Resources and Tools to Fight Teardowns

As we work toward meeting our goals, Save Our St. Paul Neighborhoods encourages individual homeowners and neighborhoods to become educated about what tools and resources currently exist to combat or prevent teardowns, lot splits or other disruptive development, as well as to get more information or register your concerns at an official level.

st. Paul city council and district councils

Are you concerned about teardowns and other development issues in your neighborhood? Here is what you can do:

First, contact your St. Paul City Councilmember and tell them about your concerns. The more they hear from their constituents, the more they will feel compelled to act, and to support efforts which promote thoughtful development. All City Council seats are up for election in 2015, so make sure that your Councilmember understands how important this issue is to residents.

Don’t know your Ward or Councilmember? Visit this map and find your Ward. Then, contact your Councilmember:

Ward 1—Dai Thao
Ward 2—Rebecca Noecker
Ward 3—Chris Tolbert
Ward 4—Russ Stark
Ward 5—Amy Brendmoen
Ward 6—Dan Bostrom
Ward 7—Jane Prince

Next, contact your District Council.  The 17 District Councils are charged with being the voice of the residents in their district on a wide range of issues, and planning issues are a key accountability.  Your District Council should be able to advise you about developments in your neighborhood and their status—and direct you to the appropriate city department if you have further questions or concerns.  Click here to learn more about how the District Councils work, and to find out how to contact your District Council staff and board of directors.

st. Paul planning and economic development (PED) department

All requests for demolition permits, major and minor zoning variances, and building permits go through this department to be evaluated and approved or rejected. If you have questions about a specific property, guidelines pertaining to development or the laws governing them, PED is the department to contact.

Much of the work related to teardowns, lot splits and remodels go through the Zoning Committee. If you want to follow progress on a particular issue, you can do so by finding it on their meeting agenda, which also identifies the city staff member who is assigned the project. Questions and concerns related to that project can be directed to that staff member.

heritage preservation commission (hpc)

The Heritage Preservation Commission falls under the Planning and Economic Development umbrella. They are brought in on requests pertaining to historic properties, and conduct reviews and make recommendations when an application is submitted for full and partial demolitions, major variances and other requests involving many of the older houses in the City which are part of national, state or local historic districts. They have statutory authority to preserve structures with historic status.

To find out if a specific building is historically designated, visit this link.

To learn about historic designation and what you can or can’t do to a historic property, or to learn more about the design review and application process, visit this link.

deed restrictions:  a useful tool

If you have a property and you want to protect it and preserve it for future generations, you can put in place a deed restriction which will define allowable uses and development of a property.  In Minnesota, these are regulated by statute and will remain in place for up to 30 years, at which time they must be renewed.  A deed restriction was critical in being able to save 1721 Princeton Avenue.  A real estate attorney can provide more information about what you can do and how to put a deed restriction in place.