June 30, 2019. Application must be submitted by December 21, 2018, and must include the following items:

Once we’ve received an application, we will work with the community to amend the planning grant agreement to reflect the new deadline. Requests should be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to:

Reviews Coordinator
390 North Robert Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

Please contact your Sector Representative if you have any questions.

Once your plan has gone through the review process by the Council and may be placed into effect, there are a few more steps to take before you are finished with your comprehensive plan update.

Within nine months of the Metropolitan Council’s final action, you must:

  • Formally adopt your final comprehensive plan update and comprehensive sewer plan by resolution. If we have recommended changes, you need to incorporate those changes into the plan or respond to the Council before you complete the final adoption of your plan. Here are some examples of resolutions of adoption (Word document).

  • Submit a copy of your resolution indicating final approval of your plan update, including the comprehensive sewer plan to us.

    • ​Your comprehensive sewer plan only becomes effective once you’ve completed the final adoption of your comprehensive plan update. You may not implement plans to alter, expand, or improve the local sewage disposal system until this is complete.

    • Communities without a comprehensive sewer plan can use this example of the adopting resolution (Word document).

  • Submit one electronic copy and one hard copy of your complete plan update to us. The electronic copy can be submitted online. The electronic copy must be a single searchable PDF (not scanned image) document. A hard copy is still necessary so our library can make all final adopted plans available for public review.

  • Adopt official controls as described in your adopted comprehensive plan update and submit copies of your updated official controls to us within 30 days after adoption. The Council does not officially review these, but retains them for tracking and information purposes.

  • Adoption of official controls or fiscal devices that conflict with your comprehensive plan or which permit activities that conflict with metropolitan system plans is not permitted. If your official controls conflict with your plan, they must be amended within nine months following adoption of your plan.

After your plan is adopted, it is common to amend the plan over time as a result of new development projects, completion of planning studies, changes in policy direction, or routine updates with new information.

Please refer to the Comprehensive Plan Amendments page for detailed guidance on:

  • When to Amend Your Plan

  • What To Do Before Amending Your Plan

  • Review Timelines

  • Content Requirements for an Amendment

  • How to Submit the Amendment

  • Administrative Review of Certain Plan Amendments

  • Local Water Management and Local Water Supply Plan Amendments

Amendments to Comprehensive Plans

The new deadline for amendments to 2030 comprehensive plans has passed. Please keep in mind the following as you consider potential amendments to your 2040 comprehensive plan:

  • Your community’s existing 2030 comprehensive plan will remain in full force and effect until your community has adopted your 2040 comprehensive plan after authorization from the Metropolitan Council.

  • If your community has not yet submitted your 2040 comprehensive plan for review, any changes that would otherwise be proposed as amendments should be incorporated into your submittal prior to the Council reviewing and acting on the proposed plan.

  • You should ensure to continue to meet the adjacent and affected jurisdictional review requirements for any changes to your draft 2040 comprehensive plans.

  • Your community can amend your 2040 comprehensive plan following formal adoption by the City and transmittal of the final document to the Council. 

Contact your Sector Representative if you have additional questions.