The Minnesota Department of Health conducted an HIA of the potential health effects of the small area plan for the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Duluth. The HIA analyzed how the plan could affect community health and offered recommendations to maximize potential benefits and reduce negative impacts, with a focus on four topics: land use and zoning, housing, transportation, and economic development.
The HIA determined that the plan’s rezoning recommendations could improve access to healthy foods, spur modest housing development, and promote social cohesion through business development, and the housing recommendations would probably boost housing quality, increase rates of homeownership, and support social cohesion through enhancements to the physical environment. The HIA also found that brownfield cleanup and redevelopment resources could encourage local business creation or expansion and reduce crime, contributing to social cohesion. The HIA team was unable to draw conclusions about the possible health impact of the plan’s transportation recommendations.
The HIA offered several recommendations to maximize potential benefits and reduce negative impacts related to the plan. Regarding zoning, the HIA suggested that new regulations allowing food trucks could expand access to healthy food in neighborhoods that lack grocery stores; others designed to encourage construction of second-floor apartments, demolition of condemned and blighted properties, and creation of a Lincoln Park Housing Revitalization Area could help meet housing demands and improve neighborhood conditions. Recommendations to spur economic development include redeveloping brownfields, promoting adaptive reuse of existing multistory buildings, and revitalizing the area’s retail core. Transportation recommendations include improving sidewalks, creating dedicated bicycle lanes, and installing bus shelters.
Geographic information systems data, existing local studies, and input from the community and subject matter experts informed the HIA’s findings and recommendations.
This HIA was part of a Health Impact Project program grant. The Minnesota Department of Health established a state-level interagency work group and a coalition of local agency and nonprofit partners to support HIA training and technical assistance as part of the grant work. The department also created tools and developed state-level policies to help make HIA a routine part of decision-making.
The department previously conducted the following HIAs: Gary/New Duluth Small Area Plan, 6th Avenue East Duluth, Divine Mercy Development,Douglas County Comprehensive Plan, and St. Louis Park Comprehensive Plan.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.