Pill Hill residents not thrilled about Rochester Planning Commission’s proposed zoning changes

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(ABC 6 News) – It’s one of the oldest and most recognizable neighborhoods in Rochester, and it still breathes a rich history to the earliest days of Mayo Clinic’s founding. But some of that history could be changing.

The planning and zoning commission has proposed changing the zoning laws around St. Marys Hospital to include more multi-family housing units, but many residents in the Pill Hill neighborhood don’t want to see that change.

Residents felt the planning commission took considerate time to hear their concerns, but they want to get the word out about how important it is to them to keep the history of this neighborhood preserved.

“It’s just a very special place within Rochester and the state as a whole,” said Seth Behrends a resident of Pill Hill.

While the city sees the area as an opportunity for more multi-family housing units, neighbors don’t.

“It does, however, allow the use of those properties to be used in ways other than single family homes,” Ryan Yetzer, Rochester’s deputy director of community development “We believe that it is appropriate given other zoning around the downtown as well as their location and proximity to the downtown.”

Seth Behrends and Kari Andersen have lived on Pill Hill for 10 years. It’s been the perfect spot to walk to their jobs and bring their daughter to St. Marys Park.

They attended Wednesday night’s planning and zoning commission meeting with several neighbors to express their concern.

“The proximity to green space and the park was one of the major draws in choosing where we live and the proposed zoning map rezones the entirety of St. Mary’s park as R2X,” Behrends said.

“People outside of this area voice their appreciation for it and hear from their family that are visiting and patients that come through here that this is a very special place and they enjoy the historic nature of it,” Andersen added.

The planning and zoning commission voted unanimously to recommend these zoning changes to the Rochester City Council.

But Behrends and Andersen want the city council to stop and think about how this could change the landscape of this historic neighborhood.

“Urban planning is very much an inexact science and as my wife pointed out, once you make a change you can’t undo it,” Behrends said.

Some of the other neighborhoods that are facing rezoning include Kutzky Park and even the IBM campus.

The next phase for the rezoning proposals is a public hearing hosted by Rochester city council during it’s October 2nd meeting.