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TitleCongregate Living Zoning Study
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Table of Contents
                            Congregate Living staff memo to NPC 2-23-16
Congredate Living - PC resolution draft
Existing and Proposed Tables of Permitted Uses- clean
Study Presentation_01.22.16
Study Presentation- revised 1.24.16
UPDC CLF resolution
UPDC CLF resolution Feb
People Incorporated Comments on Congregate Living Zoning Amendments
PC minutes- excerpt
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Jonathan Sage-Martinson, Director

CITY OF SAINT PAUL 25 West Fourth Street Telephone: 651-266-6700
Christopher B. Coleman, Mayor Saint Paul, MN 55102 Facsimile: 651-228-3220

DATE: February 18, 2016

TO: Comprehensive Planning Committee

FROM: Bill Dermody, City Planner

RE: Congregate Living Zoning Study – a review of proposed text amendment initiated

by Planning Commission Resolution 12-55, amending the zoning code text
regarding congregate living facilities (Sec. 60.207.F., 60.217.P., 61.503, 63.207,
65.132, 65.143, 65.150 – 65.191, 65.662, 65.922, 66.221, 66.321, 66.421, 66.521)


On August 24, 2012, Planning Commission passed Resolution 12-55, initiating a zoning study to
consider amendments to the Zoning Code regarding congregate living facilities. A need was
identified for clearer definitions, improved consistency in standards among different types of
facilities, and more timelessly accurate reflections of associated state programs that frequently
change. Questions regarding definitions and regulations for congregate living facilities have
continued to arise through more recent zoning applications, including how to define uses that
appear to fall under multiple definitions, how to address proximity to schools, and how to
address traffic/parking.


The congregate living portion of the Zoning Code was originally drafted in 1980 during a time
widespread de-institutionalization of persons being treated for mental illness, mental handicaps,
and substance abuse. The code received a major update in 1991, informed by a report from a 15-
member task force that spent 11 months discussing and analyzing numerous additions and
revisions. Additionally, sober houses were the subject of an in-depth, more focused, amendment
in 2008. The subject zoning study is the first to address multiple types of congregate living in 24

Due to the length and complexity of the background section, it is broken down into several
subsections addressing the following questions:

• What are “Congregate Living Facilities”?

• Where are “Congregate Living Facilities”?

• What is the legal context for congregate living facilities regulation?

• How does the City Code currently regulate congregate living facilities?


Page 2

Comprehensive Planning Committee
Congregate Living Zoning Study
Page 2

What are “Congregate Living Facilities”?

Congregate living facilities are a category of residential uses that generally do not fit within the
definition of a “family” because of the number of unrelated residents. They are commonly
recognized as important components of a healthy community that must be accommodated, but
can have external impacts related to their size and outside services provided. The Saint Paul
Zoning Code defines 18 categories of congregate living, including sober houses, rooming
houses, nursing homes, dormitories, 3 types of community residential facilities, and others.

There is no complete inventory of all categories of congregate living in the city. The Department
of Safety and Inspections (DSI) tracks certain categories in order to enforce separation
requirements and maximum concentrations. Also, facilities information was recently obtained
on a one time basis from the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) for sites
they license, though consistent future access to that data is not guaranteed. Other categories’
facilities can be discovered via the Internet. There is also the issue that many facilities could fit
under multiple definitions. Overall, we have a partial understanding of what congregate living
facilities are like in Saint Paul today. The following paragraphs summarize our understanding of
the various congregate living facilities, as categorized by our Zoning Code.

Foster home (Sec. 65.151) and Freestanding foster care home (Sec. 65.152)

By Zoning Code definition, a “freestanding foster care home” involves a license-holder who
does not live on-site. According to DHS data, there are 4 freestanding foster care homes in Saint
Paul, including 2 single-family homes with 5 or fewer adult residents, 1 single-family home with
4 youth residents, and 1 duplex with 10 adult residents with Alzheimer’s disease (5 in each unit).
There are also approximately 200 (not freestanding) foster care homes in Saint Paul, each with
between 1 and 6 residents, mostly for youth but several for adults, and nearly all in single-family

Community residential facility, licensed human service (Sec. 65.153)

There are 36 licensed human service community residential facilities in Saint Paul in a variety of
settings, including converted single-family homes, apartment buildings, and converted convents.
Seventeen (17) of the facilities have 6 or fewer residents, 13 have between 7 and 16 residents,
and 6 have more (up to 64 residents). Below are representative photographs of these facilities.

Page 54

Advantages to 1,320 Feet

Distance Requirement
• How 1,320 feet maintains the residential character for all and

ensures balance of all types of housing:

• Today 330 feet – Upper Limit: One Sober House every block

[up to 173; a 12X increase from today]

• Recommendation of 1,320 feet – Upper Limit: One Sober

House every four blocks [Up to 43; a 3X increase from today]


TODAY : 330 feet Separation Distance - Upper Limit [4 Block Area]

RECOMMENDED: 1,320 feet Separation Distance – Upper Limit [4 Block Area]

*See Appendix A for detailed data

Page 55

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Page 107

study were approved as it is proposed right now, rooming and boarding houses would be
combined into one and they would not have services like the other types of facilities.

Commissioner Wang asked if there was anything that said how long the minimum amount of
time someone might be living in a boarding or rooming house?

Mr. Dermody replied that there is no information in the definition about how long they stay in
a boarding or rooming house.

Commissioner Wang wonders why the working group did not look at the lack of distance
requirement particularly with boarding and rooming houses.

Mr. Syverud said they are focused on sober houses.

Commissioner Edgerton asked about why the focus on sober houses. Within the congregate
living category, there are supportive housing facilities where persons with mental illness,
chemical dependency or physical handicap are allowed, and you’re specifically focusing on
sober houses among the group – he is wondering why.

Mr. Syverud said if he understands the rules at this point, there is one every approximately
four block requirement for most of the other congregate living facilities, while sober houses is
a quarter of that. So the density of sober houses could be considerably higher and there is a
considerable growth in the Merriam Park neighborhoods, that’s why they focused on sober

Commissioner Ward said that sober homes do include those that are chemically dependent,
alcohol is a chemical and it is labeled as an addictive disease. So those individuals that are
staying in sober homes are also protected under the ADA. Also, sober homes could be
someone that may or may not be on a chemical but suffering from a condition where they are
being treated for something. There is no time limit, but if he recalls correctly there is a limit
to the number of people that could reside in that particular unit and there was a number
spoken of about 15 customers and as he remembers it was nowhere near 15, because when
you get over 7 the requirements for the County kick in and those conditions change from a
sober home to a facility that has to be regulated by the County because there is up to 7 people
there. Under what he remembers there were some size limitations.

Mr. Syverud said that he’s sure that’s correct, the property that he is talking about on his
block is a main family home and a mother-in-law apartment in the back where the garage
might be and they are putting 8 people in the back and 7 people in the front – and this is a
sober home.

Mr. Anderson said that the limit of 4 unrelated people in a structure does not apply to sober
homes, so on his block for example the sober home has 14 customers and that includes 1
manager. And there is 15 individuals living in a home on his block a sober house.

Commissioner Ward said that this is one particular incidence that one is isolated but the other
ones are different – they are not 15, 15, 15.

Mr. Anderson said no, there are 12, 9. The whole limit of 4 people per house does not apply
when you get to sober houses.

Page 108

Mr. Pelsynski said that you have to hit 17 before there is any County oversight in a sober

Commissioner Ward replied I knew there was a number. Also you talked about the structure
of a fee based situation. You guys put a lot of work and effort into this and when we were
going over this before there were a total of 34 sober homes in the city that the City could
identify. 34 in Merriam Park and a few online that were not account for so now you’re
saying it’s up to…

Mr. Syverud replied 70 on the records but then there’s a delta between that and the actual
number of homes that we have been able to identify doing internet research. Margaret Ryther
has been very thorough in going through and looking for promotions and things like that so
there appears to be another half dozen to three quarters of a dozen that the city is not aware

Commissioner Ward said let’s say we’re considering a fee base deal. What stops the rooming
houses the other congregate living facilities to say hey, we cry foul, because that is somewhat
discriminatory because it is singling out just sober homes and we didn’t get charged a fee but
the sober home owners are saying now we’re being charged a fee and nobody else is. So why
is that? And why not just charge a fee across the board if it is going to help the community
with limiting the density as you discussed in those areas of overconcentration of these types
of facilities?

Mr. Syverud said that is a great recommendation.

Commissioner Ward said because he would think that if it is a fee just for one type that is
very similar to all the other ones, if it were him he would say that it was somewhat unfair.

MOTION: Commissioner Thao moved to close the public hearing, leave the record open for

written testimony until 4:30 p.m. on Monday, January 25, 2016, and to refer the matter back to

the Comprehensive Planning Committee for review and recommendation. Commissioner

Ward seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously on a voice vote.

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