St. Louis Park moratorium on commercial parking lots moves forward
Too many St. Louis Park commercial parking lots are used for storage instead of short-term parking, according to city leaders.
As a result, St. Louis Park is enacting an ordinance temporarily prohibiting parking lots and parking businesses as principal uses in its two largest commercial zoning districts.
“The intent of the interim ordinance is to give city planning staff time to review the various parking issues and practices in the commercial areas and consider amendments to the areas,” said Planning and Zoning Supervisor Meg McMonigal during a Jan. 22 St. Louis Park City Council meeting.
The city ordinance currently allows parking lots and parking businesses as principal uses without any conditions.
“Parking is at a premium in some locations in the commercial districts,” states a city staff report McMonigal prepared.
In addition to considering new zoning regulations, the study would consider whether there is a need for parking businesses or lots as principal uses.
Any changes to the regulations would affect future uses, but existing businesses could continue, according to the staff report.
The City Council preliminarily approved the interim ordinance Jan. 22. The staff report anticipated a second reading Monday, Feb. 4, but City Manager Tom Harmening called for a special meeting Jan. 29 instead to finalize the moratorium.
“While we don’t adopt these interim ordinances very often, it’s not unusual for us to adopt them one week apart,” Harmening said.
The council’s regular meetings are typically two weeks apart.
“There’s usually a good reason why we’re trying to get these city ordinances into effect so we can get the study process underway,” Harmening said. “We did this with the last interim moratorium ordinance. (The votes) were one week apart. This is following a similar pattern.”
St. Louis Park’s history of moratoriums includes a case temporarily banning pawnshops during a study that led to a court battle with Pawn America. St. Louis Park ended up winning that challenge after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in the city’s favor.
A significant parking issue recently reached the St. Louis Park City Council.
Life Time Fitness sought a conditional use permit from the city to move thousands of cubic yards of material to make way for a four-level parking ramp with 380 spaces at the St. Louis Park location, 5525 Cedar Lake Road.
The council unanimously voted Jan. 7 to approve the request after seeking concessions from Life Time Fitness regarding the hours of heavy construction activity.
The ramp will take up some space on the business’s existing parking lot. When complete, the number of parking spaces will expand from 619 spaces to 842 spaces. Landscaping will also be brought up to city code through a hedge, tree replacement and the addition of trees in parking lot islands.
Council members generally indicated they believed the project was overdue.
The site had insufficient parking even before Life Time Fitness bought the club in 2003, a city staff report prepared by Assistant Zoning Administrator Gary Morrison states.
“The conversion of the property to a Life Time Fitness has increased the popularity of the site, and resulted in a need for even more parking,” Morrison said.
A company representative said the St. Louis Park Life Time Fitness will provide 110 more parking spaces than any other Life Time Fitness location in the nation when the project is complete.
Work is set to begin this spring. Life Time Fitness is working with a representative of Cedar Pointe Shopping Center to resolve parking issues during the ramp construction.
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