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Council president supports SW teardown moratorium

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: March 12, 2014 - 1:04 PM

A proposed moratorium on demolition and construction of single- and two-family homes in southwest Minneapolis has an ally in Council President Barbara Johnson.

The moratorium took effect immediately upon introduction, but needs full City Council approval to be applied for one year. Johnson, who represents half of north Minneapolis, said she pays special attention to the teardown lists and called the amount of demolition in southwest neighborhoods "stunning."

“I think you have to take a pause when you see this kind of big influx of interest," Johnson said. "And in the end, we will have teardowns. It’s a very very attractive part of the city for people to live in. People are extremely happy with the schools out there."

But more needs to be done, she said, to ensure new buildings respect the integrity of a neighborhood. Johnson said she would not be surprised if the council accomplishes that through some additional design standards.

People are tempted to build larger houses, Johnson observed, because of they have already paid a high price for a high-value lot.

"You’re almost tempted – when you’ve spent so much to acquire the lot – to really put something … spectacular on it," Johnson said. "And they push the envelope. And it changes the essential character of the neighborhood.”

She also highlighted an issue with people submitting building plans to the city and then not conforming to them -- such as making a basement higher than shown in an excavation plan.

"It's a game," Johnson said. "And the staff that you need to have a constant observation there is ridiculous."

The council voted unanimously to put the interim moratorium in place. Johnson said she has not heard much disagreement from her colleagues on the issue so far.

The next stop for the moratorium is the city's zoning and planning committee. The chair of that committee, Council Member Lisa Bender, has not responded to a message seeking comment on the proposal.

Here is a map of where demolitions occured around the city in 2013, in addition to home construction.

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