Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Parks, Minneapolis Public Schools, Density, Zoning, etc.
degersblogg
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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby degersblogg » November 18th, 2013, 7:17 pm

The agenda is not online yet, but the Linden Hills Small Area Plan is scheduled to come before the PC for their meeting of December 2nd. The LHSAP has been discussed at Committee of the Whole twice now and based off of comments from several commissioners, they are no where near satisfied with the plan. Should be a very interesting meeting.

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby FISHMANPET » November 18th, 2013, 8:14 pm

twincitizen wrote:What exactly was that topic about (if you don't mind summarizing)? I watched a little bit of that meeting too, but couldn't ascertain exactly what they were proposing to do. Something about rehabilitating an old mansion?
Turning a pair of mansions behind The Chateau into apartments. I think specifically it was about the number of parking spaces, though I wasn't paying that close of attention either.

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby Viktor Vaughn » November 18th, 2013, 10:43 pm

The developer wanted to turn the yard between the mansion and triplex into a parking lot for 7 cars. This plan required a new curb cut on 5th St and cutting down mature trees. The neighborhood association thought there shouldn't be any more than three parking spaces. In the end they voted to allow the seven spaces and curb cut, but added a vague requirement to screen the parking from the street with additional landscaping.

I've never watched one of the meetings before, but ended up staying up until 2:30am on Friday watching this one. It wasn't even close to over when I finally went to bed.

I do wonder, what is the role of the staff who presents the project? The first item the meeting addressed was a triplex in the wedge in an area zoned for no more than a duplex. The property had been a triplex for decades, the owner had a rental license for a triplex, and paid taxes as a triplex. The staff member who presented it was deadset against changing the zoning to make it a legal triplex. She only presented one side of the story in a transparent attempt to sway the commission. I was wondering how the vote would go until Schiff gave a compelling speech about how "there are few people Minneapolis tortures more than duplex owners." The rest of the commissioners agreed and went against staff's recommendation.

The staff member who presented the parking/curb cut plan by The Chateau came across as an unabashed advocate for the applicant.

The staff member who presented the Ryan project came across as much more neutral. She sounded like she was trying to facilitate the project yet promote conditions for the good of the public.

Can anyone shed any light on the proper role of the staff in these projects?

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby FISHMANPET » November 19th, 2013, 12:37 am

The staff is there to make a recommendation based on the existing code, so they're always going to present a one sided view, because they're trying to "win." The commission has to then apply common sense and judgment.

Or at least that's my interpretation.

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby woofner » November 19th, 2013, 2:41 pm

Is it too late to vote for Schiff for mayor?

CPED has a bug up their butt about changing existing zoning to legalize a nonconforming semi-detached unit. They think it will encourage people to just carve out units from single-family home where ever and when ever they want - the horror! These come before the PC once a month or two, typically they're denied. This guy must have connections or something.

Personally I don't think there is any way to be neutral as a staff member for CPED. You have to interpret the law and the plan and make a recommendation, then defend that recommendation. Like any kind of literature, law and planning is open to multiple interpretations, and there are often good reasons for more than one. But a planning department has to make a decision, so there is no reason to fault them for defending it.
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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby MNdible » November 19th, 2013, 4:09 pm

I'm generally in agreement that this triplex won't hurt anybody, and assuming that it's a long term grandfathered use, I guess I don't see any issue with it.

However, this does tend to encourage the "better to ask for forgiveness than permission" mentality, which ends up being a little too wild west for my taste. Mr. Sabri, for example, operates on this principal almost exclusively. This mentality also tends to lead to some major life-safety concerns that unfortunately don't usually get caught until somebody gets hurt.

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby FISHMANPET » November 19th, 2013, 4:20 pm

In this case the triplex met all code requirements for a triplex, other than zoning and a small variance for lot area. I think it was also inspected and approved as a triplex, so there weren't any safety issues there.

I don't think zoning has much to do with building safety, so a granting a zoning variance doesn't mean the building has to be unsafe. If we're letting unsafe buildings pass inspection we need to improve inspections, and that doesn't have anything to do with zoning.

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby twincitizen » November 19th, 2013, 4:31 pm

What Woofner said. Staff has to interpret the code as literally as possible and make a recommendation. Staff does not have authority to unilaterally grant variances or make zoning changes...their job is to interpret code verbatim. The role of Planning Commission and City Council is to take a more nuanced view and look at all angles besides just the City Code as written.

I will note that a similar battle (but slightly different historical background and approval process) just took place for 2924 Grand Avenue. There was a non-conforming triplex that had been a triplex forever. In fact, the zoning of the parcel was once R3, but downzoned to R2B at some point. The triplex had been marketed and sold as a triplex not that long ago. Hennepin County tax records call it a triplex. Nonetheless it is zoned R2B and the city has no evidence that it was ever legally approved to be a triplex, only a two-unit. The applicant was seeking a certificate of non-conforming use to operate the triplex. Staff recommended denial. The Zoning Board of Adjustment decides such matters, rather than the Planning Commission. ZBA denied the request, so the applicant appealed. Schiff was not present at the Z&P Committee meeting and Meg Tuthill successfully blocked the certificate of non-conforming use without batting an eye. I think Cam Gordon was the only one to vote in favor. Reich and Goodman also went against. Perhaps the owner will come back with a request to rezone the property to R3, seeing as how it was just successfully done on Aldrich.

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby MNdible » November 19th, 2013, 4:36 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:I don't think zoning has much to do with building safety, so a granting a zoning variance doesn't mean the building has to be unsafe. If we're letting unsafe buildings pass inspection we need to improve inspections, and that doesn't have anything to do with zoning.
Well, if you're going to expand a duplex into a triplex and trying to avoid rezoning, you may not draw attention to yourself by pulling a building permit. Believe it or not, there are still a lot of illegal units in the city.

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Re: MPLS Planning Commission meetings

Postby degersblogg » November 19th, 2013, 5:13 pm

twincitizen wrote:What Woofner said. Staff has to interpret the code as literally as possible and make a recommendation. Staff does not have authority to unilaterally grant variances or make zoning changes...their job is to interpret code verbatim. The role of Planning Commission and City Council is to take a more nuanced view and look at all angles besides just the City Code as written.

I will note that a similar battle (but slightly different historical background and approval process) just took place for 2924 Grand Avenue. There was a non-conforming triplex that had been a triplex forever. In fact, the zoning of the parcel was once R3, but downzoned to R2B at some point. The triplex had been marketed and sold as a triplex not that long ago. Hennepin County tax records call it a triplex. Nonetheless it is zoned R2B and the city has no evidence that it was ever legally approved to be a triplex, only a two-unit. The applicant was seeking a certificate of non-conforming use to operate the triplex. Staff recommended denial. The Zoning Board of Adjustment decides such matters, rather than the Planning Commission. ZBA denied the request, so the applicant appealed. Schiff was not present at the Z&P Committee meeting and Meg Tuthill successfully blocked the certificate of non-conforming use without batting an eye. I think Cam Gordon was the only one to vote in favor. Reich and Goodman also went against. Perhaps the owner will come back with a request to rezone the property to R3, seeing as how it was just successfully done on Aldrich.
I don't think it was an issue with Schiff not being present. To get the certificate of non-conforming use, they have to prove that the property has been operating as a legally established triplex since before the zoning downgrade. The Z&P Committee is acting in a quasi-judicial capacity and they have to adhere to what the burden of proof is in these applications and the applicant didn't meet that burden of proof. It's a matter of process, and the applicant would be much more successful pursuing an application for zoning change. The Planning Commission just granted an application for zoning change for another property in identical situation just last week. Schiff was present for the city council meeting where he presented the report from the meeting that was chaired by Meg. If he disagreed with the decision, he would have pulled the item off the report for discussion by the full city council, but he didn't. He agreed with the committee that their wasn't enough evidence to grant the certificate of non-conforming use and while moving the entire Z&P report forward for approval, encouraged the applicant to pursue an application for zoning change.

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby twincitizen » November 27th, 2013, 10:31 am

Absolutely massive agenda posted for December 2: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/p ... S1P-117506

Mozaic East, 4525 France apartments, a 12-unit apartment building at 42nd & Dight (??), Be The Match HQ, several less consequential items, and finally, the Linden Hills Small Area Plan. Site plans and/or staff reports will be going up shortly.

It's gonna be a long night!

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby degersblogg » November 27th, 2013, 12:46 pm

LHSAP will be the big item of the night. CPED recommends approval of the LHSAP with the removal of the definition of building height. However, they basically invited the CPC to amend the maximum preferred building height if they thought it was inadequate to accommodate 4-story mixed use development.
Last edited by degersblogg on November 27th, 2013, 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

degersblogg
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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby degersblogg » November 27th, 2013, 12:51 pm

Also, 4525 France should be interesting. LHiNC zoning committee recommended to not approve because it was inconsistent with LHSAP. Only problem is that LHSAP is not yet approved or adopted into comprehensive plan. Guarantee that CPC decision on this will be appealed.

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby FISHMANPET » November 27th, 2013, 1:53 pm

I love how people think the Small in Small Area Plan is about keeping buildings small.

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby twincitizen » November 27th, 2013, 2:05 pm

Hilarious. I nominate that for post of the week!

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby degersblogg » November 27th, 2013, 4:57 pm

FISHMANPET wrote:I love how people think the Small in Small Area Plan is about keeping buildings small.
Commissioner Huynh, at the last CPC COW, called the SAP a preservation plan.

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby degersblogg » December 17th, 2013, 3:50 pm

I attended the last CPC meeting, which was the last of the year. It was the last meeting for Liz Wielenski, who was the Park Board appointee. She left early, and didn't have any prior engagements as far as I know. During discussion on the last agenda item, she simply got up and left. Prior, she seemed to have a frustrated look on her face (regarding the length of the meeting?), but since it was her last meeting as a commissioner she simply got up and walked out. I don't know what others thoughts are, but if she simply left because she no longer cared at that point, I think it was highly disrespectful to the other members and others who showed up to watch the proceedings.

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby twincitizen » January 9th, 2014, 11:13 am

Big agenda for the first meeting of the new year. New PC members include Lisa Bender and Meg Forney (Park Board Rep).

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/p ... S1P-118965

LynLake Brewery CUP and variances recommended for approval.
4000 Lyndale (Harriet's / Crooked Pint) is back asking for the adjacent vacant lot to be rezoned from R to C1 to allow a parking lot.
Block E renovation is on the agenda but continued to the March 2 meeting.

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby mattaudio » January 9th, 2014, 11:19 am

Will HC be replacing Cohen? Or will there be any other turnover?

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Re: Minneapolis City Planning Commission

Postby twincitizen » January 9th, 2014, 11:32 am

Some terms are expiring 1/31, but can be reappointed. The online roster is not updated, so I'm not sure how accurate that is with regards to whose terms expire this year.

It's a shame that the City Council only gets one appointee (in addition to a City Council rep, now Lisa Bender), while the Mayor gets 5 (themself or a designee and four appointees). The Mayor's four appointees do require City Council approval however.

The remaining 3 seats go to Hennepin County, Park Board, and School Board representatives. I'm not sure if those appointees need to be confirmed by the City Council or those bodies can simply appoint someone without oversight by the City. Given Dan Cohen's presence, I assume the latter. You've got to imagine Hennepin County no longer wants him speaking on their behalf...right? What benefit do they gain by having an attention-loving, microphone-hogging blowhard speak on their behalf?


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