A requested Northeast Rochester zoning change for a planned 66-apartment complex was approved Monday.
The Rochester City Council split 5-2 to approve a change that would allow construction of the apartment complex on a vacant 2.5-acre propertybehind the Kwik Trip at the intersection of East Circle Drive and 26th Street Northeast, as well as north of an existing strip mall.
“For people who need homes, this is a good place,” council member Molly Dennis said.
The decision to rezone the lot from commercial to residential came two weeks after neighboring residents spoke against the plan during a public hearing.
Council President Brooke Carlson said conversations during the two weeks have tugged her in multiple directions, and she eventually opted to support the zoning change because the site meets many elements related to affordable living, including access to child care, parks and schools.
“I speak to people every day who are struggling to find housing,” she said.
Council member Shaun Palmer, who represents the ward, said he doesn’t believe the location is right for housing that caters to households earning 50 and 60 percent of the area median income.
He pointed to the lack of weekend bus service and a two-mile distance to a grocery store.
“There are better spots in Rochester that this place could be put into,” said Palmer, who was joined by council member Mark Bransford in opposing the zoning change.
During previous meetings, Ryan Schwickert, representing Joseph Development and MWF Properties, said the project earned state tax credits based on the Northeast Rochester location.
Mayor Kim Norton, who lives within blocks of the site, said the site does provide access to amenities that have attracted others to the area.
“This is a neighborhood that many people in the middle class want to live in because it has so many amenities,” she said, adding that the council could work to add weekend transit access to the area.
Carlson said the new development, along with a similar apartment complex being built south of the site by the same developer, will bring added density that could support the extension of bus service and could spur additional commercial development in the area.