UPDATED: City Mulls Linden Hills Development Moratorium
Council committee to discuss proposal Thursday.
Thursday, the Council's Zoning and Planning Committee is scheduled to discuss a moratorium on any new zoning changes and building permits in Linden Hills.
"This will go a long way towards making development more of a grassroots, community-based plan rather than a struggle with developers," Councilmember Gary Schiff (Ward 9) said when colleague and Linden Hills' representative Betsy Hodges (Ward 13) introduced the measure on Friday.
Hodges' proposal says the temporary ban would make sure the neighborhood organization's efforts to develop a "small area plan" don't get cut off at the knees before it's completed. Such plans aim to synthesize the neighborhood's preferences—with city help—for what development should look like in the area over the next ten to fifteen years. Linden Hills' plan is still embryonic, though, and won't begin looking for neighborhood input until later this spring.
One big concern looms over Hodges' proposal: property taxes. Broadly speaking, more and denser development means the average homeowner's property tax burden can go down, and the city's budget can goes up. With some small area plans taking a year or more to complete, the moratorium could last for a while. It's not clear, though, if the measure would retard development in the long term.
"I'm supportive of this" moratorium, said Councilmember Robert Lilligren (Ward 6). "I would like to remind us that we do have growth goals and projections for the city. Small area plans need to be reflective of those goals and the assumption can’t be that only some parts of the city grow in population."
While your bathroom or garage remodel won't be in jeopardy—the moratorium only covers Linden Hills' business districts (see map at right), and doesn't cover anyone building within current zoning limits—any development on the former Linden Corner site or a 62-unit France Avenue proposal could be dead on arrival. Hodges' proposal lets potential developers apply for a waiver from the City Council, but both projects have drawn strong opposition from some neighbors.
UPDATE 12:38 p.m. 4/4/12: After Hodges introduced the moratorium on March 30, it went into effect on a temporary basis.
"The ordinance is in effect on an interim basis until a public hearing can be held," said Hodges' aid, Ben Hecker. "Once a public hearing is held the ordinance can be modified, passed as-is, or withdrawn. This is in effect a moratorium, but it’s legally referred to as an interim ordinance."