Lino Lakes gives final approval to residential development moratorium, halting proposed mosque-centered community

Additionally, a trio of potential ballot referendums relating to residential developments were deemed to be technically sufficient for possible inclusion in the city's 2024 ballot.

In a Lino Lakes City Council meeting on Monday, members of the council approved a residential development moratorium. (North Metro TV)

In a Lino Lakes City Council meeting on Monday, members of the council approved a residential development moratorium that will halt a proposed mosque-centered residential community known as “Madinah Lakes.” Having been in development for weeks, the one-year moratorium would also halt another nearby development project from Pulte Homes.

In the last several months, the Madinah Lakes proposal has generated significant controversy as the city council considered the project. Described as a “Masjid-centric” community, Madinah Lakes would span roughly 150 acres, contain 434 housing units, and be built in the northwest corner of Lino Lakes.

A 48,400 square foot mosque would be the centerpiece of the community.

Citizens throughout Lino Lakes are opposed to the development, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota (CAIR-MN) and Muslims throughout the Twin Cities have been aggressively advocating for the project.

In a 4-1 vote, the Lino Lakes City Council approved a one-year development moratorium on a portion of the city that includes both Madinah Lakes and the Pulte Homes development. In addition to preventing any development of the land for at least a year, that moratorium will give the city time to further study the area and learn how the housing developments would impact Lino Lakes.

A local citizen group called Love Lino Lakes has been particularly vocal in their opposition to both the Madinah Lakes and the Pulte Homes projects. The citizen group believes the pair of developments would put a strain on local water resources, first responders, infrastructure, and their school district.

As such, Love Lino Lakes has strongly supported the moratorium. The group’s tagline is “slow the grow.”

Conversely, many of the individuals who spoke against the moratorium at Monday’s city council meeting identified themselves as residing outside Lino Lakes when they rose to address the city council.

According to city staff, the residential development moratorium would go into effect 30 days after notification of the measure is published in a local paper. Therefore, the one-year moratorium will likely begin in the middle of August.

CAIR-MN condemned the city council’s vote in a statement, saying, “The Madina Lakes project is an opportunity to foster diversity and meet the growing needs of our community. We are deeply disappointed by this vote, which undermines due process and the principles of equitable governance.”

Additionally, a trio of potential ballot referendums relating to residential developments were discussed at the city council meeting. Two of these potential referendums would amend the city’s charter; the third would add a new ordinance to city code.

The ordinance amendment would require the city to subject potential developers to a rigorous background check involving the developer’s experience, financial stability, licensing, criminal record, and reputation.

Meanwhile, one of the charter amendments would ban residential developments or neighborhoods that are segregated or intended for a specific demographic, and the other charter amendment would limit the number of new housing units that could be built in Lino Lakes every year.

Love Lino Lakes was a major supporter of the three amendments.

In order to be placed on the ballot, the proposed amendments needed the signatures of 1,000 citizens of Lino Lakes. According to a member of Love Lino Lakes, the requisite number of signatures were collected for all three referendums in just five days.

At Monday’s city council meeting, city staff told the council that the necessary signature requirements had been met. In turn, the city council unanimously passed three resolutions by voice vote which affirmed that the petitions for the three amendments were technically sufficient. A further city council meeting will be necessary to determine whether the proposed amendments are legal.

If legal, the two charter amendments and the ordinance amendment would be placed on Lino Lakes’ 2024 ballot. However, the city council could decide to take up the ordinance amendment themselves and approve it without a ballot referendum.

Speaking to Alpha News, Love Lino Lakes said their goal with the background check ordinance “is to ensure that developers in Lino Lakes are legitimate, experienced, credible, and capable of delivering on their promises.”

Regarding the charter amendment designed to ban segregated neighborhoods, the citizen group said they “reject the notion of ‘centric’ neighborhoods, or any development targeted at any specific demographic. All neighborhoods should be open to all.”

Additionally, Love Lino Lakes’ efforts to slow the density and pace of development include a desire to revisit the city’s 2040 plan. Among their objectives, the citizen group seeks to limit all multi-story residential developments to the downtown area, keep commercial enterprises in existing commercial areas, and ensure citizens are able to obtain the largest possible lots for their homes.


Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.