To noises of disgust from many in the standing-room-only crowd, the Minneapolis Planning Commission voted 6-1 Monday night to approve the controversial Linden Corner development.
“The neighborhood group will likely appeal. We will also start lobbying the City Council,” said Jane Prince, a lawyer for opponents of the development.
The project now moves before the City Counil’s Zoning and Planning Committee for discussion of whether the City will abandon control of the small “pocket park” at the corner of Upton Avenue and 43rd Street. Developer Mark Dwyer has proposed building a replacement park next to the building. If the neighborhood opposition group appeals any of the Planning Commission’s decisions, those appeals will also be heard by the City Council committee.
Individual City Council members have legally not been able to discuss the project yet, but equal numbers of supporters and opponents tugged Monday night at Councilmembers’ heartstrings. Opponents lauded the “grassroots” nature of their opposition, while Linden Hills residents supporting the development said opponents didn't represent the majority of the neighborhood. While 2,000 have signed a petition opposing the development, the neighborhood has roughly 6,000 adult residents.
Every commissioner except City Councilmember Gary Schiff supported the development. Schiff said he was “stunned” that the site’s C1 zoning permitted a large building like this.
“This goes way beyond the intent of the code,” he said, his voice filled with outrage.
“I don’t think 40 units is high density, at all," countered Planning Commission President David Motzenbecker, who is also an architect. He noted he's working on projects six times larger.
“We’ve chosen to live in a city, which is a dense environment,” he said. “Comments were made that a taller building would ‘ruin’ the business node, but there was really no proof given that. There are taller buildings at business nodes all over the city.”
The commission didn’t give Dwyer carte blanche to build his project as designed, though. Commissioners echoed opponents’ concerns about garbage and delivery trucks and asked Dwyer and his architects to come up with a solution that would take trucks off the street.