Court orders halt to Minneapolis 2040 Plan

1 min read
September 7, 2023

Minneapolis’ 2040 comprehensive plan, which had been in effect for the past three years, has been ordered to come to a standstill by a Hennepin County court. Judge Joseph Klein, who was appointed by former Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2009, presiding over the case, has directed the city to revert to its 2030 Plan within a period of 60 days.

Why it matters: The 2040 Plan, lauded for its groundbreaking approach to ending single-family zoning and managing urban sprawl, has been controversial. Critics argue that 2040 may favor rental property developers over homeownership opportunities and exacerbate racial disparities, despite Minneapolis’ current Single Family Zoning designed for massive urban sprawl (which causes massive environmental damage than redeveloping existing urban areas)  and is explicitly designed to exacerbate racial inequality.

Details: Judge Klein, overseeing an environmental lawsuit challenging the city’s development-focused 2040 Plan since 2018, stated that the plaintiffs outlined numerous potential “environmental” harms that could result from full implementation of the 2040 Plan. Klein’s main reasoning for reversing to the 2030 Plan: “Increased population density is an affirmative feature of the residential portions of the 2040 Plan, a feature that has not been present in any previous comprehensive plan, including the 2030 Plan.” This comes into mind in other cases where the primary pollutant is people, not actual pollution.

What’s next: While Judge Klein ordered a return to the 2030 Plan, he left open the possibility for the city to conduct an environmental study that could bring the 2040 Plan into compliance with the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act.

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