You are on page 1of 8

Draft Minutes - SNG Community Development Committee

September 14, 2010

Present: Charlie Hoffman (Committee Chair), Sheldon Mains (SNG Board President), Gene and Mary
Davis, Sue Kolstad, Tal Anderson, Robin Garwood of Cam Gordon’s office, Bob Hain, Peter Fleck, Ramona
Bolton, Monique Mackenzie, Randy Newberg, Rob and Mark Michals (Ridge Construction), Susan
Hoffman, Pat Rosaves, John Slack, Gabriel Cheifetz and Rachel Widome, Navid Mohseni, Beverly Warmke
(Minneapolis Public Works), Mark Sulander, Emily Ojana, Tom Keiser, Mary Mateer, Patricia Keithan,
Robert Craig, Don Barton, Chuck Levin, Liza Lawrence, Connie Lane, Bruce Johansen, Ann Risch, Doug
Wise (SNG Housing Program Coordinator), Brian Miller and Katya Pilling of Seward Redesign, and Bernie
Waibel (minutes).

Introductions were made and minutes of the July meeting were approved with one change (there was no
meeting in August).

Tom Keiser objected to the phrase in the July minutes concerning the Birchwood: “Tracy Singleton, owner
of the Birchwood Café related that she’ll be removing her house at the SE corner of E. 25th Street and 33rd
Avenue and expanding the Café onto the former house site.” Tom stated that this phrasing is too assertive
and assumes too much -the text should be changed to reflect that this is only Tracy’s “hopes and dreams”.
Neighborhood opposition and other hurdles must be overcome before the Birchwood can expand. (Please
see Tom’s full statement at the end of these minutes).

Tom averred that there were misleading factual statements made at the meeting and that he wished to have
them corrected. Sheldon and Charlie said that misstatements may have been made but that the minutes
correctly describe what had been said. It was not the function of this meeting to attempt to correct those
statements –a later meeting about the Birchwood would provide a venue to record ‘correct’ statements.

Bob H. moved approval subject to the change in text, which will now read “Tracy Singleton, owner of the
Birchwood Café related that she wishes to remove her house at the SE corner of E. 25th Street and 33rd
Avenue and expand the Café onto the former house site.”

Charlie introduced Doug Wise who was hired last month to help implement the Seward Neighborhood NRP
Phase II Housing Program. Doug has extensive experience in the area of housing finance. His duties will
include publicizing the program; directing Seward residents to Center for Energy and the Environment to
sign contracts, and aiding residents in prioritizing needed repairs and finding competent contractors. Doug’s
office hours will be 1:30-5 p.m., M-Th. He can be reached at 612 338 6205, Ext. 102 or at doug@sng.org

Tal Anderson reported with help from Bruce Johansen that had they come to the Committee several months
earlier, they would have had only bad news about garbage in the street and on the sidewalks on 21st Avenue;
noise at closing time; public urination, etc. Over the last several months however, City Council member
Cam Gordon has invited Blue Nile owner Fahmi Kataby and his manager to talk with near neighbors about
the situation, and improvements have been noticed.

Tal and his neighbors in the townhomes to the south of the Blue Nile are hopeful that Fahmi and his manager
can be proactive in preventing problems and actually quelling them as they arise. Previously under the eyes
of off-duty Minneapolis police officers, situations were allowed to escalate to the point where the officers
could then make an arrest. Now, bad behaviors aren’t allowed to reach that point. Tal thanked Cam as well
1
as Jim Welna (Seward Civic and Commerce Association (SCCA) President) who attended a couple of the
meetings.

Motion: Moved that SNG write a letter thanking the Blue Nile, Cam Gordon, Jim Welna and others
for working cooperatively to address noise and behavior problems at the Blue Nile. Sheldon moved
and Don seconded. Passed unanimously with Robin abstaining.

Tal will do a first draft and submit same to Sheldon or Charlie Hoffman for approval.

Beverly Warmka of City Public Works said that she’d already visited with the East Phillips and Ventura
Village neighborhoods about the status of the Franklin Ave (Bloomington to 21st) streetscape and the
22nd St (Minnehaha to Cedar) Realignment Project. Beverly said that she wanted to give an overview;
gather feedback, and ask for volunteers for a task force to guide some of the decisions that will be made
along the way.

The full amount of funding needed for the improvements is not available so the two projects must be done
piecemeal. The good news is that funding for the $3.2M cost for both projects is in hand for immediate use
(several sources: $1.8M from a Federal grant, $77K from assessments and $660K in grants from bond
funding and MSA dollars).

Beverly referred to the 2009 Traffic Analysis and said that repairs will be made which will make the
intersection at Franklin/Cedar/Minnehaha easier to negotiate by vehicle and on foot. About $1M of the $3.2
will be used to make specific improvements for pedestrians such as narrowing of intersections to shorten the
distance needed to cross, better lighting and new landscaping.

The City wishes to lock in 30% of the plan by the end of October and 100% of the plan by the end of the
year so that bidding can occur in the spring of 2011. Public input is needed on various details of the plan as
it’s finalized so Beverly invited attendees to sign on to a task force for two or three meetings. A sign-up
sheet was passed around and several individuals did sign on to serve.

The 22nd Street realignment project involves connecting Minnehaha Avenue to Cedar Avenue via a new
section of E. 22nd. Street. Beverly said that traffic proceeding west on 22nd Street at Cedar will not be
allowed to turn south on Cedar so 22nd Street will not have the status of a true truck route -the median will
remain on Cedar Ave. Therefore, Minnehaha north of 22nd Street will not be closed to truck traffic though
traffic speed will be dampened with narrowing of intersections.

Beverly was careful to state that all measures that will be emplaced will not prevent a future closure of
Minnehaha north of E. 22nd. Street. The neighborhood’s plan is to close Minnehaha or downgrade it
drastically to make the Cedar/Franklin/Minnehaha intersection more of a traditional and safer, simple
cruciform.

There was a discussion about resurfacing the section of Minnehaha between 24th and 26th Streets –can this be
part of the project? There isn’t enough funding but the process can be started by calling 311. The fact that
Minnehaha is a County highway is a bit of a complication.

The new section of East 22nd Street will not be built over the triangle of parkland that belongs to the Heltzer
highrise at the junction of 21st Avenue and Minnehaha. There will be a pedestrian connection between Cedar
and points east, probably following close to 22nd Street.

2
Katya then addressed the group and detailed a list of recommendations from the neighborhood based,
Franklin Planning Implementation Task Force concerning the Cedar and Minnehaha connection:

----------

The following is a list of recommendations by the committee regarding the City’s draft plans for 22nd Street,
as presented on 9-8-2010.

This project is important because it creates potential for future improvements to Franklin Avenue that
will improve pedestrian connects to the LRT station area.

Plans need to create a more obvious connection between the neighborhood and the LRT trail. The
community expects a ped/bike facility or multi-use path that connects from Minnehaha and 22nd through
the Seward Commons site to the LRT path.

The committee encourages staff to look into the potential to square off the intersection more where 22nd
and Minnehaha meet.

Consider improvements to Minnehaha intersection. i.e. Bump outs at Minnehaha would be desirable.

City is looking for volunteers to serve on a task force for 2-3 meetings. Interest has been expressed by
the following members of the Franklin Planning Implementation Task Force: Sheldon Mains, Bob Hain,
Jim Welna, Bruce Johansen

Additional comments from the SNG CDC meeting 9-14-10:


o Interest in resurfacing Minnehaha from 22nd Street to 24th Street
o Interest in changes to apply traffic calming techniques at 21st Avenue and Minnehaha

----------------------------------

Bob added that the list of recommendations should include the Committee’s recommendation of a bike trail
between Minnehaha and the LRT Trail. Currently, the Committee is waiting for suggestions from Public
Works.

Charlie announced that because there was a conflict of interest in discussion of the setback variance for a
new house at 2535 38th Avenue South, Sheldon would chair this part of the meeting. Charlie’s wife Susan
was the realtor involved in the sale of the lot.

Don Barton described how he and partner Howie O'Neill are selling the north part of their large lot on 38th
Avenue to create a new lot of over 6,500 s.f.. The existing garage will be part of that new lot. Don said that
this northern lot was added to the southern part of his and Howie’s lot in 1951 so in effect, the situation is
reverting to that of fifty years previous.

Ridge Construction has come forward with an attractive plan for a two-story, 2,200 s.f. Arts and Crafts styled
home which will be oriented to 38th Avenue. Because of the lot size and the required setbacks at both the
rear of the house and the front (25’), the planned house would be smaller than the minimum, City required
22’ without a setback variance at the front. Don, Howie and the builders will ask City Zoning to reduce the
required front setback from the required 25’ to 23.5’, a reduction of 1.5 ft. Don stated that without the
requested setback at the front, the house simply can’t be built – the arithmetic of the two setbacks and the
3
required width of the house prevent it. A further argument in favor of a variance is that the other houses on
the block have 23' setbacks so the entire block will look better with uniform setbacks.

Neighbor Mark Sulander complained about the lack of process and said that he and his neighbors had had
little notice of the plans to build the house (editor’s note: flyers announcing the setback discussion were
delivered to neighboring homes on Saturday in anticipation of the Tuesday meeting). Mark lives across the
street from the planned house and said that he probably would not have bought his house had he known that
the lot was buildable. Mark said that the house was too large and not suitable for the neighborhood.

A speaker stated that the issue before the Committee was solely the setback of 1.5’ and not the fact that a
house was planned for the site.

Mark described the planned house as a ‘McMansion’ and asked why neighbors, those most affected by the
project, weren’t allowed to comment about it. He went on to talk about the 2007 City ordinance outlawing
McMansions but the Chair cut him off by stating flatly that the proposed house meets City code and did not
qualify under the definition of the 2007 code as too large a home for the lot –he sat on the Planning Board
when these guidelines were created.

Mark referred to a finished rendering of the house as showing a 2 ½ story house, when one of the builders
had said to him that they were thinking of building a one or 1 ½ story house –why the deception? (Editor’s
note: the rendering does in fact show an attractive, Arts and Craft styled, two story house without living
space in the attic. The rendering shows a roof ridge that is actually lower than normal for a two-story home-
the roof sits lower on the house because the eaves return to the house just above the windows in typical Arts
and Crafts style.).

A speaker said that the Zoning Board of Appeals takes neighborhood input seriously but in this case, would
probably grant the variance because the rest of the homes on the block do in fact have a 23’ setback from the
front property line. The City will notify residents of the October 7th Zoning hearing by notifying all
neighbors within a 350’ radius, fifteen days prior to the hearing.

Mark suggested that the Committee approve the setback contingent upon a successful meeting between the
builders, the property sellers and concerned neighbors. Again, a speaker pointed out that the issue before the
Committee was just the setback and no neighbor, however impassioned, had the right or authority to override
a legitimate, code compliant house construction project. Another speaker stated that the setback issue
shouldn’t be used to open complaints about other facets of the project.

Motion: Moved that SNG support the request of the owner and builder of a new house at 2535 38th
Avenue South for a setback variance of 1.5’; from 25 ft. down to 23.5 ft.. Bob moved and Monique
seconded. Passed with twenty or more yeas, 3 nays and two abstentions (including Robin).

A speaker testily stated that because Mark and his baseless complaints had used up the twenty minutes of
time allotted for the topic, Committee members hadn't gotten a chance to see the floor plans and elevations
that the builders had brought with them to the meeting.

Katya reported that in addition to helping plan the connection between Minnehaha and Cedar, the Franklin
Planning Implementation Task Force has been involved in examining transportation and safety in other
areas: the Riverside Avenue reconstruction, Franklin LRT Station Area Improvements and a Bike

4
Master Plan for the community. Both the SNG and Redesign Boards of Directors approved the creation of
the Franklin Planning effort in 2008 and the formation at that time of the Implementation Task Force.

Katya noted that Riverside will be a full reconstruction project. There was a discussion about the desirability
of closing the Riverside ramps onto/from the freeway at the same time that the freeway is closed for
impending work.

Motion: Moved that SNG approve the Riverside Avenue Reconstruction Plan and to thank
Councilmember Cam Gordon for his involvement in coordinating discussion between the
neighborhoods of Seward and the West Bank. Sheldon moved and Bob seconded. Passed
unanimously. Robin abstained.

Please see Katya’s report about Riverside Avenue and the recommendations of the Task Force below.

-----------------------

Katya reported that the concept of a ‘bike boulevard’ was recommended by the Task Force for both 29th
Avenue and 24th Street. Katya said that a bike boulevard doesn’t prevent the movement of vehicles nor
prevent their parking on the street. It does slow vehicular traffic by means of throating intersections and
other speed controls such as bumps or traffic circles.

There was a discussion about putting a bike lane through Matthews Park. The ‘fix’ is to slow bike traffic and
do away with the free-for-all that now exists. Charlie summarized the discussion saying that a 24th Street
Bike Boulevard must take into account the safety of pedestrians and children.

Motion: Moved that SNG approve the Bike Master Plan. Bob moved and Peter seconded. Passed
unanimously, Robin abstained.

-----------------

Bike Master Plan

The following is a list of recommendations by the committee regarding the City of Minneapolis Bike Master
Plan. Copies of the draft plans and more information about the City’s process can be found at the project
website: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/bicycles/bicycle-plans.asp

Bike Boulevard on 29th Avenue


o Will tie to the Greenway, Franklin, Riverside, etc – this is an essential connector for the
community and the City.
o Was stated in the Greenway Plan

“Cycle Tracks” are an existing condition on 1st Avenue North (although there remains some debate over
the definition)

Ch 4, Goals and Objectives


o Does not include “continuous routes” – we would like to see more emphasis on this as an
objective by calling it out in this section.

24th Street – Bike Lanes and/or Bike Boulevard is desirable

5
o Include improvements at Matthews Center (to serve the needs of bikes while maintaining a
high level of safety for kids and other pedestrians in the park) and 35 Bridge.
o Essential connector across town and at a mid-way point between Franklin and the Greenway.

------------------------------

Katya reported that the bus shelter in front of the True Thai restaurant had been finally removed due to the
many complaints about its condition and the fact that there isn’t enough room for it on the sidewalk.

Robin reported that Bethany Lutheran had requested removal of one-hour parking on Franklin between
26th and 25th Avenues. The one-hour parking is posted only on the south side between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Bethany reported that a couple of its visitors have been ticketed. Robin said that the parking restriction was
instituted in 1951.

Brian suggested that parking on Franklin in its entirety should be examined and approached in a rational
manner –not piecemeal. Another speaker said that leaving the signs up for a few more months wouldn’t be
overly onerous given that they’ve been up for sixty years already.

John Slack, architectural consultant to Redesign on the Seward Commons project (the old Bystrom Bros.
site) reported that Redesign had applied to the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO)
for grant funding to improve stormwater disposal between the LRT and Snelling on 24th Street at the
proposed Touchstone residence project.

Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Riverside Avenue Reconstruction

The following is a list of recommendations by the committee regarding plans for the reconstruction of
Riverside Avenue. These comments are specific to the draft plans dated 8-24-2010.

Copies of draft plans and more information about the City’s process can be found at the project website:
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/public-works/cip/riverside/

Compliments to the City on several aspects of the plan, including:


o East Side of Riverside/9th intersection is vastly improved.
o Bike lanes that are not shared with any driving lanes and continue the full length of Riverside.
This is a major improvement over the initial plans and are needed for the amount of bike traffic
on Riverside

We would like to work with you to get the participation from MNDot in order to achieve the following
goals:
o Improve 9th /27th Ave and Riverside ped crossings on the west side of the intersection
o The storage lane for the right turn to I 94 from West bound Riverside seems to be longer than
needed. Some parking could be added here.
o 94W and Butler
6
-Is a dedicated Right turn really needed? Very few cars make this turn.
-Why is the storage lane needed? There are VERY few cars that turn from Riverside to
Butler. Eliminating the storage lane could allow the addition of significant parking.
-Opportunities to change to a boulevard?
o 94W ramp – how to make the pedestrian crossing safer, i.e. no turn on red?
o Must maintain Left turn onto Riverside from W94 exit. Also, with a slight modification to the
curb extending from the bridge, the left turn could be made easier.

Lighting – should be night sky friendly

Medians – trees and plantings whenever possible

Striping and Signage Plans


o How to have opportunities for the community to weigh in on these plans as they develop?
o Use as many tools as possible to slow car speeds and create safe crossing of Riverside Avenue
and safe left turns for bikes.

Riverside/Franklin
o Plans do not do enough to improve the situation of pedestrians and bikes.
o Community is strongly in favor of a Left turn from East bound Franklin onto Riverside. This
has been discussed directly with staff but does not yet show up on plans.
o Still need to improve the bike conditions at Franklin and Riverside

Bike lanes should be a different color or different pavement than the moterized traffic and parking lanes.

Katya's report also included:

Franklin LRT Station Area Improvements

The following is a list of recommendations by the committee regarding the City’s draft plans for Franklin
Avenue Station Area Improvements, as presented on 9-8-2010.

Encourage City staff to get more information from the County about timing for reconstruction on
Franklin or other opportunities to partner on this project. Plans as presented keep all improvements to
within the existing curb line.

Encourage City staff to have discussions with Metro Transit to explore the potential to change any
locations to improve usage.

Memo to CDC staff from Tom Keiser regarding July CDC minutes.

I have a concern about the wording of the minutes from the last CDC meeting concerning Tracy Singleton's
proposed plans for future expansion of the Birchwood. I would feel more comfortable if the minutes
reflected her "desire" or "proposals" to expand her restaurant. Your minutes indicate "she'll be moving....
and expanding..."
7
These are her hopes and dreams, not a done deal. As her closest neighbor I was just informed about her
plans in a meeting with Tracy and my wife over Labor Day weekend. As I see it, there are a few rather large
hurdles for Tracy and the Birchwood to clear before the expansion takes place. I believe your minutes do not
reflect this. It is not a "done deal." Some of us in the neighborhood have serious concerns about the
proposed zoning changes. For the Birchwood to expand as her plans show and there be no additional
parking seems absolutely ridiculous!

The Birchwood got their first variance with talk about "foot traffic" and walk up customers. That's hardly
the current situation. I believe it would be irresponsible for the city to grant the required zoning changes.
This is not a commercial neighborhood. The current variance allows her delivery trucks to back into the
alley (beep beep beep) and then leave their trucks idling while unloading at 6:00 am each morning. Across
the street, at my house, workmen are not allowed to begin their work until 8:00. Please consider rewording
your minutes. I'll try to attend the upcoming meeting but may not be able to be there.

Tom Keiser, ESL Teacher


Seward Montessori 612.668.4950
Voicemail 612.692.1152