Medina affordable housing controversy ends

Dominium withdraws town home application

The Medina City Council, Tuesday, June 3, was poised to review a proposal from Dominium for an affordable rental town home project that would have been located on property on Clydesdale Trail, north of the Medina Entertainment Center.

Then at the start of the meeting, Mayor Elizabeth Weir announced that Dominium had withdrawn its application.

“I heard about it at 2 p.m. this afternoon,” she said.

The council immediately removed from its agenda Dominium’s requests related to Medina Clydesdale Town homes, which would have consisted of 28 town homes intended for families making 60 percent of area median income ($49,740 for a family of four.) An additional four town homes would have been earmarked for families who have lacked permanent housing for over a year. Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners had planned to provide support services to these families as they worked to turn their lives around.

Dominium is a Plymouth-based owner, developer and manager of multifamily properties nationwide. The company was awarded two significant financial incentives to help its property managers keep down the cost of rent at Medina Clydesdale Townhomes. One incentive was a $189,000 Community Development Block Grant. The other was federal tax credits allotted by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

Neither Weir nor city staff gave a reason for the withdrawal of Dominium’s application. However, Medina resident Lorie Cousineau provided a clue later in the meeting. She presented to Mayor Weir a 39-page petition containing 392 signatures of people opposing the project.

Cousineau thanked the mayor and council “for the last few weeks for all that we put you through. I’m sure this has been a very long and arduous process. We appreciate your patience in talking with us and emails and phone calls and what not. I got very friendly, helpful responses.”

She continued: “This process brought our community together in ways I don’t think anyone foresaw. As hard as it has been for you, it has been a great process for the residents.”

City Administrator Scott Johnson placed the residents’ petition into the public record.

After the meeting he said that Dominium had given no reason for withdrawing the application. Dominium did not answer this newspaper’s requests for information by press time.

Weir had not heard from Dominium about reasons for the withdrawal, but she was able to put the issue into perspective. She referred to what happened at two town hall meetings devoted to the affordable town home proposal. The City Council held the meetings to collect public feedback. Weir had seen 10-12 emails favoring the project, but at the town hall meetings “a whole roomful” of people were against the proposal.

“There was a lot of resistance to this development,” Weir said. The council had to strike a balance between following Medina’s zoning regulations and representing the residents.

This was a proposal for a quality development that lost support because of residents’ concerns, she said. People had issues with the site.

“The strengths of Dominium’s proposal also were its weaknesses,” Weir said. The town homes would have been near jobs, such as Caribou Coffee and Target. But there would have been no place for older children to play. The nearest parks are located on the other side of major roadways, which would have been dangerous for kids to cross. Residents also were concerned about the town homes being situated across the road from the Medina Entertainment Center.

Weir said she had visited the Albertville Meadows Townhomes, a comparable Dominium project. She walked through it unannounced and liked what she saw.

“I could have lived there,” she said. “I am sad it (the Medina project) went away. It was an opportunity for workforce housing.”

Medina offered a comment card that residents could submit either at the town hall meetings or by mail. Submitted comments and emails were included in the council’s information packet for the June 3 meeting. Residents were divided on the issue.

One anonymous writer said, “Go for it! As long as the affordables are vetted. They all deserve a chance. Look in the mirror and visualize yourself in that hardship.”

Another writer disagreed and said, “NO. NO. NO. NO, Enough already! The reason we live ‘out here’ is not to deal with affordable housing, etc. Please keep Medina neat, clean, spacious and beautiful. What next — drug rehab and halfway houses? Please protect our property values as well.”

 

COUNCIL ACTIONS

On June 3, the City Council:

DIRECTED city staff to draft a resolution approving the site plan for construction of a 4,000-square-foot storage building and 23 additional parking stalls on Loram Maintenance of Way property at 3900 Arrowhead Drive.

APPROVED liquor license renewals for Medina Recreations restaurant, Medina Golf and Country Club, Inn Kahoots, Baker National Golf Course, North American Liquors, Liquor Depot and Jensen and Sons Inc.

APPROVED a proposal for purchasing playground equipment for the Park at Fields of Medina at a cost of $123,025. Landscape Structures, of Delano, is the equipment manufacturer.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at susan.vancleaf@ecm-inc.com

 

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