Infill Housing Text Amendment – Single and Two-Family Dwellings

In June 2007, CPED – Planning staff completed the Infill Housing Text Amendment process (aka the "Monster Home" Ordinance), with the adoption of new zoning code language intended to preserve the traditional character of Minneapolis residential neighborhoods. The new zoning regulations are a response to the negative impacts of tearing down small homes in desirable areas of Minneapolis and building much larger homes that are out of character with the scale of the surrounding neighborhood. The changes include establishing the size of homes based the lot size, reducing the height of new homes to preserve neighborhood views and access to sunlight, encouraging back yard open space and detached garages, and reducing water runoff through smaller building footprint and impervious surface areas allowed. The changes apply to single family homes and two-family homes, or duplexes. The changes include the following regulations:

Introduction of a floor area ratio (FAR).

A floor area ratio is a calculation that is used to determine the floor area allowed for development based on the size of the property. All multi-family, commercial, and industrial development has a FAR in the Zoning Code. Now, single-family homes and duplexes have an FAR of 0.5. The 0.5 FAR limits the size of a new house or remodel to half, or 0.5, the size of the lot. For example, a new home on a 5,000 sq. ft. lot could be up to 2,500 sq. ft. There are ways to maximum the FAR through the design of the home.

In order to encourage traditional building features, certain portions of homes are not counted toward the FAR, including the following:

1. Detached garages

2. Attached garages that are 250 sq. ft. or less (one parking stall). Attached garages size in excess of 250 sq. ft. will be counted toward the total size of the home.

3. Half stories. This is area under a hip or gable roof that is half the square footage of the floor below. Half stories can be livable space, such as bedrooms.

4. Basements that do not project more than 4 ft. from grade.

5. Open porches

Height of homes

The way that the height of homes is measured has also changed. The zoning code changes included reducing the height of homes from 35 ft. to 30 ft. The zoning code measures the height of a home at the midpoint of the roof, or halfway between the peak and eave of the main roof line. In addition, natural grade was added to the glossary of the zoning code and defined as the elevation of the property prior to construction disturbance. The height of home is to be measured from natural grade to ensure consistent heights of homes.

Building footprint and hard cover

The amount of impervious, or hard surface allowed in low density residential areas was reduce in the zoning code changes. The maximum building lot coverage, or footprint of all buildings (home, garage, shed, etc.), was reduced from 60 percent of the lot to 50 percent of the lot. The amount of impervious or hard cover (building, walkways, driveways, etc.) was reduced from 75 percent of the lot to 65 percent of the lot.

Exceptions to the FAR

The FAR requirements include two types of exceptions to the FAR. The first allows for up to a 500 sq. ft. building addition for homes that exceed the FAR or would exceed the FAR with that addition. The other exception allows for the FAR and height to be increased when a minimum of half the homes within 100 ft. of a site also exceed the FAR or height requirements. Both of these exceptions can be done administratively. A variance can also be applied for to increase the height and size of a home. The variance process includes a public hearing and typically takes 6 to 8 weeks.

Links

Actions of the City Council
City Planning Commission staff report

City Council staff report

Text language

During the community meetings and public hearings, many presentations were given about the infill housing text amendment. This link has an overview presentation given to a local preservation group, Preserve Minneapolis:

Overview presentation

Last updated Oct. 25, 2011