McMansions Are Forever! Edina City Council to Vote on Construction Moratorium

by Alex Stenback on December 4, 2007

"The builders can come in and change our neigborhood from an old, charming, quaint neighborhood to something that looks like Blaine or Eagan"
                                   ~Edina Homeowner on YouTube Video
Heaven forbid.

If you are into emotionally overwrought Edina home owners acting as if they are defending the one true faith and bureaucratic procedural debates over zoning minutiae, all set against the backdrop of developers protecting their grubstake, you are in all kinds of luck.  That’s because tonight, the Edina City Council puts to a vote new anti-massing/monster house ordinances, and you can watch it online here. Live! at 7PM.

For the uninitiated, Edina (one of the priciest locales in the metro area) is what passes for a posh zipcode in the Twin Cities.  They also have a problem – aging housing stock sitting on coveted dirt.

You know how it goes from here:  Many Edina homebuyers don’t necessarily want shell out $700,000 for an 1800 square foot rambler with shag carpet, mirrored walls, and handrails in the bathroom, so they simply hire a builder, scrape the original home and build a new one.  Sometimes these builders are doing the buying, and building massive "spec" homes they plan to sell.

Many existing Edina residents don’t like the new vision their neighbors and builders create.  Some go so far as to post videos about it.  The City Council wouldn’t watch it.  Builders and new residents are all like, "it’s a free country, and we are compliant with zoning ordinances."  Residents are all: "Well, we’ll change those ordinances, and raise you a moratorium on all new construction. So there."

That Edina needs, and will get, ordinances that limit the size and scope of new construction is clear and reasonable.  The moratorium, on the other hand, has really ruffled some feathers and may have a direct impact on the marketability of for-sale homes.  Like the real estate market needs more drag.

Resident Tony Giannakakis said a moratorium would hurt senior citizens like his parents, who, if they wanted to sell their house, would profit if a developer wanted their land.

"You’re handcuffing people. … That little Cape Cod you could have gotten $700,000 for, it’s worth about $400,000 with a moratorium in place," he said.

Thats great – if this passes, grandma will have to move to one of those crooked nursing homes you see on 60 minutes.

Update: The Moratorium Failed, and was not put to a vote.  Grandma is safe. Nearly four hour Video Here.
Edina May Halt Home Demolitions for Further Study [Strib]

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

dav3 December 4, 2007 at 7:58 pm

um, the moratorium isn’t indefinite, it’s just in place to buy time until the new ordinances can be defined. ordinances you seem to agree are necessary.

here’s the part where you explain how the threat of new ordinances can drive a house down 40%+ overnight. because i don’t get it. it’s not like the new ordinances will be “you can’t tear it down” or “you can only build a 2BR 1000sqft house. people will still get their dream homes, just maybe without the elevated foundation. though really, what’s a dream home without an elevated foundation.

ps – stop scaring grandma.

Editor/Alex December 4, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Dav3 –

The grandma bit was meant as a bit of sarcasm – the guy quoted by the strib is obviously in la-la land by suggesting a 40% drop.

I am skeptical in the extreme that a moratorium, especially one that only runs through April 15th will have any measurable negative impact on prices in Edina.

It’ll stop a few planned projects from going forward, which in the grand scheme of things is probably not a huge deal, except to those homeowners that planned to, you know, move into a new place. And maybe a builder that planned to feed the family from the work.

One would think that the city council could nail down a workable set of zoning standards that address this stuff without a long moratorium. Then again, if you watch the 15 minute conversation about whether or not they can watch a you tube clip (see link in original post) maybe 5-6 months isn’t enough time for this bunch.

Looking forward to the city council videos where they debate the proper dimensions of shrubery.

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