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Trader Joe’s gets silent treatment — and ‘no’ — from Minneapolis City Council

The firm’s proposed store was unanimously rejected as both sides appear to be preparing for the next phase of the fight.

Trader Joe’s got the silent treatment Friday — and a unanimous “no” vote — from the Minneapolis City Council as both sides appear to be preparing for the next phase of the fight.

Representatives of Trader Joe’s have proposed building a 14,299-square-foot grocery store and a separate 1,200-square-foot liquor store on the 2700 block of Lyndale Avenue South.

The facilities, as planned would require that the block be rezoned from C1, which allows a mix of small businesses and residential properties, to C2, which allows for larger single-use businesses.  C1, however, does not allow off-sale liquor stores; C2 does.

Council Members did not discuss the rezoning application during Friday’s meeting but voted as a block to accept the findings of fact outlining the reasons the application had been unanimously rejected earlier by its Zoning and Planning Committee.

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Voting to accept “findings of fact” is routine when the City Council rejects the recommendations of city staff or a city advisory panel.

In this case, both the Planning Commission and the staff of Community Development and Economic Development recommended approval, saying the rezoning complied with the city’s comprehensive plan.

“That’s the only site in Minneapolis approved by Trader Joe’s,” said Trent Mayberry, a spokesman for those interested in building the store. “We’ll regroup and come back after the Fourth (of July) and decide what we’re going to do,” he said.

Attorneys for the Geurts Family LLC, which is listed as the would-be owners of the Trader Joe’s, submitted a 12-page letter outlining their objections to the council’s rejection and citing related legal decisions.

The letter also discusses “Aldermanic Courtesy,” a process in which council members defer to the wishes of the council member representing the ward where a project is proposed.

Council Member Meg Tuthill, who represents the area, was silent Friday but spoke up at the recent Zoning and Planning Committee meeting: “This is not about Trader Joe’s. This is about a zoning change. Period.”

The findings approved by the City Council cite a 1986 Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that states that those seeking a zoning change must show there was a mistake in the original zoning or that the character of the neighborhood had changed.

“The applicant is unable to make the required showing,” reads the document approved by the council.