Plasma move axed, could delay WaHu

A councilman hopes to amend the zoning code, which would help CSL move.

Tony

Minneapolis on Monday night denied an application to move the city’s only plasma center.

The proposal would’ve moved the Stadium Village CSL Plasma Center one block along University Avenue to make way for CPM Development’s WaHu, a 333-unit student housing project.

The Planning Commission unanimously denied the move, disapproving of the required rezoning that would put it at the same zoning district as pawn shops, firearm stores, sex shops and exterminators. Instead, the commission hopes to amend the Minneapolis zoning code, to allow CSL — and other plasma or blood donation centers — to be built in more locations.

According to CPM President Daniel Oberpriller, the amendment process and subsequent relocation of CSL could delay the opening of WaHu until 2015, but CPM will still try to remain on schedule for the original fall 2014 opening. 

Discussion of an amendment came with the revelation that a blood donation center would be subject to the same restrictive zoning as a plasma center, something the commission concluded warrants reconsideration of city policy.

Councilman Gary Schiff said fellow Councilman Cam Gordon — who represents the University and its surrounding neighborhoods — is crafting an amendment to the zoning code that would allow blood and plasma donation centers in other zoning districts.

“It’s ironic that we treat blood and plasma as the same in the zoning code,” Schiff said. “People would love the Red Cross, but we heard a lot of negative comments today about this plasma center.”

The hearing drew a large crowd, with emotional testimonies from donors, Prospect Park residents, CSL employees and a Minneapolis police sergeant.

Supporters of the center hailed the good plasma donation payments do for the community, whereas local business owners and residents painted the center as dangerous and wrong for the Prospect Park neighborhood.

Florence Littman, who serves on the neighborhood’s zoning committee, said she was disappointed with the hearing’s outcome.

“The zoning code is very specific: You’re not supposed to be doing something for one applicant,” she said. “We’re talking now about changing the code for one applicant.”

Oberpriller said although his request was denied, he’s positive about the outcome because an amendment will make CSL’s relocation easier.

“While we didn’t win this particular … parcel, we’re dealing with a real issue now,” he said.

Schiff said most of the problems Prospect Park residents and businesses have with the center are secondary to the real issue of appropriate zoning.

“I think that’s just a reflection of bad management practices,” he said. “We hear complaints about badly managed bars, but that doesn’t mean we ban bars.”