City officials should listen to residents

To the Editor:

The Pine City Planning Commission voted 5-3 on April 16  to advance to the Pine City Council the zoning change request from Yanik Companies to build a 72-unit senior complex in our neighborhood. Currently the area east of 3rd St. SE and north of 3rd Ave SE is zoned R2 residential. The zoning change will allow Yanik companies to forever change the quiet, serene nature of our neighborhood. More than 40 homeowners voiced their opposition to this change.

The meeting opened with a lengthy analysis by Community Development Director Lezlie Sauter that maximized the argument for this change and minimized concerns of property owners. None of the analysis focused on what the neighborhood is currently,  current traffic patterns and what this change means for the area and for residents along 1st St. SE. Her analysis seemed weighted in favor of the developer.

Chair Frank Christopherson made it clear he was loath to allow much public comment. He then allowed the representative from Yanik Companies to speak  in glowing terms about the project and say potential residents weren’t likely to be factor in traffic increases. He failed to mention traffic increases from staff members for the proposed complex, Arrowhead Transit,  emergency vehicles and families visiting the elderly residents. There is a difference between traffic from a few additional homes and traffic generated by a commercial venture. It was clear the input from neighborhood residents was a nuisance to several commissioners. Many of us left feeling the ‘fix was already in’.  

Other commissioners tried to minimize residents’ concerns by saying we in the neighborhood are unsympathetic to the housing needs of the elderly.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The only issue is whether this is an appropriate use of the site at the end of 1st Street SE.  There are needs for housing of all sorts in Pine City.  And yes, there is a need for housing for the elderly.  But that need should not be the logical basis for this rezoning.  We have plenty of substandard housing in our neighborhood and a need for some redevelopment. We have property in our neighborhood that has been in perpetual construction over the past decade. And we have some of the oldest housing stock in the city, much of it needing repair, updating or demolition. We need new R2 consistent housing in our neighborhood. And development of the site at the end of 1st St SE as R2 residential would be welcomed, I believe. This option would keep the development consistent with the neighborhood.

I hope the city council will reject this rezoning request to MFR-2 and see this for what it is – a business proposition that will maximize returns on capital at the expense of the property owners along 1st St SE. Yanik Companies should be encouraged to find a more appropriate site for their project. And yes, development of this site under an R2 zoning framework would be welcomed by this writer.  What happens to a neighborhood is important and resident concerns are valid. Please listen to those who live in the neighborhood over the slick arguments of those who push redevelopment.

Mark VanderHorck

Pine City

Why have zoning ordinances?

To the Editor:

I was disappointed the Pine City Planning Commission voted to recommend to the city council rezoning a parcel on 1st Street SE to high density. They voted 5 for and 3 against, despite the expressed concerns of the 35 plus neighbors at the meeting and a petition with 52 signatures. I thank the three members who used common sense to vote no.

Two large developers want to build a 60 unit senior apartment building with 12 unit memory care. This for-profit commercial development would destroy our quiet neighborhood on our narrow, 30-foot-wide dead-end street.

The apartment building would require employees 365 days a year, seven days a week, 25 hours a day. This would create traffic concerns from residents, employees, visitors and deliveries.

In August 2001, Brackenbury Construction proposed a 12-14 unit apartment on 1st Street SE, the old Armory site. Brian Scholin made a motion to recommend that the council deny the rezoning request based on community feeling that this development was incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood due to traffic changes etc.

Our neighborhood is not against large apartment buildings when they are in a proper zoning area. This is why the city has zoning ordinances. Please contact city council members and the mayor with this concern. And please attend the May 1 city council meeting.


Richard Novy

Pine City

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