West St. Paul City Council Preview: Jan. 24, 2022

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

With the omicron variant of COVID-19 surging, West St. Paul City Council will consider enforcing a mask mandate at their meeting on Monday. Other agenda items include ordinance changes to require fewer public hearings and allow free-standing solar power units, as well as appointing residents to city committees.

Potential Mask Mandate

During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), West St. Paul City Council will consider a mask mandate in light of the omicron surge of COVID-19. There are several options here, from a mask mandate to a resolution encouraging people to wear masks.

One potential issue is a lack of enforcement. There aren’t enough resources to enforce the ordinance. The best they can do is send letters and only do inspections for an “egregious offense.” Another consideration is reporting that suggests the current wave is beginning to subside.

Currently eight Minnesota cities have mask mandates, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, and Golden Valley. Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, and Edina have passed resolutions strongly encouraging the use of masks.

Fewer Public Hearings

Currently site plans and conditional use permits require two public hearings, one before Planning Commission and one before City Council. City staff propose reducing the requirement to a single public hearing at the Planning Commission. This can help streamline the process and reduce costs. City Council could always invite public comment at their discretion.

Planning Commission discussed the measure earlier this week and approved it unanimously. They also held a public hearing where no one spoke.

Other Items on the Agenda:

  • Planning Commission appointments: Mayor Dave Napier is appointing two people from Ward 1 to serve on the Planning Commission—Alex Dahlquist and Lance LaRue. These are the first appointments to the newly expanded Planning Commission.
  • Reappointment: Three members of the Environmental Committee—Cindy Joanning, Constance LaCombe, and Jade Pennig—will likely be reappointed (the item is currently on the consent agenda). There are also four vacancies on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee that will be considered in February. You can apply now for those positions.
  • Solar power: A first reading for an ordinance to allow free-standing solar power systems.
  • City hall remodel: Council will accept a bid of $1.24 million for the city hall remodel project.
  • West St. Paul Days: Look for an update during OCWS on the proposed “Explore West St. Paul Days” event planned for August to replace the former West St. Paul Days.
  • Townhouses: There will be closed sessions during the Economic Development Authority (EDA) work session and regular meeting to consider the sale of property on Crawford for proposed townhouses.
  • TIF/Tax abatement: If you ever wanted to know more about tax increment financing or tax abatement, the EDA works session will include a presentation.
  • Annual report: EDA will hear an update on and approve the 2021 annual report.

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 work session).

Learn more about how city council works with our Guide to West St. Paul City Council.

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

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