Plans for a five-story apartment building near Minneapolis' Eat Street is moving forward, following a council committee's rejection of an appeal from neighbors.

Residents who live near the site of the planned 70-unit complex had challenged the city Planning Commission's approval of the project. They said the developers' assertion that the building needed to be five stories because of underground contamination wasn't grounded in scientific evidence and that city approval of the plans should be delayed.

The development is planned for a currently vacant lot at the corner of E. 26th Street and Stevens Avenue in the Whittier neighborhood. For decades, it was the home of a dry cleaning business and laundry. After the laundry business shut down in the 1980s, the property ended up on the state's Superfund cleanup list and had been part of a years-long environmental remediation project.

CPM Development plans to put down a vapor barrier material to prevent any toxic materials from leeching into the building, but has said it would be too costly to safely build a basement level. At a Thursday meeting of the council's Zoning and Planning committee, an attorney representing the developer again said building below ground would not make sense.

A group of neighbors, led by resident Giancarlo Casale, argued that the developers' claims were not backed up with clear, recent environmental testing -- and that the development was threatening the character of the neighborhood.

"This development has caused a lot of stress on our street," he said. "Already one person has arranged to sell his house and move away ... and multiple business leaders have expressed second thoughts about investing in the neighborhood."

Council Member Lisa Bender, who oversees the committee, said she understood the neighbors' concerns but believes the city should approve the plans for a "challenging" site. The committee voted unanimously to reject the neighbors' appeal.