Brooklyn Park may enact a moratorium on development around light rail station areas

The Brooklyn Park City Council heard the first reading of an interim ordinance that would adopt a moratorium on development around the city’s five planned light rail station areas June 12. If adopted, the moratorium would last for one year, unless the council approved rescinding it early.
The intent of the moratorium is to give the city time to conduct a planning study for the station areas.
“You might recall that last year we completed the study of the station area plans, and we came up with a design for those plans,” said Cindy Sherman, planning director. “What the moratorium is intended to allow us to do is create the rules and regulations to implement those plans.”
Sherman said that station areas still have the same zoning that has been in place for some time. The study will allow the city to “look at different rules and regulations perhaps, or rules and regulations that will help us better build out the station areas,” she said.
Zoning areas and the city’s comprehensive plan could be amended as a result of the study. The study would be conducted as quickly as possible, according to Sherman, and the moratorium could be rescinded as soon as the study is completed.
The moratorium area would expand to a half-mile radius around each station area.
Projects that have already been approved for construction would not be impacted by the ban. Vacant land that does not have approved development plans in place would be impacted. Under the ordinance’s current language, existing businesses would still be allowed to expand up to 10 percent of their footprint, but some ordinance language still needs further clarification on the matter, Sherman said. Expansion that would be subject to a planning application would not be allowed.
Mayor Jeff Lunde said he supported the moratorium, because it is important to ensure proper land use around the station areas with the first round of developments on the surrounding vacant land.
“One of the things that I’ve learned from other cities during the rail planning process was … making sure you get this done once, and I think that this will be what we have been consistently doing throughout this whole process,” he said. “I think this is prudent planning on behalf of the city.”
Councilmember Susan Pha said she was concerned that such a moratorium might slow development around the light rail line. “Although I’m concerned about stalling development opportunities or delaying some of those opportunities, that to me is not as concerning as making sure that the current businesses that are in that area … [are] not negatively impacted,” she said.
Peter Coyle, a representative for developer Iron Point Partners, spoke in opposition of the moratorium.
“I have to say that, I just feel this is really unfair to the property owners and to the business owners,” Coyle said.
Iron Point is interested in developing a self-service storage facility at a site on Louisiana Avenue, south of Highway 610, but has not submitted an application to the city.
Coyle said Iron Point should be exempt from the moratorium.
Sherman said the city has had two meetings with Iron Point, one in April 2017 and one approximately a week from the June 12 council meeting. Staff indicated that a self-service storage facility on that site would not be an appropriate use, Sherman said.