Falcon Heights updates its comp plan

The city of Falcon Heights expects stable population and increased commercial development over the next 20 years, according to its 2040 Comprehensive Plan update recently submitted to the Metropolitan Council. 

City manager Sack Thongvanh said the “comp plan” revision proposes mixed-use residential and commercial development along Larpenteur Avenue between Snelling and Cleveland avenues. “We’re trying to create that corridor along Larpenteur,” he said.

Falcon Heights faces a special challenge among inner-ring suburbs because much of its land is owned by the University of Minnesota. Thongvanh said the University expects continued use of its trial fields for agricultural use, but that the city would develop around those. The State Fairgrounds also occupy a large portion of Falcon Heights.

Thongvanh said the comp plan recognizes the increasingly diverse ethnic demographics of the city, which due partly to a large Somali population in the Town Square apartment buildings. 

The comp plan update projects a stable population of about 5,300 residents with a “dramatic increase” in the number of residents 65 years and older, a trend in line with the rest of Minnesota. That said, the large number of University students living in Falcon Heights housing causes the city to trend slightly younger than the state. The University is also partly responsible for the greater number of languages spoken in the city’s households.

Meanwhile, Thongvanh said an important element in the updated comp plan was the use of “resilience planning.” 

A “Resilience Analysis,” conducted by The Great Plains Institute for Falcon Heights, appears in the comp plan appendix. It describes resilience planning as “a critical tool for communities to understand and prepare for climate-related changes that have local impacts.”  

Thongvanh said one goal of the the revised comp plan is for Falcon Heights to “save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and become more sustainable.” Some ways to accomplish that include   shifting to electric energy, including car charging stations, and increasing the participation of low- and moderate-income housing in energy efficiency programs.

Thongvanh said this year’s Comp plan revision is different from previous ones because it has greater public input. “One thing that took a lot of time and work was we tried to get more public engagement,” he said, noting that included council member Mark Miazga’s efforts in reaching out to people by email. 

The plan is available online at https://www.falconheights.org/index.asp?SEC=F4530412-2784-4FB2-A6D8-1958B8F37EEF&Type=B_BASIC

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