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Land Use and Zoning 

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Land Use and Zoning
Three Things to Know

  1. As a fully developed city, there is nowhere to build but up. Residential land, parks, roads, civic properties (schools, city buildings, and hospitals) account for 87% of all acres in Edina. The Plan shows 216 undeveloped and 85 “mixed use” acres. We are simply out of space - the Met Council understands this. Why are we pursuing this agenda?

  2. Shouldn’t we be saving some of our redevelopment opportunities and undeveloped land for future school expansion and other civic purpose? Our current leadership is short sighted. Its mission is to deploy every inch in pursuit of housing density.  

  3. Mixed Use is Edina’s new method to disenfranchise its residents. By broadly categorizing land areas as mixed use the city can change density with virtually no public comment.



  • Population growth. Edina has invented a population growth story to justify density.

  • Zoning Manipulation. Edina doesn’t need public notice or process to change density requirements.

  • Erosion of Trust. Edina’s failure to properly administrate zoning and permitting is damaging public trust. A Judge recently ordered the city to comply with city codes in response to a resident lawsuit. It took a lawsuit?

What is zoning?

Zoning is a technique used in land use planning to divide the city into zones with defined characteristics and regulated by city ordinance. Under MN statutes, zoning must be consistent with a city’s comp plan. In local government, the ultimate torch is the Comprehensive Plan, which guides development and redevelopment.

Source: City of Edina 


Comprehensive Plans need to accommodate forecasted growth. The greater the population forecast, the greater the housing need. In a landlocked, mostly developed city, where do you build? Up.

Nowhere to go but up.

As recently as Fall 2015, the city’s 2040 housing unit plan indicated a population level of 53,000 in keeping with our historic growth. Since then, our leadership has increased that number to 63,600.  As a fully developed city, where does our leadership intend to place 33% more people and 44% more housing units?  There is nowhere to build but up. Presciently, the sole 2008 Comp Plan amendment referenced at the City website is titled “Density.” Check out our link to Edina’s density map. Pay particularly attention to the density districts noted as MXC - Mixed Use Center.

Mixed Use abuse. City Leadership rezones to accommodate more density.

This chart demonstrates, as recently as 2017, high density residential was 30 units per acre maximum.  By creating several new zoning districts to mix residential with other commercial uses, the city dramatically increased units per acre.  Most of this was done without public comment and proper notice to affected neighborhoods. 

Why do our elected officials make these impactful, consequential, historic changes without engaging their constituents? 

Sources: City of Edina 2008 Comp Plan and 2018 Comp Plan draft

Sources: City of Edina 2008 Comp Plan and 2018 Comp Plan draft



1998, 2008, & 2018 COMP PLANS

Jim Hovland will be the only person to have voted on the last three ten year Comp Plans. The 2008 Comp Plan suggested an entirely different picture - “total population is expected to increase about 3% from 2010 to 2030”. Council Members Fischer and Staunton were also actively involved in the drafting of the 2008 Plan as members of the Planning Commission. Gentlemen, what changed?

The estelle

Jim Hovland cast the sole vote for The Estelle, a two-tower condo project: 22 and 26 stories each. If approved, this would have raised the maximum height for that corner from 4 stories (48 feet) to 26 stories (360 feet), expanding density from 30 to 60 units per acre.


Consider the 17-story Guitar Center redevelopment.  Edina, in a nasty sleight of hand, changed what should have been a “high-density residential project” at 12-30 units per acre to a “mixed use center” at 100 units per acre.  


The 50th & France Small Area Plan (SAP) is using this change to suggest a density level of 100 units per acre instead of the previous 12-30 units. For context, the new 6-story 50th/France development, Nolan Mains Apartments, was an approved exception at 67 units per acre. This was recently reduced to 75 units per acre during the approval process. Residents had pushed for 50 units per acre.

70th + Cahill Small area plan

Edina’s infatuation with density was apparent in the 70th & Cahill SAP.  The Planning Commission was pushing for an incredible 90 units per acre. This was reduced at the final approval stage to 10-50 units per acre. We’re pretty sure the 70th & Cahill community wasn’t asking for 90 units per acre.  This suggests a structural flaw in the 2018 SAP process.  

Edina’s leaders have abdicated their roles to city staff and have stopped listening to their constituents.

WE KNOW YOU'RE FRUSTRATED. There has been a 20% drop in the approval rating since 2013.

We believe Edina’s leaders have ignored their resident’s primary concerns (density + traffic). The Guitar Center project, Nolan Mains, Avidor, Edina Cleaners, and the ongoing discussions around the 7200 France Avenue redevelopment all demonstrate a free-wheeling, deal-making disregard for longstanding rules.  A city that disregards its own zoning creates unnecessary conflicts.  Respect and consistent administration of zoning is fundamental to resident trust and strong neighborhoods.  

This frustration is powerfully evident when public comment is limited to 3 minutes and prohibited during an HRA or Council meeting if the item is on the agenda. Shutting out resident concern only encourages imperious disregard for our residents, our history, and our community culture. Trust is earned not given.  

CIRCULATE. Discuss with your neighbors. ask questions. Be engaged.

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