Joseph Giant, city planner
Development Services, Community Planning and Economic Development
Senior city planner John Smoley nominated Giant for the positive influence he has had on the City’s urban planning efforts:
“From the moment Giant arrived three years ago, he has led by example, working overtime to solve persistent problems. His work identifying and researching owner rights to billboards and nonconforming surface parking lots created a highly positive environment for planners and applicants alike, saving research time for both parties and proactively deterring public hearings typically required to establish nonconforming (grandfathered) rights.
“Giant’s skill with geographic information systems far exceeds those of most planners, and his willingness to share his knowledge in this area helps bring out the best in others. He goes above and beyond the call of his duties to compile data and prepare maps for his colleagues, enabling them to quickly and accurately confirm spacing requirements between sensitive uses that are closely monitored by the Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services.
“Both Giant’s maps and his presentation skills are frequently used in public meetings to influence positive change through the development of long-range planning initiatives like rezoning studies. Giant’s cool composure and excellent research skills have brought him great success in influencing change through nonconforming use applications, variances and challenging enforcement actions, where these case-by-case requests for ‘exceptions to the rules’ require clear understanding of planning theory and reasonable, local applications of it.
“Giant’s willingness and ability to generate and support new ideas and change is nowhere more evident than in his participation on the City’s accessory dwelling unit development team. This effort has simultaneously:
Helped conserve Minneapolis’ traditional low-density residential building stock.
Improved residents’ ability to age in place.
Created more effective spaces for intergenerational care.
Improved the City’s ability to achieve its density goals.
Created a path to legalization for unpermitted duplexes and triplexes.
Created new sources of income for interested homeowners by allowing an additional, subordinate dwelling unit in homesteaded single family residences and duplexes.
“Architecture Minnesota magazine lauded the effort, noting other positive effects that include ‘increased demographic diversity in neighborhoods and increased efficiency of roads and public infrastructure through the simple math of greater population density within a service area.’ ”
Published Apr 19, 2016