Police officer swearing in ceremony at West St. Paul City Council

City Council Recap: Oct. 25, 2021

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West St. Paul City Council swore in two new police officers, gave initial approval to a new townhouse redevelopment plan for the former golf course, and began the process to limit specialty tobacco retailers.

New Police Officers

Police Chief Brian Sturgeon introduced new community service officers, Isabelle Lalor and Nicholas Grundhauser. Community service officers are generally college students pursuing careers in criminal justice. Sturgeon noted that they’re often the busiest people in the department.

Mayor Dave Napier also swore in two new police officers, Garrett Ganskie and Raymond Swanson. These full-time officers will undergo further training for the next several months. Swanson is a West St. Paul resident and Ganskie is biracial, expanding the number of local residents and people of color in the department.

Thompson Oaks Phase II Redevelopment

The east end of the former Thompson Oaks golf course has been slated for townhouse redevelopment. The initial development agreement depended on receiving a state grant for soil clean up, which fell through. Now the city is renegotiating a deal with Oppidan to redevelop the property for 58 market rate townhomes.

The new deal puts most of the soil clean up on Oppidan, though the city could pitch in as much as $600,000. It will depend on the estimates, though on the plus side it’s not anticipated to be out of hand. If the soil clean up can be done within reason, the city would sell the property for $1.

The next step is a public hearing on November 22 with other approvals happening in winter/spring and soil correction work starting summer/fall 2022.

Limiting Tobacco Shops

For the health of the public, the city will be limiting specialty tobacco retailers. We already have two tobacco retailers open and a third received a license earlier this year but hasn’t opened. The city is attempting to proactively limit new tobacco shops from coming in as other cities are restricting or banning these shops, potentially pushing more of them into West St. Paul.

Since the third shop isn’t open yet, Council opted to set the limit at two. Since the third shop has a license and pre-dates this change, they could still open and remain in business. But if they don’t renew their license then the city will be down to just two specialty tobacco retailers.

The first reading passed unanimously with a public hearing coming in November. This is the first in likely several measures to limit or restrict tobacco products, vaping, CBD, and marijuana (in anticipation of statewide legalization).

Other Items on the Agenda

  • Planning Commission: Last week the City Council hashed out details on expanding the Planning Commission from seven to nine members and requiring equal ward representation, while allowing for at-large members when ward-specific members don’t apply. The Council reviewed the proposed language during Open Council Work Session with no questions or discussion. It will come up for official approval in November.
  • Assessment hearings: There were three public hearings for assessments, one for citations, one for miscellaneous charges, and one for this year’s street projects.
  • Renaissance Plan updates: Several updates were made to ordinances to implement and update Renaissance Plan requirements. These include consistent building setbacks, limiting parking that fronts Robert Street, and reducing parking minimums. It passed unanimously and a public hearing will come in November.
  • Business subsidy: The Economic Development Authority (EDA) reviewed the business subsidy policy during a work session. This policy determines what kinds of projects the city will help fund through grants, subsidies, or other financing.
  • Native American Heritage: The Council declared November as Native American Heritage Month.

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 City Council meeting, EDA workshop, and OCWS online.

Here’s the Council video recap from ward 2 Council Members John Justen and Robyn Gulley.

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

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