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Minneapolis City Council rejects Dinkytown development moratorium

A moratorium that would have delayed development in Dinkytown until area merchants and residents complete their development guidelines was voted down Friday by the Minneapolis City Council.

The action came the day after developer Kelly Doran made his first presentation to Planning Commission members for a six-story, 70-unit apartment building for the area, which is adjacent to the University of Minnesota,

The measure lost on a 6-to-6 vote, with Council Member Lisa Goodman out of the country.

“The moratorium is a defensible action. It’s legally defensible. It’s defensible because we have two small area plans under way,” said Council Member Diane Hofstede, who proposed the moratorium.

The small area plans in question are currently being written by the Dinkytown Business Association and the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association. These plans supplement the broader view taken by the city planners in an effort to reflect the preferences of those who live or own a business in an area.

“The purpose of the moratorium is to protect the planning process,” said Hofstede, who estimated the planning could be completed within six months.

The proposed moratorium would have covered four square blocks bounded by University Avenue on the south and Fifth Street Southeast on the north, between 13th and 15th avenues.

The rejected moratorium came just four weeks after the council voted to allow a six-story, 140-unit apartment development project to move forward against the wishes of some residents who campaigned to “Save Dinkytown.”

“I don’t think it is a fair process for policy-makers to find out a development is coming along and change the rules,” said Council Member Gary Schiff, who serves on the Planning Commission and chairs the Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee.

“I think the non-passage of this creates an opportunity for everybody to take a deep breath,” said Doran after the meeting. “We can move forward at a reasonable pace and try to work it out.”

“If you have an objective view of Dinkytown, and you really walk around the area and look behind the buildings, not just at the streets, [you’ll see] that the area is in need of reinvestment,” Doran said, adding that the reinvestment could save historic structures in the area.

“I was told by a professional consultant that the next two or three months will determine the fate of Dinkytown,” said Kristen Eide-Tollefson, who owns Book House and is the Dinkytown Business Association representative to the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association.

“There is very little time to deal with this,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to finish the [planning] process before we become embroiled in another construction project.”

The Doran project will now begin obtaining a permit for construction. The process includes public hearings by the Planning Commission, the council’s Zoning and Planning Committee and a vote by the full council. Construction could begin next summer.

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