How do we make a Comprehensive Plan? Like most big projects, Northfield hires consultants to carry out the bulk of the work with direction from City staff and (in this case) the Planning Commission. Our consultants this time around are from Stantec who are working with NEOO Partners on the community engagement pieces.
Discovery is gathering data. Consultants review Northfield’s existing plans, update the demographic data since 2008 (with some new data points this time), and asking community members what they want in or for Northfield in general terms.
Vision takes the Discovery data to synthesize it into one vision to guide the Plan and set some basic principles for the plan going forward. Public engagement in this phase is asking whether the Vision reflects what people said in the Discovery phase.
Trends and Alternatives begins the real planning phase. The first two phases develop a destination to aim for; Trends & Alternatives begins to plan for how to get there by using the data from Discover (for example, how many more people do we think are going to live here?) and aspirations from the Vision (for example, Northfield should be a place where everyone can afford to live) and consider what that means for housing (for example) – how many units, prioritizing affordability, etc. Because all the categories – housing, transportation, sustainability, etc. – are interconnected, this is a difficult and important task for coordinating how Northfield grows. Scenario planning here would be helpful to compare different choices and show the community how development choices have different effects.
Public engagement is likely to become more targeted at the groups who are most affected by particular aspects of this section – engaging the business community, school district, developers, and other segments of the community as needed.
Plan Document takes it all and writes a draft of the actual Plan. The Plan should be an actual plan which guides how the City can do its capital planning. How much sewer capacity do this many houses require, what street connections and improvements will be needed (and what do those streets look like), and how do we do it all sustainably for tax payers and the planet?
Adoption is the process of public hearings, final editing, and approval by the Council. This phase is mostly procedural rather than substantive. The Planning Commission is required to hold a public hearing and recommend the Plan to the Council; Council votes on to approve the Plan. This is slated to happen by the end of 2024. Once adopted, the City begins the work of determining what other tools are needed to implement the Plan such as updates to the zoning code, street planning and design changes, fiscal impact analysis…and more.
As the process moves along, the links below will take you to information on that phase.
June-December 2023: Complete! Click the Discovery button for details and documents
January 2024 – : under construction
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