West St. Paul

City Council Preview: July 13, 2020

We provide these West St. Paul City Council previews with your support.

West St. Paul’s City Council is meeting for the second time in person since the COVID-19 pandemic. The hot topic is the proposed apartments at the former K-mart site, but there’s also progress on a conversion therapy ban and some potential news for chicken fans.

More COVID-19 Accommodations

As the City Council continues with their return to in-person meetings, more accommodations are being made for COVID-19. Once again the audience will be severely limited to achieve social distancing (last time it was 10 people, first come, first served) and overflow will be provided in the lobby and conference room.

For the first time, all three meetings—the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), the official City Council meeting, and the Economic Development Authority (EDA) work session will be broadcast on cable and online as well as on screens in the lobby and conference room.

Public comments during the official City Council meeting (there are no public comments during the OCWS or EDA work session) will require signing up ahead of time or calling in during the meeting. The call-in option was available when meetings were happening digitally and they’re bringing it back.

Proposed Apartments at Former K-mart Site

The most anticipated item on the agenda is the Signal Hills apartment project during the EDA work session. These are two apartment buildings for workforce and senior housing on the former K-mart and bank sites. During the last meeting Council asked for more specifics on the numbers so they could make a better decision. Along with an informational meeting earlier this week from the developer, Dominium, the City Council received a wealth of information in their packet.

This topic has been rehashed repeatedly and we’ve covered it extensively, so we’ll avoid going into detail right now—here’s our detailed write-up of the issues. The biggest sticking points seem to be complaints from two sides—West St. Paul not needing more apartments (we do) and concerns over the $5 million tax incremental financing (TIF) subsidy for a developer with a reputation questioned by some.

This project is getting special attention from local unions because the project didn’t initially meet prevailing wage requirements. The city didn’t initially inform Dominium of those requirements, and now the project is providing a prevailing wage.

On the Agenda

  • Conversion therapy ban: Multiple residents have pushed for a conversion therapy ban and the Council will consider it during the OCWS meeting.
  • Mid-year update: The Council will approve a 2020 Mid-Year Update, which gives a detailed look at how the Council is doing on their strategic initiatives.
  • Housing plan: The OCWS will review the city’s housing plan, which is timely for anyone who wants to know more about housing needs in West St. Paul.
  • Chickens!: Current ordinance requires small farm animals to be kept at least 100 feet from other residences, which means most city lots are too small for chickens. The Council will consider revising this during the OCWS meeting.
  • Snow removal: There will be a public hearing during the official Council meeting to consider assessments for sidewalk snow removal along Robert Street.
  • Hy-Vee and trail: A couple property sales related to the Hy-Vee and River-to-River Greenway trail projects will come up during the Council meeting with public hearings at the July 27 meeting. These should be routine.
  • Council salary: At the last OCWS meeting the Council consented to a 2.75% salary increase over the next two years. Now it’s coming up for approval and will have a public hearing at the July 27 meeting.
  • What’s coming: The OCWS also provides a peek at the backlog of items to discuss, including progress on the pedestrian plan and ranked choice voting.

The public can watch the meeting live on Town Square TV or cable channel 18 starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 13, 2020 (5 p.m. for the OCWS).

If you’re not able to attend the meeting in person, you can always use our coloring pages to imagine you’re there.

Keep City Council previews and recaps coming by supporting West St. Paul Reader.

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