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Church, Habitat for Humanity offer updated proposal for affordable housing in Minnetonka Mills

Minnetonka residents push back against church’s redevelopment plans
Minnetonka residents push back against church’s redevelopment plans 02:08

MINNETONKA, Minn. — Mills Church and Habitat for Humanity have submitted a new proposal for more affordable housing units on the church's property.

The church is offering more than five acres for development, and the updated plans envision five duplexes.

"All of what you see there is to incorporate feedback from the neighbors, feedback from the city staff, and feedback from meeting with council members," Pastor David Landt explained to WCCO. "The city has every opportunity to move forward with this."

Landt has been the spiritual leader at Mills Church for nearly 20 years, while the church itself dates back to the late 1800s. The historic church property sits on prime real estate near the corner of Minnetonka Boulevard and Plymouth Road, much of which Landt said is underutilized. 

The original concept, unveiled first in 2022, called for more than a dozen townhomes.

"I would love for the conversation to be shifted from density allowances and setbacks to the actual people whose lives this makes a big material impact," Landt added. "We think this is very reasonable proposal. We believe this was a compromise because we'd love to do more."

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The Minnetonka Planning Commission is set to debate the proposal at a hearing on April 18, but a newly released city staff report recommends the council vote it down.

"While the comprehensive plan identifies goals and strategies for affordable housing, production and a range of housing choices, a change from low-density to medium-density residential at this location is not reasonable," the report reads. "A change from low-density to medium-density residential would allow a greater density of housing that is inconsistent with the established low-density neighborhood character."

The conclusion echoes concerns from some nearby residents who told WCCO there is no opposition to Habitat for Humanity development — just issues with rezoning.

"We have no problem with who's coming in to the neighborhood," Elizabeth Madson, who lives near the church, said. "We don't want the space to change and the zoning to change."

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