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Newsletter > March 2017 > "Minneapolis Proposed Zoning Changes to Embrace Greek Growth"
Minneapolis Proposed Zoning Changes to Embrace Greek Growth
Amy Hebbeler, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
In light of some cities making it more difficult for fraternities and sororities to have fraternity houses, especially after the fraternity or sorority has lost recognition by a college or university, one city has made movement towards making zoning more friendly to sororities and fraternities. The Minneapolis City Planning Commission approved changes to the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances Zoning Code on March 6, 2017 to make it easier for fraternities and sororities to build or modify their fraternity and sorority houses.’ The City Planning Commission’s Staff Report stated, “tile amendment is intended to allow for greater flexibility in the establishment, alteration, expansion and regulation of fraternities and sororities in the city of Minneapolis.”2 The Report justified the amendment by showing the growth of Greek membership at the University of Minnesota and the need for adequate housing to accommodate that continuous expansion.3
The current Minneapolis zoning regulations regarding fraternities and sororities are quite restrictive. The President of the Minnesota Greek Alumni Council said these current restrictions “are the result of a 1999 ordinance aimed at stopping communal housing.”4 Some of those current restrictions include: minimum square footage of lot area and lot width, height regulations, and “new fraternity and sorority uses can only be established on zoning lots which were previously used as a fraternity, sorority, or rooming house.5”
The amended ordinance would ease these restrictions and burdens on fraternities and sororities. It would remove the requirement that the fraternity or sorority be located on a lot previously used as a fraternity, sorority, or rooming house and would allow for more than 32 persons to live in the house and use the house services and allow those services to be used by all members or guests.6 Further, the amendments will “Revise the ordinance to be similar to building bulk requirements for Community Residential Facility by:
- Reducing the minimum lot area from 10,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet
- Reducing minimum lot width from 80 feet to 40 feet
- Increasing the maximum height from 2.5 stories, 35 feet to 4 stories, 56 feet”7
Additionally, the neighbors in the areas surrounding the University of Minnesota seem to be supportive of the expansion of fraternity and sorority houses.8 “Fraternities and sororities have been ‘a stabilizing force’ on that side of the neighborhood, [Doug Carlson, neighborhood association treasurer] said, maintaining their properties and receiving more intense supervision than other off-campus housing in the area.”9 The University of Minnesota also has supported the zoning change.10 However, the City Council still has to vote to approve the Ordinance amendment, which some have said may be as early as March 24, 2017.11 In a time where zoning has been used as a device to limit and contain fraternity and sorority houses, these ordinance changes show hope of fraternities and sororities, neighborhoods, and universities coming together to provide students with housing options to benefit all.
- Emma Nelson, “Minneapolis may ease zoning to allow for more fraternities and sororities near the University of Minnesota Campus,” Star Tribune (March 7, 2017) http://www.startribune.com/ minneapolis-may-allow-for-more-fraternities-sororities-near university-of-minnesota-campus/415617174/: See also Minneapolis City Planning Commission, “Regular Meeting Actions: March 6, 2017,” (March 6, 2017) http://www.ci.minneapolis.rnn.us/ meetings/planning/WCMSP-195222.
- Peter Crandall, “CPED Staff Report: CPC Agenda Item #9,” City Planning Commission (March 6, 2017), Pg. 2 htlQ;..(L ww w.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@cped/ documents/webcontent/wcmsp-194871,pdf.
- Mike Hendrickson, “Minneapolis Officials Push to Relax Housing Codes for UMN Greek Life,” Minnesota Daily (February 15, 2017) http://www.mndaily.com/a rticle /2017/ 02 /regulations-couldrelax-for-greek-housing.
- Peter Crandall, “CPED Staff Report,” (March 6, 2017) Pg. 2.
- Id. at 6.
- Id. at 2.
- Emma Nelson, “Minneapolis may ease zoning to allow for more fraternities and sororities near the University of Minnesota Campus,” (March 7, 2017).
- Mike Hendrickson, “Minneapolis Officials Push to Relax Housing Codes for UMN Greek Life,” Minnesota Daily (February 15, 2017).