Population: 4,725,419
Counties: 87
Governor Jesse Ventura

Key Laws/State Agencies/Reports

Click here for the amount of protected land in Minnesota, and click here to review Minnesota's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

Recent Reports:
A Study of the Relationship Between Affordable Family Rental Housing and Home Values in the Twin Cities, (Family Housing Fund-Minneapolis, MN September 2000.)

Current Statewide Campaigns:
Housing Minnesota 
Housing Minnesota is a growing collaboration of organizations working to create more affordable housing in Minnesota.  Minnesota is in the midst of a serious affordable housing crisis with more than 40 percent of Minnesota renters not making enough money to afford an average two-bedroom apartment.  These renters pay more than a third of their gross household income for rent, and often must go without food and medical care to keep their homes.  Almost half of the jobs created in Greater Minnesota pay only enough to affordably rent a one-bedroom apartment.  Because of exclusionary zoning, these apartments do not exist in many communities throughout the state. The campaign was designed both to raise awareness of who needs affordable housing and to promote involvement in affordable housing efforts.
Contact Information:
Housing Minnesota
1821 University Avenue West
Suite S-137
St. Paul, MN  55104
(888) 265-2002 
(651) 649-1704

Key Laws:
For a summary of Minnesota's planning and zoning statutes, see the excellent report provided by the American Planning Association.

Community-Based Planning Act (1997) Minn. statute (462.3535)
The Community-Based Planning Act builds on the state’s planning
statutes and sustainable development initiative. It sets 11 goals for
community-based planning, creates an advisory council to refine program details, funds pilot projects and provides technology and planning grants.  The 11 goals are as followed:

  • Citizen participation:  To develop a community-based planning process with broad citizen participation in order to build local capacity to plan for sustainable development and to benefit from the insights, knowledge, and support of local residents. The process must include at least one citizen from each affected unit of local government;
  • Cooperation:  To promote cooperation among communities to work towards the most efficient, planned, and cost-effective delivery of government services by, among other means, facilitating cooperative agreements among adjacent communities and to coordinate planning to ensure compatibility of one community’s development with development of neighboring communities;
  • Economic Development:  To create sustainable economic development strategies and provide economic opportunities throughout the state that will achieve a balanced distribution of growth statewide;
  • Conservation:  To protect, preserve, and enhance the state’s resources, including agricultural land, forests, surface water and groundwater, recreation and open space, scenic areas, and significant historic and archaeological sites;
  • Livable community design:  To strengthen communities by following the principles of livable community design in development and redevelopment, including integration of all income and age groups, mixed land uses and compact development, affordable and life-cycle housing, green spaces, access to public transit, bicycle and pedestrian ways, and enhanced aesthetics and beauty in public spaces;
  • Housing:  To provide and preserve an adequate supply of affordable and life-cycle housing throughout the state;
  • Transportation:  To focus on the movement of people and goods, rather than on the movement of automobiles, in transportation planning, and to maximize the efficient use of the transportation infrastructure by increasing the availability and use of appropriate public transit throughout the state through land-use planning and design that makes public transit economically viable and desirable;
  • Land-use planning:  To establish a community-based framework as a basis for all decisions and actions related to land use;
  • Public investments:  To account for the full environmental, social, and economic costs of new development, including infrastructure costs such as transportation, sewers and wastewater treatment, water, schools, recreation, and open space, and plan the funding mechanisms necessary to cover the costs of the infrastructure;
  • Public education:  To support research and public education on a community’s and the state’s finite capacity to accommodate growth, and the need for planning and resource management that will sustain growth;
  • Sustainable development:  To provide a better quality of life for all residents while maintaining nature’s ability to function over time by minimizing waste, preventing pollution, promoting efficiency, and developing local resources to revitalize the local economy.
For more information:http://www.mnplan.state.mn.us/press/cbpact.html

H.F. 1184:  Historic Preservation Tax Credit (1998)
This bill authorizes a new type of tax increment financing (TIF) subdistrict, heritage and historic preservation subdistricts. These subdistricts may be created in areas that have certain types of formal historic designation under other laws. The original net tax capacity is reduced by the estimated cost of rehabilitation. Increments from these subdistricts may be used to pay for hazardous waste clean-up, blight correction, or rehabilitation of historic structures.

The following site provides information on 19 different Minnesota programs dealing with Brownfields cleanup:  http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/brownfld.pdf

State Agencies:
Sustainable Communities Team
This team promotes sustainable development at the community level through phone assistance and referrals, mailed information, financial assistance, the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network and close work with individual communities. Staff expertise encompasses industrial pollution prevention, solid waste reduction, grass-roots organizing, local economic development, city and county planning, higher education and environmental education. Other areas include reuse, recycling, waste management, energy and water efficiency, advanced wastewater options, sustainable agriculture, resource efficient building and alternatives to urban sprawl. 

Minnesota Planning
Minnesota Planning is charged with developing a long-range plan for the
state, stimulating public participation in Minnesota’s future and coordinating public policy with state agencies, the Legislature and other units of government. http://www.mnplan.state.mn.us/

Agricultural Development and Land Use Technical Assistance Program
This program provides information and technical assistance regarding agricultural land preservation and the land use issues of animal agriculture. Minnesota's agricultural land preservation programs seek to minimize conversion of productive farmland to nonfarm land uses (residential, commercial or industrial development, or public uses such as roads and airports) through sound land use planning and regulation, and policies that encourage farmers to remain on the land. 

Regional Development Commissions 
These provide a wide range of services to local governments and
residents, including comprehensive planning, citizen involvement initiatives, and intergovernmental facilitation. Funding for projects is provided through grants and a small property tax levy.  Commissions are composed of local elected officials and citizen members. Contact the regional  development commission in your area for more information.

For a review of reports published by Minnesota Planning which deal with growth, sustainable development, and related topics, pleases go to 

"Minnesota by Design" by Minnesota Planning provides thought-provoking statistics and interesting photos of sprawl and smart growth in Minnesota. 

American Farmland Trust
Upper Midwest Field Representative
135 Enterprise Drive
Suite AFT
Verona, Wisconsin 53593
Tel: 608-848-7000

1000 Friends of Minnesota
370 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55102
Tel: 651-312-1000

The Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN)
GLIN is a partnership that provides one place online for people to find
information relating to the binational Great Lakes region of North America. Thanks to its strong network of state, provincial, federal and regional partner agencies and organizations, GLIN has become a necessary component of  informed decision making, and a trusted and reliable source information for those who live, work or have an interest in the Great Lakes region.  Respected across the Great Lakes region and around the world, GLIN offers a wealth of data and information about the region’s environment and economy, tourism, education and more. 

Northeast-Midwest Institute
The Northeast-Midwest Institute is a Washington-based, private, non-profit, and non-partisan research organization dedicated to economic vitality, environmental quality, and regional equity for Northeast and Midwest states. Formed in the mid-1970's, it fulfills its mission by conducting research and analysis, developing and advancing innovative policy, providing evaluation of key federal programs, disseminating information, and highlighting sound economic and environmental technologies and practices.


1 Among the planning and development goals outlined are:
The development of coordinated sustainable economic strategies
The protection of natural resources
The creation of liveable neighborhoods
The development of a more coordinated and efficient housing, transportation and public education systems