Zoning Dispute Pits City of New Hope Against Robbinsdale School District
The Robbinsdale Area School District will have to find a new space to operate one of its post-secondary programs due to a zoning dispute with the city of New Hope.
Robbinsdale Area Schools rents property at 5440 Highway 169.
“The school district had recently leased the building for warehousing purposes and inquired whether it would be allowable to conduct K-12 classes in the building as well,” wrote New Hope city staff members in city council meeting materials.
The city zoned the property industrial.
As a result, New Hope city staff told Robbinsdale school officials that K-12 programming was not allowed at the building.
However, city code technically allows for a post-secondary trade school at the site.
The Robbinsdale Area School District and Hennepin Tech began offering college-level trade school programs at the building. Students in these courses are in the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program and are concurrently enrolled as high school and college students.
New Hope Council Rejects Zoning Appeal
The city of New Hope sent the school district a cease and desist letter, saying it had violated city code by operating the program.
“The students currently attending classes at the property are high school students and are not ‘post-secondary education students,'” wrote the New Hope city attorney in the cease and desist letter. “While what they are studying may be the type of education taught to post-secondary students, the students themselves are not ‘post-secondary education students.'”
The district disagreed and appealed the decision to the New Hope City Council.
“College credit, college students,” said Joe Langel, attorney for the Robbinsdale Area School District. “It is a trade school in every sense of that term. The fact that they’re high school students is utterly irrelevant.”
The council did not agree. Members voted unanimously to reject the appeal from the district.
“What I’m struggling with is these are high school students,” said New Hope City Council member Jonathan London. “That’s obvious.”