Public Hearing: Comprehensive Plan Amendment & Rezoning with Variances for Hankerson Avenue and 52nd Street West

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CLOSED: This item is on the July 21 City Council agenda.

i would like to start off by saying thank you for your continued thoughtful consideration of our concerns. After reviewing the plans and watching the builder's presentation last night, our family continues to take issue with the impact this project will have on the character of the neighborhood. The plan they presented did not seem to reflect thoughtful reconsideration of the potential options for developing the property. They simply removed two units. What remains is still two huge, imposing complexes that appear way too large for the lots and that the neighborhood does not feel fits with the established character. The builder continues to argue that the only way this development is economically viable is to squeeze a large number of units onto the property, and that justifies rezoning the area. However, when the mayor asked for a simple figure to substantiate that claim, cost per square feet, the builder claimed he was unable to provide that information. Since the builder brought costs up as a justification, it seem very disingenuous to say they can't provide basic cost data. While a business clearly has a right to make a profit, it shouldn't come at the permanent undue expense of the neighborhood. My suspicion is that the builder could easily provide cost information to the council and he declined to do so because it would not have supported his position. I hope that the council presses for more information to support the assertion that rezoning is truly necessary for these lots. The council made a commitment to our neighborhoods to preserve their zoning, and to rezone without requiring a builder to back up their claims does not live up to that commitment. In conclusion, I would like to thank you all for the service you are providing to our neighborhood and city as a whole. My eyes have been opened to how complex and time consuming your service is and it is greatly appreciated!

CaitErickson 6 months ago

i would like to start off by saying thank you for your continued thoughtful consideration of our concerns. After reviewing the plans and watching the builder's presentation last night, our family continues to take issue with the impact this project will have on the character of the neighborhood. The plan they presented did not seem to reflect thoughtful reconsideration of the potential options for developing the property. They simply removed two units. What remains is still two huge, imposing complexes that appear way too large for the lots and that the neighborhood does not feel fits with the established character. The builder continues to argue that the only way this development is economically viable is to squeeze a large number of units onto the property, and that justifies rezoning the area. However, when the mayor asked for a simple figure to substantiate that claim, cost per square feet, the builder claimed he was unable to provide that information. Since the builder brought costs up as a justification, it seem very disingenuous to say they can't provide basic cost data. While a business clearly has a right to make a profit, it shouldn't come at the permanent undue expense of the neighborhood. My suspicion is that the builder could easily provide cost information to the council and he declined to do so because it would not have supported his position. I hope that the council presses for more information to support the assertion that rezoning is truly necessary for these lots. The council made a commitment to our neighborhoods to preserve their zoning, and to rezone without requiring a builder to back up their claims does not live up to that commitment. In conclusion, I would like to thank you all for the service you are providing to our neighborhood and city as a whole. My eyes have been opened to how complex and time consuming your service is and it is greatly appreciated!Caitlin Erickson5108 William Ave

CaitErickson 6 months ago

Hello and thank you for your time! Our names are Dr.'s Tyler and Elisabeth Gress, and we live at 5137 William Avenue, just across the alley from the proposed area.If this proposal is accepted, we see it as a compromise between the Planning Commission/City Council Members and Donnay Builders, and not a compromise that honors the wishes of the neighborhood that have been so frequently expressed. We as neighborhood would be just as loud as we originally were in the early Spring were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic drawing focus away, and were we not fatiguing on saying "no" to an all too similar plan. When we expressed loudly that this plan doesn't fit the character of the neighborhood, we weren't asking for two less units yet again. We have yet to see an option that meets the criteria of not changing the character of the neighborhood; this plan is no different. Just because consolation continues to be made on an original plan that was far from fitting does not mean this is the right plan - at what point do we just admit it shouldn't be squeezed into this location, and plan overhaul is what is really needed?We would piggyback onto the comments of city council member Mary Brindle during a previous meeting where she brought up the idea that we aren’t seeing any creativity of plans to match this unique spot, and yet creativity is just what was required on a project over on France not long ago. We’ve also heard commentary from Council Members Staunton that the area will just “remain empty“ if we don’t put something there, but that’s not a good enough excuse to change the character of our neighborhood. In fact, every time that changes have been asked for thus far, we’ve been met with a new plan, this time even ahead of closing the case on the 10 unit option (this after previously being told by the builders that the plan could be downsized no further). The continued price hike away from affordable housing highlights the idea that this plan never seemed to fit what it sold to accomplish to begin with. 750k townhomes do not belong in any conversation about affordable family housing, even though this topic of “kinda affordable” has been frequently interjected into the conversation by the builders. Without creativity (significant plan overhaul) they were never affordable housing for the average family to begin with. Without creativity, they will be the size of the White House on our block, albeit now with a small 20 foot chunk in the middle. Without creativity, they still require a zoning change, variances, unique parking, and already amending the comprehensive plan which sought to ensure protection of family neighborhoods. Without creativity, you’re still placing an absurd number of new garages into an alleyway saturated with kids playing (which we love and highlights the true character of this family neighborhood) and snow removal problems at baseline. How about underground garages, maybe for half of the units? How about unique plan layout that isn’t focused on “as much building as possible in the space that the council will allow us?”The frustration of the neighborhood with this lack of creativity has caused some of us to draw up an example of a more creative plan that is similar to what is currently present. I strongly urge you to consider this option, if only as an example of how easily other unique plans can be constructed.These times are unprecedented, and while we have to move forward, the feeling of safety and community in one's neighborhood is more important than ever. We ask that you not take this away from Hankerson and William, that you not take this away from our family, that you not take this away from our 6 week old son who wants to play safely in the backyard, and maybe learn to ride a bike in the neighborhood alley. We ask that you accept something based on fit, not continued inadequate consolation and fatigue.

Tyler and Elisabeth Gress 6 months ago

My name is Dennis and I live on Hankerson Avenue. As Theo stated-who lives several blocks away, “And the building feels a bit foreign to the neighborhood”. Other neighbors on Hankerson and William Avenues have noticed other changes to the current “Donnay Applicant Submittal” on BTE and would like to comment.1) In a meeting on February 28th (as well as at the City Council Meeting April 7th), Donnay Homes mentioned 10-units would be the minimum they would build due to costs. Why then, are we meeting 5/27/20 and 6/16/20 to discuss an 8-unit proposal? Especially when material costs have only gone up the last several years. What has changed and why are we here today?2) During the last several meetings with Commissioners, Council Members and Mayor Hovland, concerns were raised with the “Hankerson Avenue” and “Northern” property setbacks. These setbacks were revised in March and April, but the builder has since gone back to the original setbacks (per their current “Applicant Submittal” on BTE). The 50-foot Northern setback is now back to 42.5, and several new 5-foot deep by 20-feet “tall” Porches have been added. This means the street setback is now 5 feet closer to Hankerson than other homes. Director Teague has confirmed these setbacks are now back to what was proposed before. Although we feel saving the 2 trees on the “south” side is important, it looks like we took 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Especially since there is a 20-foot section of empty space between the two 4-plexes, and the units have decreased by two, freeing up 40-60 feet of available space.3) Neighbors still feel these 2 massive buildings with 8-units change the “Character of the Neighborhood”, and no options have been submitted after numerous requests from Commissioners and City Council Members.4) Also, does it make sense to replace a large 4-plex (that is too large for this property) with TWO large 4-unit buildings?Sincerely, Hankerson, William and Bedford Avenue Neighbors

denbor 6 months ago

My name is Theo Grothe. I am a registered Residential Architect living in the neighborhood at 5132 Bedford Avenue. I have worked for many award-winning Residential Architecture Firms in the Twin Cities over the past 19 years in the industry, specializing in thoughtful, well designed remodels and new builds. While the size and scope of the projects seems appropriate and thoughtful, I'd like to ask about the exterior treatment - siding, windows and doors. First - what are they? From the exterior elevations, it looks like a combination of stone, horizontal lap siding, vertical board and batten, and flat trimwork. What are the materials - vinyl, cement board, wood, other? The windows appear to be double hung with divided lights on the upper sash. What are the materials - vinyl, aluminum, wood? Are the divided lights real or simulated, or are they grills within the glass? What are the proposed colors?What is the design intent with each material? What is the hierarchy of material use? How could you rework the materials on the exterior elevations to better fit the community? I ask these questions because this is my community and the building feels a bit foreign to the neighborhood. I would recommend partnering with a registered residential architect and have them review and provide suggestions to simplify the design and create a stronger connection to the neighborhood. Also - please explain what the atrium is and how it is used, serviced, maintained.Thank you.Theo Grothe

Theo_Grothe 6 months ago