The Wayzata Planning Commission weighed the appropriateness of rental property versus owner occupied housing while evaluating the latest development proposal by IOCP at their old headquarters on Grand.
The Planning Commission chose to not approve a recommendation for a PUD, shore-land plan approval, a zoning amendment to change the zoning, and a Comprehensive Plan amendment, primarily because the proposal did not accomplish the goals set forth by a 2010 Affordable Housing Task Force policy adopted by the City.
|Steve Bohl of IOCP argues his case for rental property before the Wayzata Planning Commission.|
The Affordable Housing Task Force was put together by Mayor Willcox and the Wayzata City Council in 2009. This Task Force studied the issue of affordable housing, and then made a recommendation to the Council indicating the rental housing stock within the City meets the Metropolitan Council's guidelines. The policy further stated developers within the City of Wayzata need to focus on providing owner occupied affordable housing and listed a preference of single family, townhomes, and condos.
Planning Commission indicates sufficient rental units available
Planning Commissioner Lynn Gruber raised the question, "I received a number of calls over the weekend that indicated that [the Planning Commission] had not read the Wayzata Affordable Housing Task Force Report, and bottom line is that we have sufficient rental units. What we should be looking for is housing units available for purchase." Gruber continued, "I think we need to take this into consideration."
The City Council had previously adopted the Affordable Housing Task Force Report in 2010, according to City Planner Bryan Gadow, "The report serves as a policy statement, giving guidance to the City, developers and citizens on the preference for [owner occupied] affordable housing in the City of Wayzata."
Commissioner Rufus Winton stated, "We are not here to just discuss design tonight, but as part of the general plan we can talk about... appropriateness." Winton summarized the report prior to the discussion by the board, indicating that it does not supersede City Code or the Comprehensive Plan, but that, "The report indicates that the focus of the City should be on owner occupied affordable housing."
IOCP defends the project
Steve Bohl from Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners answered questions, "I did spend some time looking through the Affordable Housing Task Force Report, and I have seen it before."
Bohl continued, "Our original request was to bring this forward as the best use for the site, and to determine whether residential use, or if commercial use is the best use, or what best fits on this site. I think we have presented that and received favorable comments about that idea. Our intention wasn't to put the issue of affordability as the primary focus, although that is our primary concern for how we can provide housing to the community. I don't know if that is the most important issue--how much people are going to spend to live in this type of unit. I would hope we can look more at how this particular proposal fits into the site."
Task Force Policy in favor of owner occupied housing
During the open forum a number of citizens spoke in favor of the project being owner occupied style as opposed to rental units: Jim Wilson, Affordable Housing Task Force Chair David McGill, Council Member Tom Tanner, as well as Task Force Member Sandy Maclean, and Roger Wothe who also served on the Task Force.
Planning Commission Unaware, disappointed
Merrily Babcock indicated that the Planning Commission was unaware of the policy, "I knew nothing about this. I know we have a lot of multi-family in this town. Once the Bay Center gets put in we are going to have a lot more multi-family in our small town."
Ultimately the Planning Commission recommended a denial for the application, and the issue will come before the City Council. Regardless, IOCP will have options as the site is commercially zoned. The building could be rented as is to generate cash flow to support IOCP's mission, redeveloped commercially, or the property could be sold.
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