In three community meetings held in late August and early September, the Minneapolis Planning Department presented proposed zoning changes entitled the Midtown Greenway Rezoning Study that would mostly raise the zoning levels for some 1600 parcels from France Avenue to the Mississippi River. They are mostly along the Midway Greenway and Lake Street, but also include Hennepin and Lyndale avenues from Franklin Avenue to 36th Street.
The proposed changes originally were to be presented to the Planning Commission on September 28. Instead, public hearings will be held Tuesday, October 13 for the rezoning area east of 35W, and on Monday, October 26 for France Avenue to 35W. Both meetings will be held at City Hall, Room 317 at 4:30 p.m. What the Planning Commission approves would eventually go to the City Council for final approval.
The rationale for the zoning changes is to promote growth in housing density and to have zoning match the City’s adopted future land use plans. These include six area plans such as the Uptown Small Area Plan adopted in February of 2008. The Planning Department also asserts that the City has a legal obligation to ensure that zoning reflects adopted land use goals.
In the ECCO neighborhood, the main change would be on Hennepin from 31st to 36th Streets. The houses on both side of Hennepin would generally be increased in zoning from R2B to R3. This changes the designation from low density to medium density and would allow developers to obtain conditional use permits for the building of apartment buildings.
The Uptown Small Area Plan (USAP) (page 62) recommends that “this portion of Hennepin Avenue remain a Community Corridor.” And, “recommends the future of this area be marked by incremental low-impact changes that maintain the residential buildings and support innovative adaptations to them such that they remain financially viable in the future.”
In the CARAG neighborhood, the main change would be the conversion from R2B to R3 of residences in the north half of the blocks from Lake Street to 31st Street. Also, the businesses on the west side of Lyndale from Lake to 31st Street would change from C2 (neighborhood corridor commercial district) to C3A (community activity center district). This change would allow more high-density residential use and entertainment uses.
The USAP (page 58) says that “The south edge of Lake Street should intensify with mixed-use development.” And, that “The CARAG neighborhood envisions the block between Lake and 31st Street as an appropriate plan for some new lifestyle (medium density, low maintenance, and compact) housing, particularly closer to Lake Street, with greater density than currently exists, and with a scale and form similar to existing houses.”
In the CIDNA area, from France to Thomas Avenues along Lake Street, 83 parcels would be rezoned, mostly from R1 (single family) to R5 (multiple family). In the East Isles neighborhood, significant changes would occur north of the Greenway to 28th Street and between Humboldt and Hennepin Avenues, mostly changing from R2B to R3.
Maps of the changes are available at the City of Minneapolis website. Look under Departments, then Community Planning and Economic Development, then Rezoning Studies, and then Midtown Greenway Rezoning Study. Click on the link entitled “recommendations.” There you can compare maps of the present zoning with maps of the proposed zoning.
Council Member Ralph Remington said that because of the quasi-judicial nature of the rezoning there isn’t much he could say about it, and cannot form an opinion until the proposal is directly before him. Meg Tuthill, a candidate for the 10th Ward Council seat that Remington is vacating, said she feels that such rezoning should be done by the next elected City Council. She feels that the present timeline is “way too fast” and that she does not want people saying they had no real opportunity for providing review and comment. At their September meeting the ECCO Board passed a resolution calling on the City to slow down the process, noting that such massive zoning changes should take “many months”.
Questions and comments can be addressed to Amanda Arnold of the Planning Department, at 612.673.3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Farland lives in ECCO and serves on the ECCO and Uptown Neighborhood News boards.