University-area neighborhoods respond to Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan

The neighborhood organizations addressed concerns of accessibility and density for the draft-phase of the City of Minneapolis’ guiding plan.

J.D. Duggan

As the Minneapolis Comprehensive Plan community feedback deadline draws near, neighborhoods, including those around the University of Minnesota, are giving feedback about the overarching draft.

The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan lies in draft form until July 22, which is the deadline for feedback from city residents and neighborhood organizations. The months since its release in March have been filled with community engagement sessions and passionate discussions regarding plans for the city, as well as the accessibility and language of the document itself.

“I like the fact that we’re putting racial equity [and climate change] at the forefront,” said Ward 2 Council member Cam Gordon.

The plan features a list of density, equity and sustainability goals, among others, for the city in the coming decade. With the proposal to rezone a majority of the city, Gordon said the plan is not necessarily about creating more density but rather responding to the city’s ongoing growth.  

“The challenge becomes how are we going to manage that growth and density and still preserve what’s great about Minneapolis and why people want to come here and … stay here,” Gordon said.

Although the comprehensive plan has been available online since March 22, Karl Smith, board president of the Southeast Como Improvement Association, said the website was inaccessible for many residents. 

Smith said SECIA didn’t receive a PDF of the plan until mid-June, so the organization plans to request additional time for comments on the plan.

One of SECIA’s concerns is compromising the neighborhood’s character for increased density, which some board members say will open the neighborhood for developers to “snatch up” remaining single-family homes.

The neighborhood organization also worries the language of the 2040 plan won’t coincide with its own small area plan, which was approved by the City in 2016.

The small area plans are cited throughout the online draft, which takes a look at big-picture issues, Gordon said.

“I’m not expecting to lose the small area plans,” he said. 

The small area plans are important to him and other council members, and they will be incorporated into the comprehensive plan with modifications, he said.

Vince Netz, board president of the Prospect Park Association, said his neighborhood has worked on over 30 plans for Prospect Park in the last two decades.

“The small area plans do put teeth into these bigger broader policies,” Netz said. “Well now the 2040 plan is in conflict with most of the small area plans of the city and they will all need to be redone.”

PPA brought its concerns to the City, who suggested PPA make its feedback applicable to other neighborhoods.

“They don’t want just a one-off, because they don’t know how to do that,” Netz said.

In response, PPA wrote a 98th policy to the 97-policy 2040 plan, which creates language for innovation districts around the city. This policy would apply to the Towerside Innovation District in Prospect Park, as well as multiple other locations in the city that have been recognized as potential future innovation districts.

2040The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association will not be providing feedback for the plan, instead encouraging residents to comment as individuals, said Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of MHNA.

The plan will be adopted by the City Council and presented to the Metropolitan Council by the end of the year.

Correction: A previous version of the story said the 2040 plan was approved by the City in 2009. It was approved in 2016.