Get involved in regional planning

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the Metropolitan Council, the Twin Cities regional planning agency, is stirring.  They’re getting ready to update the Regional Development Framework.  The RDF provides the basis for pretty much everything the Metropolitan Council does around four “systems”: transportation, aviation, water resources (including wastewater collection and treatment) and regional parks and open space.  The RDF sets a framework for specific “policy plans“, and it also sets the stage for updating the region’s 190 comprehensive plans that control things like local land use, transportation, park land and zoning.  If you’re interested in having an impact on how local land use decisions get made, this is the place to start.

The RDF was last updated in 2004, and has been implicated by some (along with it’s predecessor) in the decentralization of jobs and enabling of sprawl.  Others disagree.  Whatever the case, there are hints that this update will plot a different course for the region than we’ve seen before.

At the Council’s most recent Committee of the Whole meeting, members reviewed the Draft Vision for the 2040 Framework as well as a draft outline of the new document.  At first the new vision seems a little dry, but if you read carefully and contrast it with the old “four policies” from the 2004 update, you’ll notice some key differences.  For one, note the use of the phrase “multimodal transportation system”, which was previously absent and the elimination of wiggle words like “encouraging”, “seeking” and “working” from the section referring to natural resources.  Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but I’m also encouraged by the elimination of specific reference to the region’s resources versus simply “resources”.  To me this implies acknowledgement that we’re using/abusing resources that come from outside our region, not just inside.

From the COW meeting we also get a preview of who the Council has asked to give them feedback on how the RDF should be updated.  If you look closely, you’ll spot a fellow Streets.MN contributor.  Anyway, this is the time to get involved if you’re concerned or interested in the future of the region.  Attend a meeting or call your Met Council representative (yes, you have one if you live in the 7-county area).

I assume the Council will be looking for more participation from the general public in the future to update the RDF (if not, definitely start calling your representative), but in the meantime, starting thinking about these three big questions (from the February 15th meeting):

  1. What do you see as the big issues and challenges facing the region over the next 30 years?
  2. What roles could and should the Regional Development Framework play in addressing these issues?
  3. What advice do you have for Metropolitan Council members as the Council embarks on updating the Regional Development Framework?

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