City Planning Commission approves most of Midtown Greenway Rezoning

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On Monday, December 14 the Minneapolis City Planning Commission approved the rezoning of some 1,292 parcels of property ranging from France Avenue to the Mississippi River along Lake Street and the Midtown Greenway, as well as on Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues from Franklin to 36th Street.  Termed the Midtown Greenway Rezoning Study, originally 1,766 properties were proposed by the Minneapolis Planning Department to be rezoned, but the Commission did not concur with 474 of the changes.  The Commission recommendations now go to the Zoning and Planning Committee of the City Council on January 21, but it is not known if the newly elected Council will be ready to take on this large issue.

This information has not been reported by the StarTribune to date. Aside from neighborhood newspapers like this one, only the Southwest Journal has had any reporting.

Residents in the 3000 block of Emerson were disappointed to learn that a number of residential properties are still to be rezoned from R2B (strictly residential) to R3 which can be upgraded to apartment housing.  Several residents thought they had this change reversed, as did happen with other neighborhoods, but the rezoning was not amended out in the Commission hearing.  The residents are intent on reversing the rezoning at the Council level.  Two properties in the 3000 block of Fremont did have their rezoning reversed which was to upgrade from R3 to R4.  R4 would have allowed group facilities with parking lots and less lot size per apartment unit.

The Commission recommendations to the Council still contain considerable changes to the zoning on Hennepin Avenue from 31st to 36th Streets.  In ECCO on the west side of Hennepin, the housing from 32nd to 33rd Streets would be changed from R2B to OR1 (Neighborhood Office Residence Zoning).  OR1 would allow the building of up to four unit apartment and office buildings, and more units with a conditional use permit.  Then south of 32nd Street the R2B would be changed from R2B to R3.  At the south end by 36th Street there is downgrading from R4 and R5 to R3. R4 and R5 zonings permit large scale apartment houses.

With CARAG on the east side of Hennepin there are similar changes.  From 32nd Street to 36th Street the change is mostly from R2B to R3, with a lesser number of properties changing from R5 to R3.  Down by 36th Street zoning would change from OR1 and R4 to R3.  Also in CARAG, from Fremont to Aldrich Avenues the north half of the 3000 blocks just south of Lake Street would change from R2B to R3. 

The most significant change done by the Planning Commission to the Planning Department recommendations is that all properties located in the Central, Powderhorn Park, Midtown Phillips and East Phillips neighborhoods that were slated to change from R2B to R3 instead retain their R2B zoning.  This was due to considerable complaint from those neighborhoods that their efforts toward residential improvement were being thwarted by this proposed change.  Also, at the northwest corner of Lake Calhoun a large stretch of townhouses near Dean Parkway was proposed to change from R1 to R5, but this was denied.

A report on the Planning Commission’s actions, as well as all the background information including the Planning Department report and maps of the rezonings, are available at the City website, although it takes a real policy wonk to find it.  First, go to the City website with a search engine or at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us.  Then in sequence click on (1) City Departments (2) CPED (3) Agendas & Schedules (4) Advisory Boards and Commissions (5) Scroll down to Planning Commission and click Schedule and Agendas (6) Under Actions, click Dec. 14, 2009 (7) Scroll down to Item 13.  Maps of the changes prior to the amendments by the Commission are located at the end of the report at the link “Proposed Zoning Ordinances and Zoning Maps”.   

Gary Farland lives in ECCO and is a member of the ECCO Neighborhood Board.