City To Hold Listening Session On Single Family Subdivision Ordinance

In September, the Golden Valley City Council enacted a six-month moratorium on single family residential property subdivisions until further research can be completed. The Council passed the moratorium in response to concerns brought forward by several Golden Valley residents that the Council found in need of deeper consideration. On Dec 11, the City will hold a listening session as one of the first steps in studying the issue.

The subdivision most recently approved by the City is at 200 Meadow Lane N.

The subdivision most recently approved by the City is at 200 Meadow Lane N.

The Subdivision Study Listening Session will be held Thursday, Dec 11, 6:30-8 pm, in the City Hall Council Chambers, 7800 Golden Valley Rd. City staff will be joined by HKGi, the planning consultant team hired to listen to residents’ experiences, concerns, and ideas. The discussion will be used to identify options for improving the City’s regulations.

What Is A Legal Subdivision?

Any resident or business with a property of 20,000 or more square feet has the legal right to subdivide (split their property in half and sell the other half) as long as both resulting properties are at least 10,000 square feet and have sufficient width. Whoever buys the sold half of the property then has the legal right to build on that property as long as the builder receives approval from the City. The City’s approval process ensures that the lot is not part of a wetland and that it meets minimal building requirements.

The City approves a handful of such subdivisions every year.

One Way To Look At It

Most cities have this kind of subdivision law in their ordinances, says City Planning Manager Jason Zimmerman. Such ordinances allow for change within a city and lead to denser housing, which means more people can live in a community. That can improve a City’s economy, widen its tax base, and provide more options for younger families. Redevelopment from subdivisions also helps weed out older homes that are not as compatible with modern living.

In addition, Zimmerman says, many homeowners have been counting on subdividing and selling off half their property so they can fund family and life expenses, such as retirement.

Another Way To Look At It

In Golden Valley there are a decreasing number of larger lots, meaning the neighborhoods that still have several large properties are seeing a disproportionate amount of housing development, and neighbors are feeling the impact, Zimmerman says.

With new development, different architecture styles, and denser housing, some people are concerned that the very character of their neighborhoods will be lost, he adds.

New construction often also means a decrease in open space and removal of trees and other vegetation, which can have an impact on an area’s aesthetics and potentially raise issues with storm water management.

What’s Next?

“Residents have asked the Council to consider making changes to what’s allowed,” Zimmerman says. Proposed changes to the law include protecting more woodlands and possibly requiring lots to be bigger than 20,000 square feet before it’s legal to split them.

When the Subdivision Study has been completed, the City Council will vote on any possible changes to the law later this winter.

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