Bloomington Planning for 2040 in Progress

Zavier Bicott, SD50 Republican Co-Chair and volunteer Bloomington Human Rights Commissioner, is one of 14 people on the Forward 2040 Advisory Committee and provided us this first-hand glimpse of their early work.

Our first meeting was back on Wednesday November 2, 2016.  The appointment process includes 14 people appointed by the Bloomington City Council to serve 12-14 months.  7 came from city commissions and 7 others are Bloomington Residents that applied and were accepted.  I myself was approved to serve from my fellow human rights commissioners with our Human Rights Commission Chairman serving as my alternate if I am unable to attend a meeting.

I am looking forward to our third meeting January 18th.  It will be more of a discussion with a facilitator.  All meetings are public so I encourage you to attend or keep reading my reviews in the SD49 newsletter.

Basic Background

Forward 2040 is the City of Bloomington's latest process for updating its comprehensive plan. A comprehensive plan sets the 20-year vision through a set of goals and policies that guide future land uses and investments in City services such as parks, community facilities, transportation and sewer and water systems. 

The Metropolitan Council sets the basic requirements for what must be included in comprehensive plans.  As in previous years, Bloomington’s comprehensive plan update must address seven Plan Elements: land use, transportation water resources, parks, housing, and implementation.  For this round of updates the Metropolitan Council is recommending, but not requiring, cities to also address economic competiveness and resiliency and sustainability.

Comprehensive plans must be consistent with Thrive MSP 2040 the Metropolitan Council’s vision to guide development in the region over the next 30 years.  Comprehensive plans must also align with the Metropolitan Council’s regional system and policy plans. The system plans outline regional policy regarding: transportation, water resources, parks and open space, and housing. The system plans are updated by the Met Council after each decennial census to address projected growth in population, households, and jobs in the metro area.

My Take

Our first meeting, on November 2,  was introductory and informational.  We have a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and interest in serving the committee. 

We drank from a firehose our first meeting.  We learned about the role of the committee, what Thrive MSP 2040 is and how the Met Council directs cities, transportation systems of Bloomington, Regional Parks Systems in Bloomington, the recent resident survey studies and the 2017-2020 Bloomington Strategic Plan.  All this information including slides and handouts are available at the website under advisory committee packet

Most importantly the document that reads “Advisory Committee Recap” which is the staff notes and meeting minutes.

At the end of the first meeting, what I did find rather interesting was that we were given an opportunity by staff to determine how decisions would be made coming out of our committee.  Were things to be voted on by majority, a super majority or did things have to be a consensus.  To my surprise no one took charge, or strongly supported one way or another.  We all looked at each other and in a non-verbal communication style all tabled the decision to decide that on the first night.   Staff didn’t seem to mind, one could tell we were not sure what decisions we would be making yet and we were all willing to wait and exert whatever power our committee may have once we had more understanding of what was to come.

Our second meeting was another drink from the firehose.  This time learning more about the demographics of Bloomington from years past census data to current census data and trends moving forward to 2040.  This took up most of the meeting.  My biggest concern out of this meeting was that the trending data from the city and the trending data from county was off by about 5% on some trends.  City Staff was working with county staff on finding where those discrepancies are and why. 

As mentioned above, I am looking forward to our third meeting January 18th.  It will be more of a discussion with a facilitator.  We will know more 1 week ahead of time as the packet will be posted online.  All meetings are public so I encourage you to attend or keep reading my reviews in the SD49 newsletter.