A Minneapolis City Council committee on Thursday delayed a decision on a controversial historic designation for the Homewood section of north Minneapolis.

The neighborhood of 253 properties, tucked into the blocks between Penn Avenue North and Theodore Wirth Park, has been roiled by a push for the historic designation, which would set rules on the types of designs and building materials owners can use on the exterior of their homes.

Opponents see their neighborhood as just fine without the city's intervention, and want to keep it that way. Those who want a historic designation worry that without the protections, the neighborhood could be marred by large-scale development, especially once the Blue Line light rail extension is built.

Council Member Blong Yang, in whose ward the neighborhood falls, spoke to the Zoning and Planning Committee, and asked that they refer the question back to city staff "to find a much more delicate solution to this."

Yang said he supports letting interim historic protection expire until staff can find a solution "that respects neighbors' property rights, one that elaborates on the entire history of Homewood and one that allows for opportunity and growth while still preserving the central character of Homewood."

Yang said the disagreement has become deeply emotional, there's no consensus and he doesn't know what the right answer is.

"Maybe the next council member in Ward 5, whether it's me or anybody else, can make that decision," Yang said.

The committee voted to send the issue back to staff.

Homewood's history is tied to Minneapolis' Jewish community, which found a haven there at a time when the city was considered one of the most anti-Semitic in the country. That heritage, coupled with the neighborhood's distinctive old houses, informed the push for historic designation.

Randall Bradley, a 41-year resident of Homewood who's a proponent of the historic designation, said for him it's all about architecture. He said what should have been a civic process became a political process.

"It's a simple decision," Bradley said. "It should have happened months ago."

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