Northfield has a lot of plans and policies. All the plans should be part of the Comprehensive Plan (and consistent with its goals), but Northfield has not always incorporated later plans into the Comp Plan (and ensured consistency with its goals) so we have many plans and policies which are generally in agreement, but do not give the kind of planning and spending guidance that’s supposed to happen.
My sense of Northfield is that Council members, staff, passionate board and commission members, and interested residents get the idea that a plan for something is needed and it becomes a separate project. This speaks to the amazing energy in Northfield for working to make the city better, but there is no one responsible for plan and policy coordination.
Below are links to all the plans and policies along with a brief description. Much more could be said about which plans have made the greatest impact on the City’s work, how much of each plan made it into the Comprehensive Plan, and questions about what needs updating.
The 2008 Comprehensive Plan and its friends.
The plans below were “consulted” for the Comp Plan, but technical plans trump the Comp Plan in case of conflict (which could be troubling depending on the nature of the conflict).
2005 Natural resources inventory: In response to the rapid pace of development, Northfield commissioned this inventory to map the natural resources in the city and the urban expansion area to be able to better plan where development should happen to preserve natural resources.
2006 Streetscape Framework Plan: This plan both identified desirable downtown improvements and created a design guide to ensure aesthetic and functional improvements created a unified and identifiable downtown Northfield look and feel.
2006 Economic Development Plan was intended “to sound an alarm” because while Northfield is an amazing community with a great “sense of place,” connections to the metro, educated workforce and other assets, without active work on economic development is would be difficult to sustain what we’ve got.
2006 Comprehensive Water Plan is a technical plan addressing how the city provides drinking water to the city.
2007 Comprehensive Sanitary Sewer Plan is another technical plan for wastewater and wastewater treatment.
2008 Parks, Open Space, and Trail Plan has much useful thinking about a park system and took a Complete Streets approach long before the City adopted its policy.
2007 Greenway Corridor Action Plan is a regional plan for preserving green space and building trails following waterways and other natural features (as well as inside the city).
2008 Comprehensive Transportation Plan analyzed traffic issues current at the time and made projections about future traffic to plan for improvements.
Plans adopted after the 2008 Comprehensive Plan
These plans are listed on the City’s Plans page; they were not officially added to the Comprehensive Plan but generally follow the policy direction of the 2008 Comp Plan. The 2019 Pedestrian, Bike and Trail plan is the only one I know of which did the work of comparing previous plans.
2009 Safe Routes to School Plan: The Non-Motorized Transportation Task Force (a 2 year subcommittee of the Park and Recreation Advisory Board) wrote a grant for this plan; the roundabout at Jefferson Parkway and Highway 246 was one of its central recommendations. The 2019 Pedestrian, Bike and Trail Update added plans for Northfield High School and Arcadia Charter School which weren’t included in the 2009 Plan.
2012 Complete Streets Policy: The state of Minnesota adopted a Complete Streets policy in 2010 and cities followed suit. The basic policy is to shift from designing streets only to move car traffic without much delay, to creating streets for the land use context around them and to serve “all ages and abilities.”
2012 Gateway Corridor Improvement Plan: This plan built on a 2008 Comp Plan policy objective to improve the entrances into the City to create a defined visual entrance point to the city and signal the transition from the highway to urban streets.
2019 Climate Action Plan (calls for incorporating climate into the Comprehensive Plan and city code; this can happen with Northfield 2045 and subsequent code updates). The plan calls for Northfield to be a carbon-free community by 2050.
2019 Pedestrian, Bike and Trail plan update (which expressly calls for updating the Comp Plan and code, but this has not happened). This plan was intended to flesh out some of the policy direction in the Parks, Open Space and Trail Plan, Complete Streets policy, Safe Routes to School Plan and Comp Plan to make them more actionable.
2020 Surface water management plan addresses stormwater and flooding issues with a gesture at more sustainable green infrastructure.
2020 Riverfront Enhancement Action Plan: Plans for Bridge Square, Riverwalk (including on the river side of the new Archer development) and creating a regional park along the Cannon River. All the Comprehensive Plans and many of the others above advise the City to make the Cannon River a focus of the community. This plan includes thinking about the health of the river itself, flooding, and dam removal in addition to planning parks and other features on the river banks.
But wait, there’s more!
Beyond the City’s web page for plans, there are even more plans.
2021-24 Strategic Plan is neither a plan, nor strategic, but an exercise of having the Council identify priorities (based on ??) which are disconnected, lack detail, and should have followed the Comp Plan.
2019-2024 Cultural Plan was developed by the Arts and Cultural Commission to enhance arts and culture in Northfield, broadly speaking. It builds on other plans like the Gateway Corridor plan, promotes public art (and seeks funding for it), and more.
2020 Equity Plan is a good start which is mostly inward looking to revise how City Hall works more equitable, but doesn’t address the ways we have built and acted inequitably in the past.