Worthington City Council approves change of zone for duplexes on Cecilee Street

“...We have a request to construct a duplex on a lot out there…and as it exists right now, we would actually have to deny that request,” said Director of Community Development Matt Selof.

Cecilee Street Zone Change.png
Worthington’s City Council approved a change of zone request for properties located in the newer addition of Cecilee Street which would allow for duplexes to be built on certain properties during their May, 8 2023 meeting.
Worthington City Staff

WORTHINGTON — Worthington’s City Council approved a change of zone request Monday evening for properties located in the newer addition of Cecilee Street. The change would result in going from ‘R-2’ single family, low-density preservation residential to ‘R-4’ medium density residential.

“Essentially ... we have a request to construct a duplex on a lot out there…and as it exists right now, we would actually have to deny that request,” said Director of Community Development Matt Selof, noting that current zoning doesn’t allow for two-family structures on a lot with less than 11,000 square feet. “So the thought is, do we want to restrict everything out there and deny the ability to construct additional housing units out there?”

The change of zone request would extend the R-4 zone on Cecilee Street, as a prior request was approved for two corner lots in 2021. In an R-4 district, the minimum requirement for a two-family structure is 9,000 square feet. The new district would extend out to a remaining R-2 plot, which the city has left open as a future roadway for development in the area and to act as a “breaking point” between the two zoning districts.

Councilwoman Amy Ernst voiced concerns about rezoning the entire section as R-4, opening up the possibility for someone to buy multiple lots and construct apartments in what was intended as an area for single-family homes.

“I don't have a problem with duplexes at all," said Ernst, “But I think it'd be awkward to put an apartment building right in the middle of all those single-family houses.”


Selof stated that between the space requirements for multi-family structures, the placement of utility easements along Cecilee Street, and the locations of the remaining lots for sale, he thought it “very unlikely” anyone would attempt to buy up lots and build an apartment building.

He also noted that the city was somewhat limited by the “almost non-existence” difference between R-1, R-2 and R-3 zones, leaving them with R-4 districts for anything outside the similar parameters of the other residential districts.

“This raises the question of the difficulties that we have with our existing zoning ordinance," said City Administrator Steve Robinson, noting that he and Selof had already discussed this multiple times. “We really need to probably redo our entire zoning ordinance or look at it in great detail. Unfortunately, with our existing zoning ordinance, we don't have a lot of alternatives for someone that might want to build a twin home or duplex.”

The council approved the change of zone unanimously.

Shell Street

The council also received a completed feasibility report for improvements to Shell Street, located between Lake Avenue and Ninth Street. The project would include street reconstruction with plans to leave the curb and gutter as is. Additionally, the proposal considers redoing the sewer services to homes along Shell Street.

“We really don't want to reconstruct the street and then five years — 10 years — later have to dig it all up again to replace sewer lines,” said City Engineer Stephen Schneider. “It makes a lot more sense for us to do it now while it’s ripped up there.”

Also included in the feasibility report was the option for bituminous pavement versus concrete. While bituminous is a lesser expense for the city and property owners who will shoulder part of the cost, Schneider said concrete is likely to have a life expectancy more than double that of bituminous.

“It would probably be more cost-effective from the city’s perspective to have those costs upfront,” he said.


Total estimated project costs came in at $508,807 for bituminous and $598,430 for concrete, with estimated assessments for property owners coming in at $90,940 and $106,940 respectively.

Schneider also said the city’s water department was looking to replace the water main while the street was under reconstruction.

“We think it's a worthwhile project to move ahead with,” he said.

The council accepted the feasibility report and scheduled a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. May 22, in the council chambers.

In other news, the council:

  • Approved the third reading of a proposed ordinance to remove Worthington’s screening requirement for auto repair shops. 
  • Reappointed Jason Johnson to a second three-year term with the Park and Recreation Advisory Board; and appointed Mike Kuhle to fill the unexpired term of Mike Johnson on the Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board. 
  • Awarded a $1,227,500 contract for the Second Avenue Reconstruction Project, which will stretch between 10th Street and 12th Street, to Henning Construction, Inc of Adrian. Henning presented the lowest of two bids received for the project. 
  • Approved plans for the improvement of Lake Street and Nobles Street. The project will include the mill and overlay of the existing bituminous surface and the construction of sidewalk ramps connecting to the streets. The starting date for this project is June 1, with an anticipated substantial completion date of Aug. 18.
  • Approved a change of zone request for property at 1477 Knollwood Drive, which will see the property rezoned from institutional to R-1 single-family detached residential. 
  • Approved a change of zone for the Prairie Justice Center from transitional to B3 general business district. 
  • Learned from Public Works Director Todd Wietzema that emerald ash borers were found in trees near Olson Park and on the north side of Oxford Street, as well as several other areas in, and just outside of, town. A proactive approach is being taken to remove ash trees, Wietzema said, adding that a diverse collection of new trees will be planted. 
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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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