The City of Minneapolis is close to finalizing definitions for the land use districts that will make up its zoning code for the next decade. But these definitions do not meet the 2040 Plan’s fourth policy, which says; “Access to Commercial Goods and Services: Improve access to goods and services via walking, biking, and transit.”
Along several “Goods and Services corridors” in the city, such as Penn Ave in North Minneapolis (marked by a dotted line on the future Land use maps) the adjoining properties are designated as Urban Neighborhood. This zone only allows the existing small business to be present and does not additional parcels to change to retail use. This zoning definition would add a significant barrier to new businesses. Those who want to do that would have to make a variance request with an uncertain result. This would make accessing goods and services far more difficult in these areas in the future.
If North Minneapolis is to have any nearby goods and services, the corridors need to have permission to CREATE businesses along the goods and services corridor.
However, along Penn Ave N, Emerson, and Fremont the USE zoning is Urban Neighborhood. The verbiage in the 2040 plan says that in Urban Neighborhoods only commerce that already exists is permitted.
I don’t think that is fair to the residents who want to walk to services. These neighborhoods have suffered from historic disinvestment, which has left them without the same density of commercial uses that are enjoyed elsewhere in the city. The adoption of these zoning rules would prevent these neighborhoods from ever catching up, by locking in the existing patterns of disinvestment.
Not to mention, North Minneapolis has a higher proportion of folks dependent on transit than other neighborhoods, they should find goods and services along those routes.
One way to resolve this is to expand the definition of Urban Neighborhood to include law offices, hair salons, bookstores, corner stores, gyms, cafes, insurance offices, recruitment offices, toy stores, bike shops, daycares, and laundries.
That means more uses in more places.
Written by Elizabeth Brackett, volunteer with N4MN & resident of North Minneapolis