Plan for new home in Grass Lake wetland area rejected

On Nov. 14 the Planning Commission rejected plans to build a single-family home at 5912 Girard Ave. S. Dan Radunz, of Bloomington, applied for conditional-use permits (CUP) and variances for the property, which he has under purchase agreement, contingent on the CUPs’ approval.

He said the property owner has been paying taxes on the land for nearly 50 years, but is being told by the city that it’s unbuildable land. Area residents call it a protected wetland, and the city agreed.

The property is located within 50 feet of Grass Lake, a protected body of water. The land is protected by a zoning designation called a Shoreland Overlay District (SOD). A SOD is an area in which building height is capped at no more than 2.5 stories or 35 feet. A CUP is needed to bypass the zoning restriction. The SOD has been a prospective-builder’s stumbling block, occasionally foiling other Southwest developments – most recently around Lake Calhoun.

Area residents have long fought to preserve Grass Lake. The Kenny Neighborhood Association is not on record as having taken a formal vote on the plans, but neighborhood residents are still concerned.

Kenny resident Donna Noukki, who lives near the land in question, said she was on the Grass Lake Committee that 10 years ago created a Neighborhood Revitalization Plan with Public Works, intended to protect Grass Lake. She said it must continue to be protected.

Noukki said the land in question is not only protected wildlife habitat, but also unstable ground unsuitable for a structure. “It’s an unrealistic plan,” she said of Radunz’s desire to build a single-family home there.

After being denied by the city, Radunz said he’s talking with the property owner about their options. He said they’re looking into talking to a lawyer and are unsure whether they will appeal the Planning Commission’s decision. Noukki said if they do appeal, neighbors such as she would continue to work to protect the wetland.