City Council rejects proposed Dinkytown development moratorium

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August 30, 2013 // UPDATED 2:28 pm - August 30, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

City Council Member Diane Hofstede’s proposed Dinkytown development moratorium failed to pass at this morning’s City Council meeting.

The Council voted 6-6 on the proposal; a tie vote means it fails.

Hofstede, who represents the city's Third Ward, said the six-month moratorium, which would have applied to a four-block area, would allow the Dinkytown Business Association and Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association to complete small area plans before vetting new development projects. “The purpose is to protect the planning process,” she said. 

The proposal comes on the heels of a City Council vote to allow Opus to move forward with a 140-unit apartment building in the heart of Dinkytown, and as Doran Companies is about to move through the city’s approval process for a proposed six-story apartment building not far from the Opus project.

The Opus project was criticized by some in the community for threatening the University of Minnesota neighborhood’s historic charm and character. A group called Save Dinkytown mobilized to fight the project.

City Council Member Gary Schiff criticized Hofstede’s proposed development moratorium and said it unfairly targeted Doran’s project. “Planning goes well when we make the rules level to everybody,” he said, adding that moratoriums should be introduced at the beginning of the planning process, not the end.

“The idea of more student housing is not a problem that needs to be solved,” he said.

Hofstede pointed to the Council’s actions on proposed development in Linden Hills as precedent for supporting a moratorium in Dinkytown.

Schiff countered that the Council first voted against the proposed Linden Corner project at 43rd and Upton and then pursued a development moratorium in the neighborhood.

The vote breakdown was as follows: Council members Cam Gordon, Kevin Reich, Diane Hofstede, Sandy Colvin Roy, Meg Tuthill and Barb Johnson voted yes; Betsy Hodges, Don Samuels, Gary Schiff, Robert Lilligren, John Quincy and Elizabeth Glidden voted no. Council Member Lisa Goodman was absent. 

After the Council vote, Kelly Doran, principal of Doran Cos., said the company would work with commuity and business leaders to create a project that will help revitalize Dinkytown.

"It is our goal to build a project that will not onlyn maintain, but enhance the character of this iconic neighborhood," he said. 

Hofstede is facing a competitive race for reelection. Following the Council vote, her leading opponent Jacob Frey, the DFL-endorsed candidate for the Third Ward seat, said the vote is a "break from the usual deference given to council members by their peers regarding projects in their home ward."

"Hail Mary moratoriums on all development are rarely a good idea," he said. "Here, we were forced to use a sledgehammer when we should have started early and chiseled out a better result."