Greenfield: what’s in a comp plan?

Early community survey and workshop draw varying visions

What is in Greenfield’s future? Residents were put to the task of shaping a future Greenfield this spring through a community survey and workshop.

The feedback is much-needed as direction for the city’s new comprehensive plan. City Planner Brad Scheib talked through the results of the outreach at the Aug. 15 city council meeting.

RESULTS

Scheib estimated there were between 100 and 120 participants, 30 of which came to the community workshop and 94 that took an online survey through SurveyMonkey. Scheib, of Hoisington Koegler Group, described the turnout as “average,” seeing a similar turnout in similar communities.

Scheib reminded the council that the planning commission was not seeking any sort of consensus from residents.

Responses ranged from enthusiasm for progressive changes in the city to distaste of any future development.

Of the survey data, the most popular demographics were those aged 40-49 and 50-59. All survey takers owned land; none rented. Nearly 50% of survey takers said they lived in a 2-person household; about 25% said 4-person. The majority of survey participants had lived in Greenfield for less than 5 years (about 35%), and just behind were those who had lived there for 10-20 years (about 30%).

RESIDING OPINIONS

Of the responses on the survey, the question “How relevant is ‘Remain a rural agriculture community’ to Greenfield’s future?” garnered the most additional comments. On a scale of 0-5, “0” being least relevant and “5” being most, survey takers responses averaged 3.5.

Many were protective of the small town charm Greenfield has held on to over the years. Comments from this perspective read “This to me is one of the big appeals of Greenfield and should not change,” “must not have high density housing,” and “let’s not run the farms out of here. That’s what makes it a peaceful place to live rather than people all over.”

Another commentator said, “The community was founded on agriculture. I bought my property fully knowing I would live 20 minutes from a grocery store and drive on a dirt road. If I wanted paved streets and walking distance to retail I could have chosen to, and even paid less for, housing in a developed suburb nearby.”

Others were hesitant to fully back a future rural, agricultural Greenfield. “The rural community is important but cannot hamper growth,” one said.

Others: “Land value and location do not make Greenfield a suitable farming community long term,” “I’m not sure what agricultural values are aside from ‘this is how we’ve always done it,’ ‘don’t impose restrictions on me,’ etc.”

A few even appealed to growth and business as a means to provide relief to the tax base. “Need to move forward from primarily agriculture if we want to attract young families and businesses so those who live here can have affordability,” read another response. “Young families are moving to St. Michael and Albertville – Why not Greenfield?”

Planner Scheib acknowledged the diverse opinions: “There are a number of conflicting opinions on things. Diverging opinions on things. That’s going to be the challenge as we work through this. Some people say we want farm, rural, some people say we’re past that. Some people say we want more business, some people say I moved here not to have that, I’m fine with driving to the Twin Cities.”

Word maps were generated from the Greenfield community survey results. A contradiction is apparent when one compares the Greenfield’s “greatest assets” words map…
….to its “needed changes” word map.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED

From the results, six topics were chosen as “guiding principles” for a future plan:

1. Preservation of open space. This includes what is regulated, farm fields, voluntary conservation easements, and parks.

2. Preservation of rural character. The work group teased this out from community conversations about open space, preserved view sheds, cottage industries/home-based businesses, and road character and design.

3. Accessibility/Connectedness. This refers to roads, proximity to the metro area, trails, and internet.

4. Supportive business development. Issues surrounding this topic include commercial businesses for residents’ convenience, retail/restaurants, and a balanced tax base to support community investments in infrastructure.

5. Efficient/Sustainable economic environment. This includes reasonable taxes and “forward-thinking” planning when it comes to budget.

6. Community identity. This encompasses many relationship aspects of the community, including welcoming businesses, using open spaces/parks, opening the possibility of a town center, appreciating city history, and balancing residential growth with rural character.

The community feedback has been published to the Greenfield 2040 Comprehensive Plan website: http://www.hkgi.com/projects/GreenfieldCompPlan.

Moving forward, an info session will be held in October before a public workshop in later October/early November. The plan will be worked on in December and reviews will begin Jan. 1.