The Hermantown City Council has imposed a six-month moratorium on multifamily developments in parts of the city after residents pushed back on several proposed projects in the past year.
The pause on new applications only affects high-density developments in areas zoned for single-family housing, where developers have increasingly sought to build.
The goal of the moratorium is to give the city time to work with a consultant to craft policies that give developers and residents more certainty over what kinds of projects can and will be approved.
"This temporary six-month pause was supported by city staff so that we can take the time to better understand what our community wants to accomplish in terms of housing," Eric Johnson, Hermantown's community development director, wrote in a letter to developers and real estate agents.
In January, as the City Council considered a four-story senior living complex that included 16 townhouse units and 18 single-family homes, more than 100 residents packed into the Hermantown council chambers to oppose a "dangerous precedent," as one neighbor put it.
Despite support from city staff, the council ultimately voted down the project 3-2. A revised and scaled-down development was approved for the site in April.
This fall, the planning commission denied a 90-unit apartment and townhouse project on a neighboring property. That proposal also had the support of city staff based on existing city ordinances.
"We followed all the rules to a T — it should pass, according to the regulations," said developer James Talago. "The demand is there. The city needs housing."
Johnson said in an interview that as more developments like Talago's are proposed amid a regional housing shortage, the city needs to have a "clear path and understanding" for the approval process.
"Our planned unit development process right now is a box without sides," Johnson said. "So we're hoping to define the edges of that box."
Talago said he hopes the moratorium helps address the city's 20-year-old land use plan, which he sees as a hurdle between new developments and community support. "I think ultimately it's a good thing. ... They haven't done a lot of their legwork as far as land use," he said.
Brooks Johnson • 218-491-6496