City Council stuff this week

moviesignIt’s the 4th Monday which often means the Council gets a meetingless evening.  Not this week, however. There is a special Council meeting (“special” incidentally, does not mean that there is something special or ‘specially important or ‘specially controversial on the agenda but only that the meeting is not a “regular” meeting happening on the 1st or 3rd Monday and requires public notice, etc.   Sometimes special meetings are really special, but often the business is routine but out of synch with the regular calendar).

On the agenda this week: consider approving an outdoor dining permit for the Hideaway on Division Street (we approved changes to the ordinance at our last meeting to continue to permit these uses) and consider a grant proposal put forward by the Environmental Quality Commission to fund an energy coordinator and several energy conservation initiatives.   As with the wind ordinance, this another backwards policy decision – that is, the previous Council accepted (but did not adopt) the Energy Task Force report and its recommendations are not (yet) the policy of the City.  I’m particularly dubious about funding staff on “soft money” because the sustainablility of this practice is questionable.   Opposing the manner in which decisons are made tends to make folks think I’m opposed to the subject matter, but this isn’t so –  I am in favor of moving ahead with good energy and resource management, but we’re putting the cart before the horse again.

Then we adjouorn to a worksession where we consider the skateboard park again after the Council sent the issue back to the Park Board, a proposal for allowing administrative citations which was postponed from a previous worksession, and a discussion of the NDDC‘s Community Expectations policy.

New Comprehensive Plan is almost here!

The new Comprehensive Plan is almost here and I’m thrilled. 

Back in 2004 when I chaired the Planning Commission, I wrote this about the 2001 Comprehensive Plan.

Northfield, meet your Comprehensive Plan.

Hello, nice to meet you. Tell me about yourself Comp Plan…and what is it you do again…..?

Hi Northfield, I set goals for your growth and recommend steps to reach those goals: Basically, I help answer the questions: Where do you want to go and how will you get there?

After this, your conversation with Northfield’s Comp Plan will be rather like getting stuck talking to some boor at a party. You know the one, the guy who starts rambling on through a lot of long-winded and poorly thought-out ideas. He might have said some really interesting and useful things, but delivered them with so much hot air that you started looking around for someone to save you from this conversation so you can talk to someone who will just get to the point. Simply put, despite containing nuggets of good planning, it shows no clear vision of where Northfield wants to go nor how it will get there. I hope the Planning Commission and the community will focus this plan and make it a genuinely useful guide to Northfield’s future.

Dreams do come true. Since the end of 2006, the Planning Commission and City staff (with ACP consultants) have worked long and hard; other Boards and Commissions and many of you also contributed to the process in public meetings.

Now Northfield has a hugely improved Plan waiting to be adopted and, even better, the land development regulations are being revised right now to put some teeth in the Comp Plan.

You have 2 more chances to say something before the Council acts to adopt the Comp Plan:

First, there is an Open House Tuesday, September 23 at the Armory. After that, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on September 30 before making a formal recommendation to the Council.

I think we’ve really sharpened the tools in our development toolbox and now we need to use them to steer Northfield’s investments and development.