Neighborhood activists seeking stricter height limitations on new developments in Linden Hills were overruled Monday by a key Minneapolis City Council committee.

The city's zoning and planning committee stripped all references to height as measured in feet from the Linden Hills Small Area Plan. That effectively scuttles the desire by some residents to limit new developments along three commercial areas to three stories. A final vote is expected Friday.

Instead, developments along those three zones can be three or four stories, depending partly on their underlying zoning. The fourth stories of buildings in those areas must be stepped back, with some exceptions at 44th Street and France Avenue S., the plan said.

But Council Member Betsy Hodges, who represents the area, successfully advocated for a change to the plan that would encourage smaller buildings.

At her request, the committee passed guidance for city staff that encourages overall building heights and floor-to-floor heights that reflect the architectural context around them, and buildings that are shorter than the current maximums for three- and four-story buildings (42 feet and 56 feet respectively).

The city has been going back and forth with residents who were concerned about two developments that would have been four and five stories. A proposal to limit buildings in some areas to 44 feet tall and those in another area to 50 feet tall was rejected as overly prescriptive.

Outgoing Council Member Meg Tuthill asked why there was a rush to pass the plan, given that seven new council members would arrive in several weeks. She said there should be more clarification for the community.

Council Member Lisa Goodman, one of six incumbents returning, said this council has more experience with Linden Hills development concerns. "The next group of people could say there shouldn't be a height limit," Goodman said. She said incoming council members are "a very pro-density group of people."

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