West St. Paul City Council meeting

West St. Paul City Council Recap: March 28, 2022

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Mostly routine business for the West St. Paul City Council, including final approve of new ward maps. Though the city did begin a debate on whether or not to relax the restriction on yard signs.

A local Scout troop attended the meeting as they worked on their civics merit badges, encouraging the Council to explain their actions more thoroughly than normal.

Yard Signs

Last year the city lost a challenge to the sign ordinance and could no longer enforce their ‘one sign per yard’ rule. In November, Council approved a return to the ‘one sign per yard,’ but only as a stop gap measure until changes could be discussed. During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), Council started that conversation.

The main question is whether or not to increase the number of signs and/or the allowed size of signs.

  • Council Member John Justen proposed focusing on a total allowed square footage for signs and not getting hung up on a specific number of signs. So if six square feet is the max, you can have as many signs as you want as long as the total square footage is under six feet.
  • Council Member Robyn Gulley proposed treating flags the same as signs, since currently flags are completely unregulated. As Gulley points out, you can get a flag that says anything you want, so why not treat them the same.
  • Mayor Dave Napier and Council Member Dick Vitelli were both opposed to changes and were content to leave things as is, though Vitelli was in agreement on treating flags like signs.

Staff will take a look at the flag issue and consider the square footage proposal and bring something back to Council at a future meeting.

Other Items on the Agenda:

  • Ward boundaries: Council approved new ward boundaries to bring the city in line with the 2020 census and balance population between wards. The shift will move about a thousand residents into new wards to balance population. Dakota County is required to send notice to those residents, though the city will also work to get the word out, including mailings and potentially door knocking. No one from the public spoke on the topic.
  • Ice arena: Council approved the site plan for the proposed expansion to the ice arena and also approved purchase of roof top units, a move designed to help the project stay on track.
  • Charter tweaks: Relatively minor tweaks to purchasing power dictated by the Charter were approved.
  • Strategic plan: During OCWS, Council briefly reviewed the strategic plan. There’s also a progress update if you want to get deep in the weeds on what the city is accomplishing.
  • Loading docks: Council considered a proposed amendment that tweaks where loading docks can be located in industrial zones, approving the first reading.
  • Development: The Economic Development Authority (EDA) workshop held a closed session to discuss a purchase offer for 1619 Oakdale Avenue, a large house and yard on the southwest corner of Oakdale and Wentworth. The land is zoned industrial, so the city is likely looking toward controlling future development.

Town Square TV had some technical issues, so the live stream had no audio and the recorded version is not yet available. It should be available soon. You can watch the City Council and OCWS meetings online. For more insights, watch the video recap from Council Members Robyn Gulley and John Justen.

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

Thanks to our members for enabling us to do these city council recaps. Join them and support local news in West St. Paul.

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