Northfield 2045 – latest updates

Much has been happening with the Comprehensive Plan in the last couple of months. I’ve updated the Northfield 2045 pages with more links to documents, maps, and other information about where we are now. Your comments are welcome (subject to the moderation guidelines below).

I’d say we’re getting to the really fun part now.

The early engagement phase is always interesting; we learn what the community values about Northfield as well as the places or activities we should improve. The vision phase is a challenge to take all that input and distill it to a short statement about future Northfield. The Planning Commission and Steering Committee tested and improved how we say things to capture the right tone and intention.

Now the consultants are reading all our plans and mining them sketch recommendations for the future in the Analysis segment. This should be when we learn about how earlier choices created challenges we face now or set us up for success. It should also be when we consider what we carry forward from earlier policies, what is now obsolete, and how we revise our planning based on what we’ve learned from the community and current policy. It’s problem-solving time, in other words.

After this, the consultants start drafting the plan. Here’s what I’ll be working toward in the plan:

1. Policy direction will be more focused. There will not be that much policy change from the last two comprehensive plans.  The public engagement, steering committee, vision and values all reinforce the direction established earlier. Northfield needs to refine and amplify current policy direction for affordable housing, better streets, climate action, and planning/prioritizing city investment from aspirational statements to commitments to action.

2. Implementation goals: The biggest change I’m working toward is ensuring this plan leads directly to implementation including revising city code, improving project design, consolidating all the other plans, and giving the Council better tools for evaluating the fiscal impact of projects. Earlier plans did not prioritize projects or tie planning to the budget and capital improvement plan; this plan will change that.  Further, the plan will be more holistic.  Rather than having a chapter for housing, one for transportation, one for climate, etc. the goal is to ensure that transportation is integral to land use (and vice versa), housing and economic development cannot be separated, and climate and equity will be the lenses through which all actions are viewed. 

3. Easy and intuitive to use: The 2008 plan is almost 170 pages of repetitive and ponderous prose with ten goals, 53 objectives, and 279 (!?!!) strategies which are not prioritized. After 15 years and a lot of post-it notes, I think I can navigate it relatively well (but that’s just the land use chapter). Northfield 2045 is going to be shorter, intuitive, prioritized, and accessible to the community as well as developers, city staff, and other expert users. It is going to coordinate all the plans (and archive some).

4. Guide for capital planning and budgeting: No comprehensive plan nor the strategic plan (which is neither strategic nor a plan) has yet done what it needs to do which is guide capital planning and city budgeting. Having a wonderful vision is useless unless Northfield can be economically sustainable. No, I don’t know how this will all be accomplished yet.

Join the conversation.

Comments are moderated and require a full name for transparency and accountability. I don’t play “invisible dodgeball” where anonymous people throw comments and insults at me. I try to respond to all questions and often like to ask some, too.

  • What’s good: questions of all sorts, comments from your perspective, thoughtful criticism (which can be very critical) and requests/demands for more information.
  • What I screen out: anonymous comments, comments without full names or with obvious screen names, personal attacks (on elected officials, city staff, other commenters, or anyone else) and unsubstantiated claims about the intentions of other people or city government.

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