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B-20-10, 4248 Alden Drive, Front Yard Setback Variance

3 months ago

The Planning Commission approved this variance request at the May 13, 2020 meeting. The decision was appealed to the City Council. The City Council public hearing date is June 16 and the final decision meeting date is July 21. 

Updated Applicant Submittal

The applicant is requesting an 18.6 foot front yard setback variance to the required front yard setback along Morningside Road. The subject property is a corner lot and is required to maintain two front yard setbacks, one on Morningside Road and one on Alden Drive. 

The applicant is proposing a new home oriented off of Morningside Road. The existing single family home has a 10.2 foot setback from Morningside Road, the proposed setback is 11.2 feet. The new home is setback further from Alden Drive than the existing home. 

Applicant Submittal-Original

Final Action on this project is taken by the Planning Commission. 

Please contact Assistant City Planner, Emily Bodeker, with questions regarding this project. 

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  • katiegdawson 3 days ago
    I would like to ask for an appeal of the planning commission's decision to grant the variance. Also, I am writing to ask that the council review the video from the planning commission meeting on May 13th. During this meeting, the builder managed to secure two additional rounds of voting after the first vote did not grant the variance he was seeking. In short, when the vote didn’t go his way in round one, he managed talk his way into two more rounds of voting….by simply staying on the line. Due to the setting of the meeting (on a zoom format), I believe that the committee members were placed under duress in order for the builder to buy more time to secure more rounds of votes. While I am not fluent in Robert’s Rules of Order, I feel certain that what transpired on May 13th was highly unusual and unfair to both the committee members (who were detained by a lengthy meeting) and to the property owners who live around this potential variance (many of whom were unaware that a request had been filed). I urge the council to overturn this decision. Thank you for your consideration!
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  • marknavo 5 days ago
    We are writing to express our support for over-turning the 18.6 front yard setback variance that was granted to 4248 Alden Drive. Because we are six houses away, we and other neighbors further north on Alden Drive have not had an opportunity to voice our concerns about this matter and the impact it will have on the character of Alden Drive and the Morningside Neighborhood. We write you now in hopes that the City Council takes action to overturn the variance. When viewing the surrounding homes in the Morningside neighborhood, it is clear that the variance fails in that it clearly alters the essential character of the neighborhood. It will result in a home that is placed too close to the sidewalk of one of the most walked streets in the neighborhood. Furthermore, moving the driveway to Alden Drive is a significant alteration that completely changes Alden Drive as no other lot on the entire block contains a home that does not face Alden Drive.As you think through this decision, we would urge you to visit the lot in person and visualize what an anomaly it would be when compared to the other homes on Alden Drive. Jody and Mark Nahlovsky 4236 Alden Drive
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  • Framke 7 days ago
    I live directly across from the lot in question and strongly urge the council to overturn the variance granted by the planning commission on May 13 for these reasons: Not in over 100+ years……has any house on Morningside Rd between France Ave & Wooddale been allowed to build so close to the property line as this 4248 Alden Drive project was granted. Not in over 100+ years! And we're talking 86-feet of house...a huge structure closer to the property line than any house has ever been allowed since before there was any oversight committees. This is clearly a violation of the 4th Condition for granting a variance: that it “not alter the essential character of the neighborhood.” And as if that one fact alone isn’t enough for a repeal, there isn’t one house, not one, that has a garage as the dominant and only feature facing Alden Drive as this proposed house does.If this variance passes, precedent is set, overturning rules that for decades (100+ years) have protected this neighborhood from projects like this one. The neighborhood will be forever altered and developers will have new ammunition to build even larger, neighborhood-altering houses. Please overturn this variance.Thank you.Jeff Framke4105 Morningside Rd.
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  • Lila F 24 days ago
    I’m writing to request that this variance is approved. I have grown up in the house that currently stands at 4248 Alden Dr with my dad, Cary Franklin, and my brother. I was put through Edina Public Schools and have participated in countless Edina sports and extracurriculars. I agree that this is an incredibly fantastic neighborhood in Edina, and I'm proud to have grown up here. My father is now an empty nester in this home, has health issues, and can not afford to live in this property any longer, let alone keep it well maintained. My father has been trying to sell this property quite a long time with no success because of the unique characteristics of this corner lot. The proposed new development is the closest he’s been to finally selling this property off, and it is unlikely that another opportunity like this will present itself again for a very long time, again due to the lot’s risky development nature. I tuned into the City Council Public Hearing Call about the proposed variance on June 16, 2020, and heard many neighbors chime in about how they don’t want this variance approved because they don’t like the way the plan looks or believe it “doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood.” Frankly, the fact that neighbors are opposed to this proposal because of what they have to "look" at every day is incredibly privileged, shallow and trivial. My father's peace, health, and financial stability rest on the approval of this variance. Many argued that because they have “lived here” in this neighborhood for so long, they don’t want the neighborhood changing to include a home that they don’t think will be visually appealing. My father DOES actually live here, on this property in question, and it has been the heaviest burden on his aging shoulders trying to get out of this house. I really hope that the physical and financial wellbeing of a longtime Edina resident is considered when making a decision before these frivolous comments about appearance. Undoubtedly, as has happened with countless other properties in the Morningside neighborhood, people will get used to the new home and maybe even grow to like it.
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    • Morningsider 21 days ago
      According to information available on realtor.com and Hennepin County Property Records, your family bought this home for $369,000 in 2002 and listed it for sale at $525,000 February 15, 2018. On March 5, 2018 - only about two weeks after listing it - the price changed to $1.5 million. This suggests that your family reached some kind of agreement with the builder, who will not pay your family for the property until the city approves his plans so he can build on it and sell it. If that is the case, it suggests that the property really was only on the open market for about two weeks in 2018 before the builder swooped in. I sympathize with your father - I also am getting on in years - but I wonder if you could work with the builder to come up a plan that won't be so objectionable to neighbors or somehow get out whatever agreement you may have with the builder so it can be relisted.
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      • Lila F 21 days ago
        I'd like to clarify that the list price of $1.5 million you saw was a plan proposed by a different developer, Great Neighborhood Homes, which ended up falling through early last year. This has continued to happen for my family, where plans fall through because developers become too ambitious with their plans (in my opinion) for the lot and no one is willing to buy, or on the other hand, someone is willing to buy but neighbors complain about the form of the proposed home. Unfortunately, there is real fear that the developer seeking the variance and the family hoping to move onto this property will back out of their plan to build here if the variance is not approved. The realtor we're working through has tried contacting the builder and the potential buyers to discuss the situation, only to be met with silence at the other end of the receiver. Call it bad luck, call it a poor business agreement, whatever, but I'm asking the city council and neighbors alike to have some empathy regarding this unique situation and understand where I'm coming from. As his daughter, I'm here sticking up for my dad's interests in this matter, because I know he won't put voice to his own financial, physical, and mental stress that he continues to compound the longer he stays in this home.
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        • Morningsider 21 days ago
          Thanks for clarifying.
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        • Andy W. 9 days ago
          I am genuinely sorry about the situation. According to the listing history, GNH ultimately tried for a 1.75M build after securing the rights and never got to the variance stage; now this builder wants to put a 1.5M house here, and they have taken the house off the open market, it is listed as Not Available For Showing.I truely hope your father is able to sell for a good price, in a timely manner; but we can have empathy for his situation and also object to the proposed structure and its impact on the neighborhood you grew up in. There is a good chance that when sold, the lot will be redeveloped, and a fair chance that a variance of some sort will be required due to the corner lot - our problem all along is the egregious nature of this particular variance. Other new construction projects on corner lots in the neighborhood (some on smaller lots) prove that it is possible to build a modern house on corner lots without raising the opposition this project has, but perhaps not a totally unsuitable 4300+ sq ft one as proposed, I am afraid. You allude to the problem being that the developers overreach, and I tend to agree; your family has my sympathy for the situation the entire process puts your father in, but that doesn't alter my opposition to the details of the proposed construction.
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    • Kay 17 days ago
      We live across the street from at 4101 Morningside Road in a 1917 home and we just sold it in a week to a young couple with a toddler and a baby on the way because they wanted to the charm of the neighborhood and home. If you want our realtor's name, I would be happy to give it to you.
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  • Kay 9 days ago
    I am writing this to ask that the variance for 4248 Alden Dr. be overturned. I have lived in Morningside for 30 years in 2 different houses on the same block because we love the neighborhood. Currently we live directly across the street on Morningside Road, where we have a lovely view of the property across the street. People search out neighborhoods such as Linden Hills and Morningside to live in for their unique charm, character, and historical significance. I know this, because we just sold our 1917 house in 1 week to a young couple with a toddler and baby on the way. They told us they have been renting and looking for a house in our neighborhood for awhile because they wanted the feeling of the neighborhood. The mature trees, unique quaint homes, sidewalks, cannot be recreated. In fact they are disappearing and need to be preserved, not destroyed. The proposed home to be built at 4248 Alden would definitely subtract from that much sought after feel and style of the neighborhood. Its massive size will take up more green space and most likely require trees taken down. Being set on a small hill means the house will tower over the other homes, blocking sunlight and views from the neighbors. Basically the house just does not fit on the lot or in this neighborhood. Houses as the proposed, would fit much better in other suburbs where it would fit better size wise and character wise. Contrary to the builder's design and opinion, a very lovely home that would fit the lot and the style of Morningside could be built on that lot. In fact one already exists. With a little more creativity and time I would think a builder could come up with something that would not require variances. The moving of the driveway to Alden is also very problematic considering the traffic on Alden and the narrowness of the street. the driveway would be extremely close to the stop sign there as well. I fear the planning committee seems to be more concerned with fulfilling what the builder wants to push versus honoring the needs and opinions of people living day in and day out in their chosen, beloved neighborhood which they have nurtured and enjoyed over the years. Please reconsider approving the variance for those people who live here and for whom you represent. Thank you!
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  • Rosanne Malevich 2 months ago
    We sincerely request that the setback variance is denied. My husband and I have been Alden Drive residents for over 30 years and have seen much change. We understand that new houses are bound to replace smaller, older houses, and small variances to set back requirements are sometimes justified. However, a 40% variance request, as is being requested, is just too much. This is not an “oops, we’re six inches off” variance request. Because the property is elevated to begin with, a large house on that lot would already be imposing to the neighborhood, even if current set-back requirements were met. Move that house seven feet closer to Morningside, and it will feel like a motel on the corner lot. These plans were drafted explicitly expecting a variance to be granted. Rules are rules for a reason. This seems disrespectful to the city planners and residents alike. Granting this variance would have an extremely negative impact on this neighborhood.
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  • Roy W 3 months ago
    We live at 4109 Morningside Road, across the street from the proposed 4248 Alden Drive house. We oppose granting the variance to the code. The ordinance was enacted to protect the neighborhood and we support that intent. We believe the project construction is NOT in harmony with the neighborhood. The house would dominate Morningside Road with it's size and closeness to the street. The East side of the design is primarily a driveway and garage - not in harmony with all the other houses on Alden. We believe it is possible to design a beautiful house on this large lot that doesn't require a variance and is in harmony with the Morningside Neighborhood. We are in agreement with the other comments submitted and oppose the requested variance.Roy and Linda Woodstrom
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  • Christopher F. 3 months ago
    Chris F. We live across the street from 4248 Alden Dr. on Morningside.We vote not to allow a Variance. There has to be a limit to how big these new homes are. The sewers in this area are not going to be able to handle the water runoff from these structures . And with a new variance for the proposed house, comes an attached garage with a shorter driveway with the garage closer to the street . I would assume that they would be parking in the street often and be more of a hindrance when the school bus comes and picks all the kids up on Alden and Morningside . Not to mention a safety hazard . And one more reason , everybody saw what happened to the Sidell property. Trees that we’re not supposed to be cut down were cut down. The reason I bring it up is because there are two huge Walnut trees on the proposed property and we would hate to see them wiped out just because another McMansion wants to be erected.(I am not a tree hugger) So that’s a “Big No”!!! On the proposed variance .
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  • djedina 3 months ago
    For over 50 years my wife and I have lived on Morningside Road across from this property. Because of the smaller scale of the existing home, the screening by existing vegetation, and, as pointed-out in other comments, the fact that only a small area of the home protrudes into the modern setback requirement, it unobtrusively fits right into “the essential character of the neighborhood.” In contrast, the proposed new construction would, due its much larger size and its closeness to the sidewalk and to Morningside Road, create a very crowded, cramped feel. It would dramatically alter, in a very negative way, the “essential character” of this small part of our beloved Morningside neighborhood. Looking at the four conditions that must be satisfied to meet the requirements for a variance, I would like to offer some comments: 1) It seems to me that the need to “Relieve practical difficulties in complying with the zoning ordinance” arises not from the ordinance but from the designer of the submitted plans. The city passed these zoning requirements after much planning and discussion in response to complaints from the citizens of Edina about developers building homes that were too large for the property. These regulations are part of the public record and readily available. If the designer had taken Edina’s regulations into account when drawing the original plans, there would be no problem. This is a large property that should allow a designer, using ingenuity and creativity, to create an amazing home while complying with city zoning regulations; 2) The argument that these are circumstances applicable to this property but not to others in the vicinity doesn’t seem valid. I walked the north side of Morningside Road from Arden to Wooddale and, although I didn’t take measurements, I didn’t see any newly constructed homes that appeared to violate the setback ordinance; 3) Squeezing a large home so close to the sidewalk can in no way be considered to “be in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the zoning ordinance”; 4) The character of a neighborhood is not determined solely by the designs of the homes or the materials used to build them. It comes from the subjective feel you get when you walk its sidewalks and drive its streets. Homes built close to the sidewalk give a crowded, intimidating feel, not the open, comforting feel we currently get as we walk the streets of Morningside. Finally, I want to be clear that we love seeing new people move into the neighborhood, and we want them to enjoy it as we have. Perhaps even for 50 years! We are also happy to see the housing stock improved and updated. We just want to see it done in a way that builds on the qualities that make Morningside such a special place to live, not in a way that detracts from those qualities. This is a large property with tremendous potential for building an amazing, beautiful home while still complying with Edina’s zoning ordinances. However, seeing the plans as they are currently presented, and being in complete agreement with all the excellent comments previously posted, we are strongly opposed to the Planning Commission granting a setback variance for this project.
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  • Kay 3 months ago
    I agree with all previous comments opposing this variance! The comments were thoughtful and articulate not to mention rational. So my response is on the more subjective feeling side to round things out. We live across the street from this house on Morningside and have always enjoyed looking at the property across the street as our main view . It is actually charming. People move to Morningside for the charm, builders please don’t take that charm away!
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  • Peter Dawson 3 months ago
    Given the previous experiences from others with this developer, C Alan Homes, I am opposed to the additional variance for this property. Our family lives next door at 4110 Morningside Rd and we are concerned about the structural damage it could do to our home. In addition, it would be 15 feet closer to the street of Morningside Rd than our current setting to the street and it would not fit into the design and feel of the homes in the neighborhood.
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  • Peter Dawson 3 months ago
    Based on the comments and the previous experience from Nicole Williams about the developer, C Alan Homes, I am opposed to the additional variance for this property. Our family lives next door at 4110 Morningside Rd and we are concerned about the structural damage it could do to our home. In addition, it would be 15 feet closer to the street of Morningside Rd than our current setting to the street and it would not fit into the design and feel of the homes in the neighborhood.
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  • Andy W. 3 months ago
    As a resident and property owner directly South of this lot, I object to the variance.As described on the last page of the application: "Minnesota Statues(sic) and Edina Ordinances require that the following conditions must be satisfied affirmatively."I assert that this application fails that test for all four clauses.1. "Relieve practical difficulties in complying with the zoning ordinance and that the use is reasonable" Nearby properties at 4114 and 4115 Morningside either adhere to zoning codes, or required only reasonable variances: - 4114 Morningside is built on a smaller lot (50x140) and was recently renovated with a setback of approx 18' measured from the sidewalk. - 4115 Morningside is on a 50x200 lot, this new construction also appears to acheive approximately 18' setback measured from the sidewalk of Grimes Avenue. I assert that these two proof points within a single block server to rebut the assertion that there are practical difficulties adhering to the zoning ordinance.2. "Correct extraordinary circumstances applicable to this property but not applicable to other property in the vicinity or zoning district." The claim that the setback of the house to the immediate West is disingenuous at best, as that lot has a radically different configuration. Comparisons to 4114 or 4115 Morningside are far more applicable. 50x200 or smaller lots in this neighborhood do not constitute "extraordinary circumstances".3. "Be in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the zoning ordinance" The claim "The intent is to not go any further South than the existing home" is, again, disingenuous at best. The existing structure was built in 1914, when Morningside Road was a meandering dirt track. Approximately 15' of the structure is 10'2" from the South property line. This is approximately 7% of the lot length, and 50% of the structure facing Morningside. The proposed design will violate the existing ordinance for 84' (42% of the lot length) - justifying that on the grandfathered violation is not a proportional response. The fact that a family bought the lot without understanding the zoning ordinances, hired an architect or developer that is incapable of adhering to these ordinances, or whether they have children or not, is irrelevant.4. "Not alter the essential Character of a neighborhood" The proposed structure clearly makes no attempt to blend into a neighborhood dominated by 50x200 or smaller lots. This clause is the most subjective of the four, and given the construction in Morningside is a moving target, but the house presents gable ends consisting of mostly lap-siding to the front aspect, and a massive expanse of 12/12 shingles from multiple aspects. There is no harmony within the design, let alone with the neighborhood it seeks to dominate.This variance seems to be about nothing more than granting a developer higher profits from a 4300+ sq. ft. project, not about making a reasonable accommodation that was unforeseen when the zoning ordinance was approved, or because of severe hardship to a property owner.This variance should be rejected and the property owner encouraged to find an architect who can work within the existing law to create something that fits the neighborhood.
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    • Andy W. 3 months ago
      This site makes submitting a bullet by bullet response to the essential claims nearly impossible.There are actual sections in the above, but the website destroyed them.
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  • Framke 3 months ago
    We live at 4105 Morningside Road, directly across from what would be the new front door of this new home. We oppose this plan. The 18.6 setback should absolutely be enforced. If the builder cannot fit a home on this extremely large lot (50x200) without a asking for a variance, they need to go back to the drawing board, redesign and respect the community and its rules. There is MORE than enough room here to build a large home that meets current requirements.
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  • Nicole Williams 3 months ago
    Our house is one block to the east of this project (3915 Morningside Road) & we lived next door to a C Alan Homes project. During their construction process, our driveway was cracked/sunken, our entire house and garage stucco needed to be replaced and the garage foundation had to be repaired with a helical pier system. We had to hire an attorney, a structural engineer and we spent over two years dealing with continual damage during construction and the subsequent repairs. I spoke at a City Council meeting about this in September 2018. The reason I bring up this information is that with the house next door to us, they were following the guidelines for new builds and passing their inspections, despite extensive damage to our house, garage and driveway. The lots in Morningside are narrow; extra care must be taken to avoid damaging neighboring properties. I would not recommend any additional variance from existing guidelines.
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  • Morris Wee 3 months ago
    I do not approve of the proposed design and setting for this house. I live across the street at 4111 Morningside Road. The proposal makes a much higher and closer presence to Morningside Road, with a very high south front built very wide on the high spot on the property, significantly closer to the street than the neighbor to the west. The design does not fit the feel of the neighborhood--very busy roofline and facade. They have a large 50x200 foot lot and can certainly build a suitable home using the current setback requirements. Yes, the current house does have a small portion that extends a foot closer to Morningside than this plan, but that house was built long ago, perhaps before the current setbacks were in place. The proposed house presents a huge, complex, very high facade much closer to Morningside than the houses adjacent or across the street. It does not suit the neighborhood or the lot on which it is planned. I oppose the plan.
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