Rezoning Minneapolis

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Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been asking for feedback about the Midtown Rezoning Study, which was written by city planners recommending rezoning property near the Midtown Greenway. The city Web site states that planners had a legal obligation to create a plan that would incorporate the land use goals adopted by the different neighborhoods from France Avenue to the river. Specifically, the rezoning study is based on the Lyn-Lake Small Area Plan, the Uptown Small Area Plan, the Midtown Greenway Land Use and Development Plan, the Seward Longfellow Area  Land and Predevelopment Study, the Industrial Land Use and Employment Policy Plan, and the Midtown Minneapolis Land Use and Development Plan

Two public hearings have been scheduled for the Midtown Greenway Rezoning Study. The public hearings on the Midtown Greenway Rezoning study are:
Neighborhoods East of 35W October 13, 2009, 4:30 pm Room 317, City Hall.
Neighborhoods West of 35W October 26, 2009, 4:30 pm Room 317, City Hall.

A lot of people wrote in to add feedback on this issue, but perhaps the most vocal group has been neighbors from Central neighborhood, who feel that their neighborhood has not been represented in the land use plans.

Indeed, city planner Amanda Arnold said that Central Neighborhood is the only neighborhood in the city that was not involved in the process of creating the land use plan for its neighborhood.  Arnold said she didn’t know why Central wasn’t involved in the planning process. 

Guide to terms and maps

Zoning issues are complex, and unless you live in the neighborhood, it may be hard to visualize what areas are affected. Here’s a short glossary and links to maps.

Upzoning  From the Chicago Tribune:  When a property’s zoning designation changes to allow for a larger, taller structure

Zoning District Descriptions

R1 and R1A Single Family Districts  The R1 and R1A districts allow for single-family dwellings as well as some institutional and public uses. Most development occurs at no more than 2.5 stories.

R2 and R2B Two-Family District The R2 and R2B zoning districts allow for single- and two-family dwellings as well as some institutional and public uses. Most development occurs at no more than 2.5 stories.

R3 Multiple-Family District The R3 district is a medium density district, and allows for a mix of single-family, two-family, and multiple-family dwellings. Most development occurs at no more than 2.5 stories.

Neighborhood Character Area A concept developed for the Uptown Small Area Plan:  residential, mostly single-family duplex, triplex and small apartments, that are well established and maintained.

Small Area Plan The purpose of a Small Area Plan is to outline a vision for the future of an area, such as Uptown, or Lyn-Lake, or Midtown Greenway, etc, and to provide land use policy guidance.

Maps Here’s the link to all the land use maps.

A number of residents from Central Neighborhood said that they felt that it was unfair that the Uptown Small Area Plan has included  “neighborhood character areas” that protect certain blocks from upzoning.  Arnold said that consultants who worked on the Uptown area plan came up with the idea for those areas.  She said consultants were hired for both the Uptown Area Small Area Plan and the Midtown Greenway Land Use and Development Plan, but for some reason the latter didn’t come up with the idea of neighborhood character areas. 

That, essentially, is the problem, according to Brian Finstad, from Central Neighborhood.  Why was so much care taken with the Uptown Small Area Plan and none with other neighborhoods such as Central and Phillips? 

“The rezoning is not strategic, but rather a blanket approach — basically upzoning just about anything,” Finstad wrote in.  “What would upzoning in a blanket approach at this current time do? It would provide incentive to carve houses up into multiple units or incentivize historic homes becoming ‘tear downs’ for low quality multiple unit buildings. It would degrade the historic and residential character of those blocks – not to mention the livability.”

“It’s obvious they took a lot of care in Uptown and they didn’t do the same thing at us,” said Carol Pass, from East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC). “There’s no indication that they looked at the area at all… We have neighborhood character areas too.”

Councilmembers Elizabeth Glidden and Gary Schiff expressed concerned with broad upzoning of R2 and R2b buildings into R3 buildings, or multi-unit buildings.  “It’s not quality,” said Schiff.  “We don’t want landlords of duplexes to be putting in basements and attics, sucking more money out of buildings without adding to the quality.” 

“How does R3 help or hurt  with what might help or hurt a neighborhood?” asked Glidden.  “My feeling is that a more individual approach to zoning is what should happen.”

Arnold said that in response to concerns about landlords taking advantage of tenants by upzoning from R2 to R3, “Building code has changed in last couple of years.  It’s not as much of a problem as it was in the past.”