Edina tightens teardown rules

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 3, 2013 - 11:44 PM

A building enforcement specialist will oversee projects.

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A backhoe operator from Final Grade worked on knocking down a Cape Cod home in February 2012 in Edina to build a new home on the lot for a family moving from Seattle

Photo: DAVID JOLES, Star Tribune

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Edina is tightening supervision of residential teardowns and replacements, with new requirements and a new enforcement specialist to supervise projects from start to finish.

The plan, approved by the City Council this week and taking effect immediately, will allow the city to hire for the new position by raising the price of demolition permits from about $200 to $1,500.

“I think and I hope the impact will be that we have both the field resources and the legal resources we need to better manage what many people in the community say is a problem,” said City Manager Scott Neal, who proposed the changes.

Teardowns and the new homes that replace them have been a source of angst in Edina, where last year a record 100 teardowns occurred. Construction is heavy in certain neighborhoods, with towering new dwellings sometimes filling small lots. With no designated city specialist to call, neighbors upset with noise, disruption and supposed code violations have taken to calling police, the city planning department and others.

Now those calls will go to one person. That person, who is expected to be consulted by homeowners, neighbors and developers who have questions or complaints, could be a full-time city employee or a contract employee. Neal said consulting firms have expressed interest.

“What we want to accomplish with the ordinance is to have a reliable, centralized resource for people who are experiencing the unintended consequences of redevelopment,” he said. “We need a person with a phone number and an e-mail address so people know who they’re calling.”

The city also changed other rules affecting teardowns. Permitted work hours on teardown sites have gone from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Builders can work from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and can’t work on Sundays. In some cases, builders will be required to provide detailed plans to prevent adjacent properties from being damaged by shifting soil or excavation. City building officials will document characteristics of a building site by taking pictures before permits are issued.

Builders must notify neighbors of pending projects and invite them to an information meeting before demolition begins. They must keep intersections and driveways clear of construction vehicles, control dust and keep sites neat. They also are required to post signs that are legible from the street, submit stormwater and erosion control plans to the city and repair any damage to public property, streets and sidewalks.

The city is requiring proof of $1 million in insurance coverage and a cash escrow of $2,500.

More changes that affect redevelopment in Edina are expected to come from a Planning Commission task force that has been studying city code requirements affecting things like setbacks and building height. Those recommendations are expected to go to the City Council in May.

 

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380

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