Located 30 miles west of Minneapolis, Carver County is home to 70,000 residents and includes 11 cities and 11 townships. The western portion of Carver County is a rural area with small community farms, while the eastern side has more industry, larger communities, and a younger population. Carver County used funds from an Active Community Planning grant to update its GIS data on park and trail access, incorporate health and active-living principles into its 2030 Comprehensive Plan, and to hold educational sessions for local municipalities on integrating health and planning. Planners from the Division of Public Health partnered with the Division of Land & Water Services to lead this process. Public Health staff assisted with the County’s comprehensive planning process by incorporating a public-health element into the plan. Staff from the division of land and water services used the public-health element as a framework to incorporate health throughout the other Comprehensive Plan elements.
On October 3, 2007, Carver County brought together local community leaders and staff to learn new strategies for incorporating active-living principles into comprehensive plans, zoning decisions, land-use policies, and facility improvements. They heard presentations from state and national experts about integrating smart growth and active-living principles into city and regional plans. In 2008, staff completed additional training in health impact assessment from the Design for Health team.
To increase community awareness of active-living and to promote walking, staff from the Division of Public Health is offering assistance in conducting Walkable Community Workshops to all cities in Carver. The workshops are designed for local elected officials, public administrators, health officials, transportation planners, and other local stakeholders. During the workshops, participants identify opportunities to reduce barriers and enhance opportunities for walking in their community and build consensus on how to improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Carver County modified the Design for Health HIA Preliminary Checklist to use in conjunction with the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) process for a larger development proposal. Due to the massive growth in the county, it is considering making HIAs a requirement in the EAW process. In the future it plans to continue using the preliminary checklist in combination with the EAW process and a modified version of the HIA Rapid Assessment tool for more contentious development proposals.
In addition to the outcomes described above, the County’s participation in the Active Community Planning program has added new expertise in the Division of Public Health about the comprehensive planning process, connections between health and the built environment, added legitimacy to the topic of health and planning and helped to build relationships between departments within the County and between local communities.
Final Plan: Coming soon: updates on the 2030 plan can be found here.