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Beacon Housing Update

The Oak Knoll Beacon committee wants to keep the congregation informed on a variety of issues involving Beacon and affordable housing. The following article appeared the Shakopee local newspaper in September about a proposed Beacon housing project in Shakopee. The strong efforts by Beacon Housing participants prevented the city council from stopping the Prairie Pointe project.

Affordable housing development escapes Shakopee’s attempt to kill project after rezoning vote is withdrawn.

The move comes after a Sahan Journal investigation found that city officials plotted to kill the Prairie Pointe development by rezoning the project site. The Shakopee Planning Commission voted Thursday evening to withdraw a vote to rezone the site of an affordable housing project, ending an attempt by city officials to kill the project due to public pressure.

The move will likely put an end to a series of twists and turns in the Prairie Pointe housing project that is being developed by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, which serves a rental clientele that is about 90 percent people of color. It means the project can move forward as planned, and that Beacon doesn’t have to worry about whether the site will be rezoned, which would require them to redesign the project or scrap it altogether.

The commission’s decision to remove an agenda item to vote on rezoning the project site also prevents the city council and city officials from revisiting the rezoning issue, said Michael Kerski, the city’s planning and development director.

About 50 people filled the commission’s meeting room Thursday evening, most of them supporting the project and Beacon. The six members of the commission in attendance Thursday unanimously approved withdrawing the rezoning vote, prompting many attendees to applaud. One commissioner was absent from the meeting; there was no discussion on the matter before the vote.

Beacon held a rally outside Shakopee City Hall after the vote. Ricky Kamil, a Beacon organizer, asked supporters at the rally to text him one word to describe how they felt. Many supporters cheered and applauded as Kamil spoke at the rally. “We all are feeling a little bit of relief in making sure this can continue forward, but also, incredibly, I think, proud of all the leaders that all stepped up,” Kamil said in an interview with the Sahan Journal. The city council first voted in 2020 to rezone the project site to allow Beacon to proceed with its vision for the development, but a news report and blog post about problems at other Beacon properties caused many Shakopee residents to advocate against the Beacon project.

A Sahan Journal investigation published last month revealed that in the face of public pressure, city leaders, including City Administrator Bill Reynolds, devised a plan earlier this year to kill the project by asking the planning commission to rezone the site back to its original status.

Emails obtained by Sahan Journal also showed that a city planner told Beacon in 2020 that it did not have to host a required neighborhood meeting about the project due to COVID-19 concerns, but that city officials said this year that the commission should vote on the rezoning because that meeting was never held.

Beacon has said rezoning the site now would erase years of planning and would delay or kill the project. An altered version of the project could still have been built had the site been rezoned, but it would have accommodated fewer families, Beacon has said. The current plan would build 46 units at 4th Avenue East and Sarazin Street.

Thursday’s turn of events occurred after Kerski sent the commission a note recommending that the commission withdraw the rezoning vote from its agenda.


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