Brooklyn Park City Council approves moratorium on development in LRT station areas

The Brooklyn Park City Council unanimously approved up to a year-long moratorium on new development in the five proposed Blue Line Bottineau Light Rail Extension project station areas at its June 26 meeting.
The moratorium was proposed by city staff members so that a planning study could be conducted. The results of the study could impact the city’s station area plan and future zoning around the station areas.
The land in a half-mile radius around each of the proposed stations would be subject to the moratorium.
Planning applications that seek to allow a new use in an existing building would be allowed in the station areas. Other work or construction within a building’s footprint would also be allowed, as would a planning application for conditional use in a building.
Language regarding development in existing structures was a concern for some council members on the first reading at the June 12 council meeting, so the ordinance language was amended upon the second reading and adoption.

A map of the land subject to the moratorium. (Submitted graphic)
A map of the land subject to the moratorium. (Submitted graphic)

“The stations are all a little bit different, they all have different uses, and so in particular, I was thinking about Brooklyn Boulevard and West Broadway, the existing shopping centers and not restricting those areas to making improvements within the existing structures,” said Cindy Sherman, planning director. “Say, for instance, if a restaurant wanted to go into a shopping center at Brooklyn Boulevard and West Broadway, they would need a conditional-use permit. We would allow that application to happen, as long as it’s within the existing structure.
Councilmember Susan Pha said that, while she was previously concerned about how such an ordinance would impact existing businesses, the revisions for the second reading took care of those issues, and she would support the moratorium.
No new land-use or zoning applications will be accepted for review in these areas until the moratorium is lifted.
Councilmember Mark Mata asked that staff notify the council if any developer approached city staff about a development proposal that would be in one of the station areas.
“If there is some applicant that comes forward to our City Hall and says, ‘I would like to do this,’ before staff just turns around and says, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, nope, go away, we have a moratorium in place.’ I’d like to know what their plan was,” he said. “As much as we put a moratorium in place, we can also remove a moratorium.”
The council could decide to remove the moratorium at any time, but would need follow a process to repeal the approved ordinance, according to Jim Thompson, city attorney.
If the planning study is completed before the year is over, the moratorium will be lifted early.
Development plans that have previously been approved in the station areas will be exempt from the moratorium. These include the 610 Commerce Center, Capstone Quadrangle, Target North Campus and Midas Station hotel projects.
The city will contract with Hennepin County to complete the study.