Judge Blocks Minneapolis 2040 Implementation, Citing Lack of Environmental Review

Environmentalists have used the power of the legal system to protect the car-centric status quo of single-family zoning once again, overturning a landmark planning innovation in Minneapolis.

2 minute read

June 21, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


jennyt / Shutterstock

Environmentalists have used the power of the legal system to protect the car-centric status quo of single-family zoning once again.

A Hennepin County judge halted implementation of the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan on June 15, according to an article published by Minnesota Public Radio.

The ruling by Judge Joseph Klein “made it clear the city had failed to address the environmental concerns raised by groups in court,” according to the article. “The city's expert, he wrote, failed to ‘specifically address, or purport to rebut to any degree of specificity, the many detailed assertions advanced by plaintiffs’ such as the effects of increased traffic and noise, loss of green space, effects on air and water quality, and stress on existing infrastructure,” according to the article.

The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan famously was the one of the first citywide plans to entirely prohibit single-family zoning—for largely environmental reasons due to the emissions and land consumption effects of sprawling development resulting from exclusionary zoning. Protecting single-family zoning under the cover of environmental concerns is a familiar narrative around the country. The same judge tossed an environmental lawsuit against the plan in 2040, clearing the way for final adoption.

One of the groups behind the lawsuit, Smart Growth Minneapolis, would seem to misapply the smart growth term as it is commonly used to advocate for planning reforms that promote urban infill and mixed use density to enable fewer vehicle trips and alternative modes of transportation.

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