West St. Paul Mayor Dave Napier swears in Police Officer Cole Rach

West St. Paul City Council Recap: August 22, 2022

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

The West St. Paul City Council discussed regulations for marijuana products, held public hearings for unpaid fines and assessments, and approved the site plan for the proposed Cafe Zupas.

Marijuana Products

During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), Council discussed the regulation of marijuana products. In previous meetings, Council implemented a moratorium on the expansion of sales in the hopes of putting a regulatory framework in place. The goal is to be able to regulate sales, not prohibit them. The discussion covered basic guidelines, including licensing, zoning, and regulations. The issue will come back before OCWS with more detail before moving forward.

Cafe Zupas

Council approved a site plan for the proposed Cafe Zupas in front of Cub Foods. Discussion centered around pedestrian access and a proposed mural. City code limits the scope of the mural, though changes are coming soon and it’s likely Cafe Zupas will be able to adjust their plans to take advantage of any relaxation of the commercial sign ordinance.

One resident did speak out against excessive parking and encouraged Cafe Zupas to eliminate pull through spaces for drive thru overflow and add more landscaping.

Other Items on the Agenda

  • Fines: Council held public hearings on various unpaid fines and assessments. Most were for false alarm calls to the police (first three are waived, fines start after that), snow clearing, and more. One home racked up $5,000 in fines for a garage mural that violates the sign ordinance and still hasn’t been removed (we reported on the mural last fall). Two residents showed up to plead their case, one on an issue with unsheltered storage and another for snow clearing. Both were continued to the next meeting so staff could do more research, while all other fines and assessments were approved.
  • Fire district: South Metro Fire presented the option of creating a fire district. This would be a new government entity that would make South Metro more independent. Pros include the ability to levy taxes/bonds and transparency (as taxes for fire services would appear as a line item on property taxes), though cons include lack of compelling necessity right now. City Manager Nate Burkett said the proposal would likely be revenue neutral, unless another city were to join (which isn’t very likely in the near term).
  • Opioid funds: During the OCWS Council discussed disbursement of opioid settlement funds. West St. Paul and South St. Paul combined have the most overdoses in the county per capita, while still being only the fifth most populous area (the cities are combined because the numbers come from South Metro Fire and there wasn’t an easy way to separate them). Cities under 30,000 will not receive any of the funds, but Dakota County theoretically is receiving money on our behalf and Council recommends an equal disbursement of that money.
  • Police: A new police officer, Cole Rach, was sworn in during the City Council meeting.
  • Pink: The West St. Paul Police Department and South Metro Fire also give an update on the annual police vs. fire charity hockey game, as well as the Pink Patch Project to benefit the American Cancer Society.

You can watch the City Council and OCWS meetings online. You can also watch the video recap from Ward 2 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 neighborhood news in West St. Paul.

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