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‘We were ambushed’
Hanson said he and 10 builders were invited to talk to Palmisano on Friday afternoon, responding to an invitation from her that said: “I’d like to discuss and understand your perspective on current City processes and policies around residential infill housing (commonly known as “teardowns”). I seek your input on improvement potential to existing regulations.”
He and the other builders went, not realizing that the moratorium had been approved that morning.
“When we got to the meeting we felt like we were ambushed,” he said, adding that he and the other builders estimated that the moratorium could cost hundreds of jobs and $50 million to $100 million in projects.
Sharon Potter noted that the teardown issues are vivid in her Fulton neighborhood. In fact, work was beginning on a new foundation next door to her as she was scraping the ice off her steps on Tuesday. She fears the new house will block the sun from the windows above her living room fireplace.
“This neighborhood wasn’t made for those giant houses,” said Potter, who has lived in the same home for 28 years. “There’s no place for kids to play in the yards. There are no yards.”
Potter said the higher taxes that follow the more valuable new homes penalize longtime residents, particularly retirees such as herself.
Palmisano said that runs counter to the strategy, which she promotes, of providing housing that helps residents age in the neighborhoods where they’ve long lived.
Other communities are dealing with tensions over teardowns. In Edina, the number of housing teardown permits set another record in 2013, but the addition of a redevelopment point person and some new policies seem to have blunted anger over noise and construction mess. Last year, Edina tightened requirements for height and setbacks for new homes depending on lot size.
Riding out the controversy, for now, are the residents who live in the homes that replaced the smaller, older ones across many neighborhoods in the city.
Emily Roy, who with her husband, Jarred, bought a 2,200-square-foot home in the Armatage neighborhood that replaced an older home on the same foundation, said they like having a new home in the city.
While their home has some green space, it doesn’t come with the time-consuming big yard that a suburban home might.
“We think it helps continue to bring the neighborhood up-to-date,” Roy said of the piece-by-piece overhaul of housing. “It helps all our homes. But it’s important that it fits the style of the neighborhood.”
Staff writer Mary Jane Smetanka contributed to this report.
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646