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GreenStep City Best Practices Land Use

Resilient City Growth
no. 7

Increase financial and environmental sustainability by enabling and encouraging walkable housing and retail land use.
  Best Practice Action 3      [ 1 2 3 4 5 ]       [all actions]

Achieve higher intensity commercial/industrial land uses through at least one of the following strategies:

a.  Include in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map a commercial district with reduced lot sizes and zero-lot-line setbacks, or a FAR minimum of 1.
b.  Set targets for the minimum number of employees/acre in different commercial zones.
  • As one walks along an indoor mall there is another storefront to look at and enter every 25 to 40 feet. Mall interiors have very few blank walls. Successful commercial zones follow this same Gehl Door Average rule of thumb: the more different retail shops located along a street, the more reasons to be there.
  • Employment density of at least 25 jobs per acre in compact, human-scaled, walkable centers and neighborhoods is one criteria under the national Star Community Rating System.
  • See also implementation tools for action 7.1
Document the existence of a district meeting the FAR standard and/or zero-lot line.
Achieve 1 Star rating AND: locate the higher intensity district near higher density housing; have at least one co-working office space in your city.
The number of retail entrances per 330 feet in a downtown retail district ranges between 8 and 13; employment density of 25+ jobs/acre in compact areas; a maximum block perimeter of 2000' in a downtown zoning district.

Grand Marais

Date action report first entered:   11/04/2015
Date of last report update:   11/04/2015

Implementation details:
Grand Marais has managed commercial and residential growth to create a vibrant downtown waterfront district. The zoning code distinguishes between the highway commercial district and the waterfront district, directing appropriate development to the waterfront that encourages walkability in downtown. Amenity of the waterfront deliberately designed to enhance attractiveness of commercial downtown and create a walkable commercial district. The City has also encouraged higher density housing in and adjacent to the downtown. The EDA is the process of updating the county housing study and plans to have a shovel-ready workforce housing project by the end of 2015.

For more information contact:
Shane Steele (Contractor)   |   shane.w.steele@gmail.com   |   507-884-5790

View All Grand Marais Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/30/2015
Date of last report update:   04/30/2015

Implementation details:
Zero lot lines are allowed in our C-3 Commercial District in our Downtown Area. This area of town is centered to promote walkable/bikeable commercial activities in close proximity to both single family and higher density housing.

Descriptive links: http://www.ci.hutchinson.mn.us/citycode.html             view file

For more information contact:
Dan Jochum (City staff)   |   djochum@ci.hutchinson.mn.us   |   320-234-4258

View All Hutchinson Actions

New Brighton

Date action report first entered:   05/03/2016
Date of last report update:   05/03/2016

Implementation details:
(3a) New Brighton’s B-2 and B-3, Neighborhood Business and General Business zoning districts provide for zero-lot-line setbacks in the side yard abutting other business-zoned districts. Further, New Brighton’s B-3, General Business zoning district provides for a floor area ratio of 1.0.

For more information contact:
Craig Schlichting (City staff)   |   craig.schlichting@newbrightonmn.gov   |   651-638-2056

View All New Brighton Actions

Pine City

Date action report first entered:   05/26/2016
Date of last report update:   05/26/2016

Implementation details:
Included in the city ordinance is a municipal development ordinance. The zoning map includes two districts that have zero setbacks: central district and mixed use district. Both districts require reduced lot sizes down to 5,000 sq. ft and encourage higher density residential housing. The mixed use zone is a transitional zone between commercial and residential development.

For more information contact:
Andrew Mack, AICP (City staff)   |   Amack@pinecitygov.com   |   320-629-2575

View All Pine City Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/19/2016
Date of last report update:   02/19/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
Mixed Use Districts (MU-C and MU-R) include zero lot lines (build-to line). For commercial districts, Section 534.11, Subd. 2 (b): "The front setback requirement for a principal building on a lot located along an arterial road may be reduced to five (5) feet when a customer entrance is provided along that wall of the building." The Code does not include FAR minimums. The Mixed Use districts are located in areas where there is existing commercial and residential intensity and planned growth. Also the Land Use Plan Map in the Comprehensive Plan designates mixed use and higher residential densities as the predominant land uses in the City's commercial centers. Section 544.15 of the Zoning Code states: "Pedestrian circulation and access, Subd.1. Pedestrian access points shall be provided at all pedestrian arrival points to the development including the property edges, adjacent lots, abutting street intersections, crosswalks, and at transit stops. Pedestrian access shall be coordinated with existing development to provide circulation patterns between developments.” One of the goals for the downtown area in the Comp Plan states: "As the market permits, provide circulator transit services connecting the City Center area to the remainder of Richfield." The plan for the I-494 corridor (p. 4-9) “envisions the evolution of a strip freeway corridor into a complete community that features a range of housing types, shops, services, entertainment and amenities. The proposed land use pattern for the area is described as an urban village, an area of multiple story buildings that are more densely developed than the surrounding neighborhoods achieving a greater mix of land uses and more pedestrian activity.” This complete neighborhood philosophy permeates the City's plans for its major commercial areas.

For more information contact:
Melissa Poehlman (City staff)   |   MPoehlman@richfieldmn.gov   |   6128619766

View All Richfield Actions


Date action report first entered:   08/02/2011

Implementation details:
Rochesters CDC has a zero-lot-line setback as well as a FAR Maximum of 6.0

For more information contact:
Jeff Ellerbusch (City staff)   |   ellerbusch.jeff@CO.OLMSTED.MN.US   |   507-328-7132

View All Rochester Actions

Albert Lea

Date action report first entered:   07/21/2016
Date of last report update:   07/21/2016

Implementation details:
The B3 Central Business District has reduced lot sizes and zero-lot-line setbacks.

Descriptive links: https://www.municode.com/library/mn/albert_lea/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICOOR_CH74ZOLAUS_ARTIIIDI_DIV9CEBUDI

For more information contact:
Jerry Gabrielatos (City staff)   |   jgabrielatos@ci.albertlea.mn.us   |   507-377-4316

View All Albert Lea Actions

Apple Valley

Date action report first entered:   03/19/2012

Implementation details:
Apple Valley allows reduced lot sizes, and zero lot line setbacks in the Central Village district.

For more information contact:
Charless Grawe (City staff)   |   CGrawe@ci.apple-valley.mn.us   |   952-953-2508

View All Apple Valley Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/03/2012

Implementation details:
B-3 district, 100% lot coverage allowed through zoning ordinance in this district Permitted in CBD

For more information contact:
Janet Anderson (Community volunteer)   |   janetanderson2840@gmail.com   |   5072190680

Craig Hoium

View All Austin Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/31/2018
Date of last report update:   01/31/2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The City of Bloomington has some zoning districts where a minimum FAR of 1 is required.

For more information contact:
Steve Gurney (City staff)   |   sgurney@BloomingtonMN.gov   |   952-563-4606

View All Bloomington Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/04/2012

Implementation details:
Zero-lot-line setbacks are allowed in the Planned Unit Development District, and all commercial and industrial districts.

View All Burnsville Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/05/2019
Date of last report update:   02/05/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
Both the PUD district and CBD district permit zero-lot line development.

Descriptive links: https://library.municode.com/mn/chanhassen/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=CICO_CH20ZO_ARTVIIIPLUNDEDI

For more information contact:
Jill Sinclair (City staff)   |   jsinclair@ci.chanhassen.mn.us   |   952-227-1133

View All Chanhassen Actions

Coon Rapids

Date action report first entered:   01/03/2015
Date of last report update:   01/03/2015

Implementation details:
The Riverdale Transit Station District, which regulates development near the Riverdale commuter rail station on the Northstar line, allows zero-lot-line setbacks, no minimum lot size, and a minimum building height of two stories, which yields an FAR of at least one.

For more information contact:
Matt Brown (City staff)   |   mbrown@coonrapidsmn.gov   |   763-767-6422

View All Coon Rapids Actions

Elk River

Date action report first entered:   11/24/2010

Implementation details:
C1 Districts in the City Zoning Ordinance (Section 30-1041) allows zero setbacks and maximum lot coverage of 100% and a higher maximum height.

Descriptive links: http://library1.municode.com/default-test/home.htm?infobase=13427&doc_action=whatsnew

For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff)   |   ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov   |   763-635-1068

View All Elk River Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/28/2016
Date of last report update:   04/28/2016

Implementation details:
The Central Business District has no minimum lot size and zero-lot-line setbacks.

For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff)   |   elyod@ely.mn.us   |   218-226-5474

View All Ely Actions

Fergus Falls

Date action report first entered:   01/14/2016
Date of last report update:   01/14/2016

Implementation details:
The City of Fergus Falls has had a B-3 zone established since 1965.

For more information contact:
Len Taylor (City staff)   |   len.taylor@ci.fergus-falls.mn.us   |   218-332-5418

View All Fergus Falls Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/27/2016
Date of last report update:   04/27/2016

Implementation details:
Commercial district with reduced lot sizes included within the DC Zoning District.

For more information contact:
John Hinzman (City staff)   |   jhinzman@hastingsmn.gov   |   651-480-2378

View All Hastings Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/01/2016
Date of last report update:   02/01/2016

Implementation details:
Isanti’s Central Business District (CBD) has a zero lot line setback and no minimum lot size. The Central Business District is surrounded by a Central Business Transitional District (CBTD) which promotes a high quality mix of uses found within the Central Business District along with residential uses that easily transition the area from downtown to more residential areas. Condo’s and/or apartments constructed within the CBTD are subject to the “zero-lot-line setback” and “no minimum lot size” regulations outlined in the CBD.

Descriptive links: http://www.cityofisanti.us/govt/ordinances-code/ordinances-and-code

For more information contact:
Roxanne Achman (City staff)   |   rachman@cityofisanti.us   |   763-444-5512

View All Isanti Actions


Date action report first entered:   06/14/2016
Date of last report update:   08/12/2016

Implementation details:
Under zoning code 154.159: Minor Subdivisions, table C demonstrates that in zone C-2 (Central Business District) there are zero-lot-line setbacks. In addition, lot sizes in the downtown C-2 zone are 2,000 square feet compared to 10,000 square feet in C-1 and 20,000 square feet in C-3.

Descriptive links: http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Minnesota/jordan_mn/cityofjordanminnesotacodeofordinances?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:jordan_mn

For more information contact:
Lauren Walburg (City staff)   |   lwalburg@jordanmn.gov   |   952-492-7928

View All Jordan Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/23/2011
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
Maplewood encourages a higher density of commercial land use with commercial districts. many of these lots have reduced lot sizes and zero-lot-line setbacks, or a FAR minimum between .75 and 1 to some standards. These districts can seen within the area surrounding the Maplewood Mall , as well as the commercial areas along Highway 36 and 61.

For more information contact:
Michael Martin (City staff)   |   michael.martin@maplewoodmn.gov   |   651-249-2303

View All Maplewood Actions

Red Wing

Date action report first entered:   01/30/2013

Implementation details:
We've created two mixed use zoning districts that allow for reduced lot size and zero-setback requirements.

For more information contact:
Paul Drotos (City staff)   |   paul.drotos@ci.red-wing.mn.us   |   651-410-6744

View All Red Wing Actions


Date action report first entered:   03/07/2012

Implementation details:
Rosemount encourages higher intensity commercial land uses through its DT - Downtown District. This district has reduced lot sizes and zero-lot-line setbacks.

Outcome measures/metrics:
The outcome of the DT - Downtown zoning district is Rosemount's compact and mixed use downtown.

Descriptive links: http://tinyurl.com/7d5c9xk

For more information contact:
Anthony Nemcek (City staff)   |   anthony.nemcek@ci.rosemount.mn.us   |   651-322-2090

View All Rosemount Actions

Saint Cloud

Date action report first entered:   05/05/2011

Implementation details:
The City of St. Cloud adopted the Land Development Code (LDC) as its official Zoning Code on February 10, 2008. Article 9 of the LDC established the C-3 (Central Business District) and C-4 (Fringe Central Business District) to provide for high-density commercial development within the downtown core and surrounding fringe areas. These areas are defined as being highly accessible by customer foot traffic. Both of these areas do not require a minimum lot size to be maintained and allow for zero-lot-line setbacks.

Descriptive links: http://ci.stcloud.mn.us/Planning/docs/2009%20zoning%20map.pdf             view file

For more information contact:
Liz Kramer (City staff)   |   elizabeth.kramer@ci.stcloud.mn.us   |   320-255-7226

View All Saint Cloud Actions


Date action report first entered:   12/05/2013
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
The City Zoning Ordinance allows for zero-lot-line setbacks for the City's Central Business District. The flexibility allows for higher intensity of commercial land use in the Central Business District and a better use of space.

Descriptive links: http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=19963             view file

For more information contact:
Madison Fox-Christensen (City staff)   |   mfoxchristensen@ci.victoria.mn.us   |   952-443-4219

View All Victoria Actions

White Bear Lake

Date action report first entered:   01/24/2013

Implementation details:
Reduced lot sizes and zero-lot-line setbacks are utilized in B-5 District and LVMU District.

For more information contact:
Connie Taillon (City staff)   |   ctaillon@whitebearlake.org   |   651-429-8564

View All White Bear Lake Actions

Bemidji pending

Date action report first entered:   05/01/2015
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
Practice 7, Action 3(a): Land Use Plan (Page 76) Adopted February 12, 2007. See Introduction for more details.

Descriptive links: http://www.jpbgba.org/vertical/sites/%7B134ED1DD-8F5D-4B72-9D00-AFD6CD25F943%7D/uploads/JPB_Land_Use_Plan_-_Updated_3-9-2011(1).pdf

For more information contact:
Michelle Miller (City staff)   |   michelle.miller@ci.bemidji.mn.us   |   218-759-3561

Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board

View All Bemidji Actions

Woodbury pending

Date action report first entered:   04/23/2013

Implementation details:
As articulated in the City Code, the purpose of the zoning district B3 “Planned Shopping Center” district is to “allow maximum flexibility in development” This district, which is shown on the official Zoning Map, allows for a minimum lot size of 1.5 acres after subdivision (Section 24-139, paragraph f.1).

For more information contact:
Mark Huonder (City staff)   |   mhuonder@ci.woodbury.mn.us   |   651-714-3535

View All Woodbury Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Brian Ross, Senior Communities Program Director, Great Plains Institute: 612/767-7296, bross@gpisd.net, https://www.betterenergy.org/who-we-are/staff-and-consultants/