Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


The legal obstacles that have emerged in the path toward Minneapolis' preferred way of life for the year 2040 are frustrating but — of course — must play out.

The 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which significantly liberalized zoning restrictions, is the city's most recent, finalized in 2019. Minnesota law requires municipalities in the Twin Cities area to update such plans every 10 years. They're a framework under which development proceeds. Goals in Minneapolis included the promotion of affordable housing and climate resilience.

Environmental organizations sued, arguing that the cumulative effects of denser development endanger water and habitat in violation of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. Last week a judge agreed, ordering the city to revert to its 2030 Plan.

Separately, others have argued from the start that the 2040 Plan is more likely to benefit developers and wealthy residents than disadvantaged renters and homebuyers. And present under it all is the usual resistance to change in one's backyard.

The contradictions of ideology are on display. As one online commenter put it, "the liberals are suing the liberals to stop them from doing liberal things." Amusing, but tension among goals doesn't undermine their validity.

We on the Star Tribune Editorial Board supported the broad vision of the 2040 Plan before its passage. Nothing leads us to reconsider. Upscale development notwithstanding, it's the overall ratio of units to residents that determines affordability.

The city erred in its legal strategy by not directly responding to the concerns of the environmental groups, relying instead on the argument that environmental review is best handled at the individual project level. It might appeal the latest ruling. Maybe that works. The ultimate outcome, however, is likely a revised plan that further addresses concerns while preserving broad goals. We urge all sides to endeavor to reach that point as soon as possible.