Planning Commission will try to clear up provisions regarding lot coverage and green roofs.

How much open space future developments at Highland Bridge are required to set aside could change as a result of a Saint Paul City Council resolution that was adopted on May 5. The council asked the Saint Paul Planning Commission to review the Ford Site Zoning and Public Realm Master Plan and recommend amendments to the open space requirements.

The interpretation of the open space requirements for individual projects was a key concern during discussions of some of the first Highland Bridge developments.

A bird's-eye view of what the 122-acre Highland Bridge development could look like when fully built out according to the Ford site master plan..

Members of Neighbors for a Livable Saint Paul filed a lawsuit last fall alleging that the city was not following the master plan and zoning ordinances for the 122-acre site, especially with respect to the open space requirements. However, the lawsuit was dismissed in April (see story elsewhere in general news).

Five Highland Park residents, including three plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit, sent comments to the City Council. Those who commented said they appreciated the city’s efforts to clarify what is considered open space at Highland Bridge. However, they asked for further clarification as well as more time to comment on the proposed changes.

The City Council’s resolution does not refer to the lawsuit. However, it acknowledges the difficulties city staff have had applying some of the regulations while reviewing proposed Highland Bridge developments. The regulations cited as being the most unclear regarded open space, lot coverage and green roofs.

One recommended change would remove the term “open space” from the master plan as it pertains to privately owned development parcels and lot coverage.

Another change would add a definition of “lot coverage by buildings” in the zoning amendments and master plan.

 

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Yet another change would remove the inclusion of green roofs as open space. Instead, developers would be given a bonus of up to 10 percent allowable lot coverage in exchange for more green roof space. In essence, the amendment would allow a structure to be larger if its green roof is larger.

Any changes to the master plan would not affect Highland Bridge’s public parks and other open space requirements.

Five Highland Park residents, including three plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit, sent comments to the City Council. Those who commented said they appreciated the city’s efforts to clarify what is considered open space at Highland Bridge. However, they asked for further clarification as well as more time to comment on the proposed changes.

One request was that city planning staff clearly spell out exactly what building lot coverage means and what would replace the definition of open space for private properties.

—Jane McClure

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