Another Edina Developer's Variance?

Initial_Edina_Cleaners_proposal_view_2.jpgOn Tuesday, May 5, the Edina City Council held a meeting that included a proposal to allow expansion of a proposed restaurant from 35 to 100 seats. The expansion would add additional traffic and parking concerns in the neighborhood at Sunnyside and France (former Edina Cleaners).

19 individuals spoke during the hearing—4 in favor of the variance and 15 against. No one successfully explained why the city should change the deal the developer had agreed to.

Because the community input was so good, the city council decided to allow more time for citizen input until noon 5/13. Final decisions will be made at the city council meeting at 7 pm 5/19. Contact the mayor and city council with your thoughts CityCouncil@EdinaMN.gov.

Here’s more background on the issue:

Lorient is a development that has been approved at Sunnyside and France on the site of the former Edina Cleaners. The developer received a variance to exceed the zoning in the area for a building height to create 45 housing units, some retail space and a restaurant. They also received over $2,200,000 from the city in tax increment financing (TIFF). The city received public access to 36 parking spaces. The development included a 35-seat restaurant that would also use those same parking spaces.

Recently, the developer requested a variance to expand the restaurant to 100-seats. The planning commission approved this 5-2. City staff did not support this variance due to traffic and parking concerns

To ameliorate parking concerns, the developer proposed renting 24 parking spaces at a dentist office 1 block away and a nearby location with 15-19 parking spaces. Those spaces with the 36 public access spaces in the development would meet the parking needs for a 100-seat restaurant. There were two draw backs to this plan: Would people park 1 block away and walk through a dark alley to get to the restaurant in bad weather; and the additional parking was only guaranteed for 1 year.

As mentioned above, 19 individuals spoke during the hearing—4 in favor of the variance and 15 against. Those in favor wanted a nice restaurant in the neighborhood that they could walk to. Those against had many good reasons. One said the Hello Pizza had been denied adding two seats previously and the same logic should hold here. Many said this did not conform to the small area plan that had a great deal of citizen input and the small area plan should be the standard. Traffic and parking in this area were tight before this development and a 100-seat restaurant was too much. No one successfully explained why the city should change the deal the developer had agreed to.

My interpretation is that the mayor and council wanted to support the developer, but were concerned by the amount of opposition and chose to delay the decision. Keep tuned.

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