Rochester neighbors sue city council over possible change to neighborhood

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(ABC 6 News) – A controversial development has some neighbors filing a lawsuit against the city. The group is suing the Rochester City Council over possible changes to their neighborhood, but they said it’s not that they are opposed to change.

A local developer is planning on turning a house on the corner of 6th St SW and 14th Ave SW into twelve townhomes. The decision has upset some neighbors.

"It’s packing a very small lot with twelve units. The neighbors on two sides are going to be looking up at a three-story wall where there used to be trees and a single family home," Susan Wescott, a member of the Folwell neighborhood and one of the plaintiffs, said.

The city council approved a zone change for the lot earlier this year — meaning the house can be replaced with a larger development.

Wescott said she feels the council did not listen to the neighborhood’s concerns.

"I think communities are built together with the residents and city working together," Wescott said.

The Rochester City Council declined to comment on this issue citing the pending lawsuit.

Wescott said the neighbors feel the development would reduce their property value.

She also said the area is already busy. She believes adding twelve more families will be overwhelming, especially with Folwell Elementary being a block away.

"The absolute density that they’re proposing here at a corner that’s busy – traffic jam every morning – and children trying to get to school," Wescott said.

She said the neighborhood is not opposed to change.

"This neighborhood would be open to more intense development, even a duplex or a quad. But ever since the day in March when we first met the developer, he’s been insistent on a twelve-plex," Wescott said.

She said she is hoping for a compromise and the parties will be able to meet in the middle.

The neighbors and city council will go before a judge on Oct. 6 to discuss the case. The developer has until Jan. 19 to demolish the house currently on the property.