The Atlantic takes on Minneapolis 2040

Minneapolis skyline at night

(Photo by Matt Holland for FMR)

Because of our advocacy for climate-smart dense urban development, national magazine The Atlantic reached out to FMR Land Use & Planning Director Colleen O'Connor Toberman to get our perspective on Minneapolis 2040.

In the resulting article, "The Culture War Tearing American Environmentalism Apart," Jerusalem Demsas explores the legal battle over Minneapolis' 2040 comprehensive plan. A small group of community members has spent more than five years fighting the plan in court on the incorrect premise that increasing housing density in the city will be environmentally destructive.

This legal battle, which is based on unsound facts, has delayed implementation of strategies vital to fighting climate change. As the article notes, "The problem with an environmentalism that venerates just one more study is that it struggles to make decisions in the face of uncertainty and often refuses to see the high cost of inaction and delay."

In cases like this, we sometimes see environmentalism used as a cover for community opposition that's actually based on residents' opposition to (inevitable and necessary) change in their neighborhoods, not on sound science.

We're excited to see this national recognition of FMR's advocacy on a principle we hold dear: that dense urban development is good for the environment. We care deeply about where and how we build along the metro Mississippi — but we don't believe in blocking all new development.

One way the conflict over density affects FMR's work is in our efforts to preserve valuable habitat areas, often at the fringes of the Twin Cities metro. When these rare places, such as Mississippi Dunes, are subject to housing development pressure, it's much harder for us to ensure their permanent protection as open space. Denser development in the city core can open up more opportunities for critical habitat conservation in the metro region.

To read more about FMR's position, check out some of our past articles on urban development:

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