West St. Paul City Council chambers

City Council Preview: Jan. 11, 2021

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The first official business meeting of the newly elected City Council includes a series of public hearings on development projects, final approval of the Moreland reconstruction project, and discussion about the residential sign ordinance.

Standard COVID-19 disclaimer: City Council meetings are open to the public again, though the audience is limited, masks are required, and an overflow crowd can watch in the lobby. All meetings are broadcast online and on cable TV. Public comments will be in-person and via call-in.

Development Projects

A number of development projects will come before the City Council, including a laundromat at the former Perkins, a car wash at the former Baker’s Square, and demolition and reconstruction of Bobby and Steve’s Auto World on the corner of Marie and Robert. Another project on the agenda is a conditional use permit for a treatment center for outpatient treatment and counseling coming to an existing building.

A number of residents have expressed frustration about the laundromat and car wash, wanting a broader range of businesses in the city. But the city doesn’t control private property. The city has limited authority with current zoning rules.

Some of those rules are being tested with the proposed laundromat. The Planning Commission approved the plan with the condition that the proposed location of the new building be shifted to abut Robert Street in accordance with the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. A memo from the city attorney’s office notes that direction given during the Planning Commission meeting was incorrect and the city may not be able to require this. City staff leave that condition up to City Council. During the Planning Commission meeting, the developer threatened to withdraw their application when that condition was approved.

(Jan. 8, 2021, 7:35 p.m. Update: New plans for the Tumble Fresh laundromat were submitted Friday that fall in line with the Planning Commission’s condition, so much of this debate may be moot.)

Other Items on the Agenda:

  • Moreland construction: The major road construction project for 2021, Moreland Avenue, will come up for a final approval. This project last came before the Council in November when half a dozen residents complained about some of the details of the project.
  • City manager search: As part of the search for a new city manager, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) will discuss a wrinkle in the chain of command as to whether the Economic Development Executive Director reports to the City Manager or the EDA.
  • West St. Paul brochure: Speaking of the city manager search process, the recruitment brochure gives a nice overview of West St. Paul’s progress in recent years.
  • Signs: Yard signs crop up every election year, but outside of election season (when state law supersedes local law) non-commercial signs are limited within the city. During the Open Council Work Session, Council will discuss the issue, and based on the report to Council (which notes one sign per lot), a lot of residences may not be in compliance. There were 25 violations in 2020 and one fine.
  • Family: A minor ordinance tweak will change the definition of ‘family’ to include domestic partnerships.

The public can watch the meeting live on Town Square TV or cable TV starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday (5 p.m. for the EDA workshop and OCWS).

If you’re unable to attend 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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