May 24, 2021 West St. Paul City Council meeting

City Council Recap: May 24, 2021

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The West St. Paul City Council agreed to relax mask requirements at city hall and passed the first reading of measures to loosen restrictions on tattoo parlors and liquor stores. The city also proclaimed June as LGBTQIA Pride Month and the Women of West St. Paul collected a trunkful of period supplies.

COVID-19 Updates

With the State of Minnesota dropping mask mandates, West St. Paul is going along with state guidelines and will not require masks in city hall. The city will continue to maintain social distancing at city hall, both for staff and Council members but also the community—which means a continuation of limited seating.

The Open Council Work Session (OCWS) meetings were broadcast for the first time during the pandemic, and the City Council is looking to continue that. There will be a shift to a more round-table meeting while still in the Council chambers in order to facilitate broadcasting. There are some details and expenses to work out, but that change will be coming soon.

Period Supply Drive

The Women of West St. Paul (WoW) announced their fourth annual tampon drive, where they are collecting cash donations as well as period supplies including tampons, pads, cups, and more. These items will be donated to Neighbors Inc. and ISD 197 where they are in high demand.

There will be more drop off opportunities in June and Women of West St. Paul will also coordinate supply pick ups.

Period supply drive by the Women of West St. Paul
Period supplies collected by WoW during the West St. Paul City Council meeting.

Tattoo Shops

On a 5-1 vote, City Council approved a measure to drop the 800-foot buffer that limited tattoo and body piercing shops to a very small segment of the city. The change will also allow tattoo shops in the B2 zoning district as a conditional use. There’s still a limit of two tattoo licenses in the city, though Council seemed willing to expand that (any expansion would be a separate and future item). This will come up for a public hearing at the June 14 City Council meeting before it can be officially passed.

“We survived for 132 years without tattooing in the city,” said Council Member Dick Vitelli, the lone ‘no’ vote. “I think it’s foolish for us to open the door.”

Vitelli’s comment about the lack of tattoo shops in West St. Paul’s history isn’t true. While there are currently no tattoo shops, A1 Tattoo opened in 1992 on Robert Street just south of Annapolis. Dakota County acquired the property in 2010 to redevelop (the Gateway Place project is now going in at that space) and A1 moved north on Robert Street to St. Paul—in part because West St. Paul’s restrictions on tattoo shops made it hard to find a suitable space in West St. Paul.

Liquor Stores

Without much debate, City Council approved of the plan to allow liquor stores in the B2 zoning district. This will accommodate a request from an existing liquor store to relocate to the Doddway Center. This will also come up for a public hearing at the June 14 City Council meeting before it can be officially passed.

There was some discussion of putting a cap on the total number of liquor store licenses, but that would also be a separate and future item.

Other Items:

  • State of the City: Mayor Dave Napier delivered the State of the City address last week and during OCWS invited Council members to add their thoughts. Members remarked that there’s a lot to cover and added a few things, with lots of thanks to staff and the community.
  • Pride: The city proclaimed June to be LGBTQIA Pride Month for the third consecutive year.
  • Recognition: The city recognized long-time cablecaster Mike Lamm, who has been on the job producing City Council video for 20 years and is retiring.
  • Renaissance Plan: The Council reviewed ways to reconcile the city’s Robert Street Renaissance Plan with zoning code to alleviate conflicts with developers. Rather than adopting the entire plan, the Council agreed to use it as a guiding document and have Planning Commission review places where the zoning code should be tweaked to align with the plan.
  • Sign: No one spoke during a public hearing for Tumble Fresh laundromat’s digital display sign. City Council approved the request unanimously.
  • Provisional license: Council approved a provisional rental license for 864/866 Dodd, which is a way to address potential issues. In this case it appears to be primarily noise complaints.
  • Let go: The separation agreement with former Community Development Director Jim Hartshorn was passed in the consent agenda. There are no public details as it’s private personnel data.
  • Habitat for Humanity: The empty lot at 1065 Gorman Avenue is slated for a Habitat for Humanity house to break ground in 2022. A representative from Habitat for Humanity shared about their work during OCWS, including 21 projects since 1997. Of those 21 projects, 20 are still owned by the original Habitat homeowner.
  • Bike sale: The West St. Paul Police Department will be holding an auction of more than 70 bikes that have been found or abandoned in the city. The auction is on Wednesday, May 26 at 5 p.m. at 403 Marie Avenue East. Here’s a complete list of the available bikes.
  • No parking: The Council passed a no parking zone in the consent agenda for the north side of Thompson Avenue for 50 feet on either side of Carrie Street to improve visibility and safety.

City Council meetings are currently held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch the OCWS and City Council meetings online.

We’re able to do these City Council recaps thanks to your support.

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