Changing Zoning – What the council must consider

A question I receive often is “What goes into deciding if an area gets rezoned?”  This most recently came up regarding the Fox Hill Villas project.  I often remind people that the city council does not get to arbitrarily decide if a zone change is OK or not.  Rather we must weigh the request against the legal criteria below.

We as a city council must wait until after a public hearing to decide whether the criteria has been met.  Here is the criteria for deciding if we can change zones:

Policy for Rezoning:  Subdivision 1.  The Commission shall recommend for approval, and the Council shall approve, a request to amend the zoning map or the text of the zoning ordinance if the amendment satisfies the criteria provided in this section:
Subd. 2.        The criteria of this subdivision apply to those amendments to the zoning map filed by formal petition.  An amendment need only satisfy one of the following criteria:
A.the area, as presently zoned, is inconsistent with the policies and goals of the Comprehensive Plan;
B.the area was originally zoned erroneously due to a technical or administrative error;
C.while both the present and proposed zoning districts are consistent with the Plan, the proposed district better furthers the policies and goals of the Comprehensive Plan as found in Chapters 2 and 3 of the Rochester Urban Service Area Land Use Plan, Chapter 3 of the Housing Plan, and Chapter 10 of the ROCOG Long Range Transportation Plan; or
D.The area has changed or is changing to such a degree that it is in the public interest to rezone so as to encourage development or redevelopment of the area.
E.The area includes lands identified as Decorah Edge in accordance with Chapter 59 and application of the site capacity calculation pursuant to Section 61.531 would provide for beneficial development that maintains typical urban density while preserving habitat and protecting processes that maintain groundwater quality and quantity.
Subd. 3.        The criteria of this subdivision also apply to those amendments to the zoning map filed by formal petition.  However, an amendment must satisfy all of the following criteria:
A.the permitted uses  allowed within the proposed zoning district will be appropriate on the subject property and compatible with adjacent properties and the neighborhood; and
B.the proposed amendment does not involve spot zoning.  (Spot Zoning involves the classification of a single lot or several small lots to a district which is different than that assigned to surrounding properties, for reasons inconsistent with the proposes set forth in this ordinance, the state enabling legislation, or the decisions of courts in this state.)

In the case of Orchard Hill Villas we  found that:

The area includes lands identified as Decorah Edge in accordance with Chapter 59 and application of the site capacity calculation pursuant to Section 61.531 would provide for beneficial development that maintains typical urban density while preserving habitat and protecting processes that maintain groundwater quality and quantity.  (This was a no brainer)

and

The permitted uses  allowed within the proposed zoning district will be appropriate on the subject property and compatible with adjacent properties and the neighborhood; (Singly Family Low Density Residential was consistent with Single Family Low Density Residential)

and

The proposed amendment does not involve spot zoning.  (Spot Zoning involves the classification of a single lot or several small lots to a district which is different than that assigned to surrounding properties, for reasons inconsistent with the proposes set forth in this ordinance, the state enabling legislation, or the decisions of courts in this state.)  (This site was several acres so spot zoning was never an issue.)

Orchard Hill Villas has become a tremendous success.  Property values are significantly higher than surrounding areas both in terms of per square foot of home and per acre values.

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