The proposed mental health crisis center dominated the West St. Paul City Council meeting, though a public hearing and final vote won’t come until December 12. Other topics included zoning for intoxicating THC specialty stores and meeting the city’s newest K-9.
Mental Health Crisis Center
A proposed mental health crisis center is receiving significant pushback from local residents, and the initial public hearing was moved to the December 12 meeting to accommodate a December 1 neighborhood meeting. In order to address questions and streamline the December 12 meeting, Council did receive a presentation on the crisis center and proposed conditions for approval.
Council did not take public comment, which will come on December 12, but did ask Guild and Dakota County a number of questions about the proposal. There’s a helpful FAQ in the agenda packet that addresses many of the common questions.
- Police Chief Brian Sturgeon: “As far as safety, I understand citizens concerns, but history has shown that there haven’t been any issues.”
- City Attorney Kori Land: The city doesn’t have standing to deny it. “These types of facilities, by statute, must be permitted in a residential zoning district.”
- Council Member John Justen: Clarified that it has to go in a residential zone and is not allowed in a commercial or industrial zone.
- Mayor Dave Napier: “Mental health has a bad stigma, and it’s not fair. There’s a lot of services that are needed and having it in our community can actually be a benefit.”
- Council Member Lisa Eng-Sarne: “I would encourage those who are suffering from mental health issues to take care of yourself as you listen to these conversations, some folks have been less than respectful. I hope the respect can continue. It’s going to be a really challenging conversation—and it’s challenging because people care.”
- Council Member Dick Vitelli: “On behalf of myself and the community, I’d like to apologize to anyone suffering with mental health—to have all these daggers thrown at them, it doesn’t help anything, that’s for damn sure.”
City staff did proposed three conditions for the crisis center:
- Transportation: People discharged from the facility have adequate transportation back to their home community.
- In-take policy: Require Guild to share their in-take policy with the city and abide by it.
- Cameras: Add security cameras to cover the entire exterior of the facilty.
There is an information neighborhood meeting on December 1 and then a public hearing and final vote on the project at the December 12 City Council meeting.
Other Items on the Agenda
- K-9: Police Officer Ethan Draz and his K-9 partner Bear completed their 14-week training and were introduced to the community. Bear is certified in tracking, apprehension, and narcotics searching.
- Marijuana: After enacting new ordinances for intoxicating THC products, the Council approved new zoning for where the specialty shops can be located. They went with 1,500 feet from schools, expanding the area a bit from the initially proposed 2,000-foot buffer.
- Stormwater updates: Council updated stormwater ordinances per legal requirements, setting specific storage requirements for salt and de-icers. A second change to lower a water quality treatment threshold to be in line with the Lower Mississippi Watershed Management Organization was tabled so it could go through the Planning Commission first.
- Closed session: There were two closed sessions, one for a performance review of the city manager and another to discuss the sale of the Hy-Vee/YMCA property.
Learn more about how city council works with our Guide to West St. Paul City Council.
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