St. Paul’s City Council has approved a new residential zoning code that allow more multifamily developments to be built on blocks once restricted to single-family homes.
St. Paul City Council voted 4-3 on Wednesday to approve changes to the city’s zoning code. The changes simplify from six zoning districts (R1-R4, RT1, RT2) to be consolidated into two (H1 and H2).
The Pioneer Press reported that council members who approved the new ordinance were Amy Brendmoen, Mitra Jalali, Nelsie Yang and Rebecca Noecker. The dissenting council members included Jane Prince, Chris Tolbert and Russel Balenger, who noted concerns about housing teardowns and short-term rentals taking over neighborhoods.
The ordinance will go into effect on Nov. 17. It will allow for new duplexes, triplexes, and up to six-unit homes to be constructed in residential neighborhoods.
Council member supporters said the denser communities made possible with new ordinance would benefit the city through better walkability, reduced carbon emissions and affordability, Finance and Commerce reported.
Some of the new changes include replacing R1-RT2 districts with H1 districts, which will be single-family homes, two-family dwellings and modestly-sized multi-family structures. These districts will allow a maximum of four units on a lot, for a maximum 45% lot coverage.
The new H2 districts would be located within an eighth-mile of major transit corridors. Those districts would allow up to five principal units on a single lot and 50% lot coverage. New single-family homes would be limited to 2,500 square feet.
In both districts, special density bonuses will also be available for developers who provide affordable rental housing for residents earning up to 60% of area median income for 10 years, or for-sale housing for residents earning no more than 80% of area median income.
The ordinance also allows developers to construct “cluster-style developments” on lot sizes of up to a half-acre, where single-family, two-family, triplex or fourplex dwellings can be organized around an open space and connected by a pedestrian path. In cluster developments, a conditional use permits may be available for tiny homes under 600 square feet.
Council Member Mitra Jalali told Finance and Commerce that while she understood the concern over investors and developers flooding neighborhoods with low-quality housing, she believes local developers will take the opportunity to help St. Paul grow in a sustainable way.