St. Paul took steps Wednesday to rein in the size of new homes in two neighborhoods hit hardest by the teardown phenomenon.
Residents in the Highland Park and Macalester-Groveland areas have grown frustrated with developers razing small homes and replacing them with larger ones that they say spoil views, steal sunshine and change the character of their streets.
In response, the City Council agreed Wednesday to establish height limits along the sides of new homes and to restrict the lot space devoted to a house and garage to no more than 40 percent of the lot.
Council Member Chris Tolbert, who represents the area and pushed for the changes, said at a hearing last week that the proposal was not perfect, but represented an effort to balance investment in a neighborhood with retention of its original charm.
“There is no silver bullet to this,” he said then.
A variation of the limits was first proposed by city planners as part of a study including input from neighborhood leaders as well as architects, builders and Realtors. At last week’s hearing, no one spoke in opposition, and three people spoke in favor of the ordinance. Wednesday’s approval was unanimous, and came without discussion.
The council also voted Wednesday to rename E. 4th Street east of CHS Field as “Positively 4th Street” in recognition of Minnesota native Bob Dylan, who wrote a song of the same name and who has played at dozens of minor league ballparks.
CHS Field is the new home of the St. Paul Saints, and Dylan performed three sold-out shows at the team’s former Midway Stadium home.
Council Member Dave Thune, who proposed the name change, introduced Saints owner Mike Veeck as the man behind the “Positively 4th Street” idea, which Thune described as being “just for fun — because fun is good.”
Veeck, addressing the council, went deeper into rock lore by noting that while there also is an E. Prince Street near CHS Field, he’d refrain from suggesting it instead bear a symbol denoting it as the street formerly known as Prince.
Prince, the musician, once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol while in a dispute with his record company.