Why do Comprehensive Planning? Part 3.

In the previous two parts, I talked about regional population, sewer and transportation planning. In this piece, I want to talk about how these regional plans are translated into municipal plans.

The Metropolitan Council does other planning that is integrated with sewer and transportation plans. Sewer planning is integrated with surface water and drinking water planning because what goes in one pipe comes out the other. With its population planning, the Council also does planning for affordable housing and regional parks.  The current Metropolitan Council Plan is called “Thrive 2040.” You can find it here:


Cities and counties are required to plan for the things the Metropolitan Council includes in its regional plan. The Council breaks down its regional plan into city and county impacts, so each city knows its part of the overall regional plan. Each city and county receive a “system statement” from the Metropolitan Council that tells them how much population growth they need to plan for as well as what infrastructure improvements they should include in their long-rage planning. The City then needs to make a city comprehensive plan that includes all the elements that the Met Council told it it needed.

The technical term is “conformance” – local plans have to be in conformance with the regional plans. In this way, the state plans sync with the regional plan and the city and county plans sync with the regional plan. It sounds complicated, but it works in practice to coordinate all the levels of government.

The system statement tells the city or county:

  • What population growth it should plan for.
  • How much affordable housing it should plan for.
  • Transportation infrastructure to plan for, including metropolitan highways, aviation, and transit.
  • Water Resources, including sewer, surface water, and water supply planning.
  • Regional parks and trail infrastructure.

If you are curious about sytem statements, you can find them here:


Cities and counties then adopt their own long-range plans. The existing Minneapolis 2030 plan can be found here:


The City has proposed a new long-range plan, Minneapolis 2040. It can be found here:


The work of planning does not end with the adoption of a new comprehensive plan. There are subsidiary plans that will be adopted, like a new transportation plan, a new affordable housing plan, a surface water plan and most importantly, a new zoning plan. The zoning plan lays out how each piece of land can be developed in the City. The zoning plan will set out the details of the land use of the City. It will determine things like how close to the lot line an apartment building can be built, how tall a condo can be, and what parking requirements will be. Minneapolis will be working on this in the next two years. So more to come.

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