Friday, 16 November, 2018


The City of Grand Rapids would like to know - how should our community change over the next 20 years?  Is the City on the right track regarding what areas should be developed, which should be less developed or protected?  How should businesses, homes, lakes, rivers and roads relate to each other?  What are the long-term priorities for economic development and public investment?  City residents will soon be asked these questions and more as the City of Grand Rapids begins to update its Comprehensive Plan.

What is a Comprehensive Plan?
Minnesota law enables cities to adopt a “comprehensive” plan to guide economic development, transportation, and land use actions.  The comprehensive plan is a policy document rather than an ordinance or law, but provides the legal foundation for the city’s ordinances, programs, and capital investment plans.     
A Comprehensive Plan identifies a community’s desired future, looking out 20 years, or in this case, the Grand Rapids of 2040.  The desired future is described with a future land use map and supporting written goals and policies.  Plans typically have three important parts –background information to define the “what is,” maps and goals to define the “desired future condition,” and a set of implementation actions to bridge between the “what is” and the “desired future.”

The Existing Comprehensive Plan

In July of 2011, the City of Grand Rapids adopted an updated Comprehensive Plan, after a yearlong process of background studies, engaging residents and businesses, and detailed discussion.  Since adoption, many 2011 Plan goals have been achieved, including public investment in new street connections, new economic development projects and initiatives, and additional planning efforts such as the Arts and Culture Roadmap and an updated Parks and Trails Master Plan.  
Changing situations, however, diminish the importance of some Plan goals, and new challenges and opportunities, not envisioned during the creation of the 2011 Plan, are arising.  Has there been a change in the community’s vision of an ideal future or the core community values that drive that vision. Should the current and desired future socioeconomic environment change the City’s long-term priorities?  What actions should be taken to achieve the vision and is the City situated to sustain its resources - community, economy, and natural – over the long term?

What happens, and how can I be involved?
The Comprehensive Plan update will take place over the next 9-10 months.  The City will hold two public meetings, to present draft maps, policies and other work for public input, as well as a final comment meeting.  In addition to public meetings, the City intends to conduct a public survey, and conduct a series of community engagement discussions to get detailed input on issue identification and community vision, values, and redevelopment/growth area preferences.

The City Council also endorsed a plan to create a Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee to serve as advisors to the Planning Commission and the City Council and to be the decision-making body for creating a draft Plan.
The structure of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee is intended to ensure a wide representation of interests.  The Council is currently seeking volunteers for the Steering Committee, to be appointed to represent the following interests:

•    Business- Manufacturing Representative (1)
•    Business- Downtown Retail/Service Representative (1)
•    Business- Non-downtown Retail/Service Representative (1)
•    Builder/Developer Representative (1)
•    Tourism/Hospitality Industry Representative (1)
•    Social Services Representative (1)
•    Housing Representative (1)
•    Health Care Industry Representative (1)
•    Education Representative (1)
•    Residential Representatives (4- residents/one from each quadrant of town)

In addition to these volunteer appointments, the Steering Committee will have two representatives from the Planning Commission and two City Council representatives. The Grand Rapids EDA will provide oversite and guidance in the development of the economic development element of the plan.

For more information on the project, contact Rob Mattei, Director of Community Development, City of Grand Rapids, 218-326-7601.  To obtain an application for the Steering Committee, please contact the City Administration Office at 218-326-7600, stop into their office on the main floor of City Hall, at 420 N. Pokegama Ave., Grand Rapids, MN, or at this link: Steering Committee Application