New zones might be applied more broadly

April 10, 2019

A proposed map for new zoning options surrounding Rochester’s primary transit corridors heading into downtown will need more discussion.

“I’d like to make sure we are all comfortable,” Rochester City Council Member Nick Campion said Monday, noting he has lingering questions related to the map.

The council will revisit the proposed map next week with plans to add two transit-oriented nodes and fill some gaps for the new residential zone.

The new zoning options — Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Residential 2x (R2x) zones — are meant to encourage greater housing density and commercial development by offering more flexibility for developers and property owners.

Council Member Michael Wojcik said the current map proposal may not go far enough. He pointed to properties along the south side of Second Street Southwest between Mayo Clinic and Saint Marys Hospital, as well as a portion of the Kutzky Park Neighborhood, as areas that might also be considered for the new residential zoning classification.

“I do think there are many areas in this community that could benefit from R2x that are not currently considered at all,” he said, suggesting future map changes could be considered.

Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department Planning, Analysis and Policy Division Supervisor Jeff Ellerbusch said the map proposal was rooted in the city’s newly adopted comprehensive plan.

“Expansion was never a discussion of the comprehensive plan,” he said, noting the plan calls for maintaining zoning in neighborhoods when possible.

Ryan Yetzer, a planning department planner, said what was included was based on the walkability to Mayo Clinic’s downtown campus, rather than Saint Marys Hospital. The result, he said, left out some areas near the hospital.

In some areas, Ellerbusch said, the map was drawn broader than normal, because the new residential zone will offer a mixture of land uses and is expected to maintain an overall low-density character.

However, he said, now would be a good time to add any properties for consideration, since the process for adopting a zoning map doesn’t allow for new properties to be added once it starts.

“If you initiate a larger area and decide you don’t want to zone it all, you can do that, but you can’t add things that haven’t been identified to the public during the process,” he told the council.

The City Council is expected to be asked to start the official process as early as April 15. At that point, a public hearing will be scheduled with the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, followed by a council hearing.

The process is likely to take at least two months, but any developments started once the process starts will be considered based on the new maps.

With a desire to ask more questions and make potential changes, council members will review the maps again during their informal meeting next week, before potentially voting at the regular council meeting,