Neighborhood seeks better handle on development

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April 5, 2004 // UPDATED 1:10 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Keeping track of development on Downtown's East Bank, one of the city's fastest growing neighborhoods, is a challenging task.

New condo projects have been popping up at a rapid clip in the neighborhood between Central and Hennepin avenues just across the river from Downtown. More than 1,000 new units are expected along the riverfront in the next few years.

Neighborhood leaders with the Nicollet Island/East Bank Neighborhood Association (NIEBNA) are calling on city leaders to fine-tune the way it keeps neighborhoods abreast of new development.

NIEBNA board member Kevin Upton, a resident at Marquette Townhomes, 217 Bank St. SE, circulated some suggestions at a recent board meeting. One is that the city's Community Planning and Economic Development department (CPED) confirm with neighborhood officials when a developer has told CPED that the neighborhood has reviewed a

proposal.

Upton also suggests that CPED follow up with the neighborhood when the project is completed. City planners would gauge neighborhood satisfaction with development, among other things.

Said Upton, "We find ourselves in situations where suddenly a business would open and nobody ever told us they got zoning ordinances or anything. Once the developer gets the money and builds the housing, there's no follow-up in terms of their performance."

He added, "It's quite possible for the same developer to sort of roll through the countryside collecting millions of dollars from the city, building shabby housing and moving on and getting the next grant."

Other Downtown neighborhood groups have also expressed frustration that no formal evaluation process exists for the seemingly endless condo projects springing up in their midst.

The North Loop Neighborhood Association, has enlisted the help of City Planner Jack Byers, who focuses on Downtown neighborhoods, to come up with a better process to review development proposals.

CPED and city officials had no comment on Upton's suggestions and pointed to the protocols outlined in the city's Zoning Code.

The code requires developers to "demonstrate in writing" that they have contacted the neighborhood organization where their project will be located before filing applications with the city.

Planners are then required to notify all property owners within 350 feet of the project's site 21 days before a public hearing on the project.

The NIEBNA board did not take action

on Upton's suggestions at the March meeting but planned on revisiting the issue at future meetings.