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Despite moratorium, Linden Hills project inches forward

  • Blog Post by: Eric Roper
  • August 23, 2012 - 12:28 PM

The Linden Hills neighborhood in south west Minneapolis is no stranger to development controversies, and it looks like another one is just around the corner.

After neighbors successfully quashed a five-story mixed use development this spring, the city imposed a moratorium on large-scale development in the Linden Hills area. The neighborhood is development a small area plan, but in the meantime developer Scott Carlson is asking to to build a 60-unit residential building on 45th and France.

Despite the moratorium, the city's zoning and planning committee voted 4-2 Tuesday to grant Carlson a waiver. City staff had recommended approving the waiver.

In voting yes, Council Member Gary Schiff said the developer proposed the project before the moratorium was implemented. When the City Planning Commission voted it down, he decided to submit a new version -- under the moratorium -- rather than continue to pursue an appeal he had filed.

"I think it's very crucial that this committee today sends a message that we do not use moratoriums to target specific developers," Schiff said. "And we don't use them to play 'gotcha' with developers who are listening to the Planning Commission...and are now coming back with a smaller project with no commercial [use]." 

The Linden Hills Neighborhood Council voted last Thursday to recommend that the city deny the waiver. They found an ally Thursday in their representative on the Council, Betsy Hodges, who said she was "baffled" by the recommendation."

"It was clear to the applicant at the time that withdrawal meant it's an entirely new application," Hodges said. "It's an entirely new project. And that it would fall under the moratorium. And that they would have to request a waiver. But there is no guarantee of grandfathering or a fundamental right to continue forward." 

If Thursday's vote is affirmed at next week's Council meeting, the city would still need to approve rezoning and site plans for the project.

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