West St. Paul City Council Preview: Jan. 23, 2023

Thanks to Cherokee Service, Southview Animal Hospital, and West St. Paul Chiropractic for their support.

West St. Paul City Council will hire a new city attorney, discuss committee appointments, and discuss an occupancy exception for Net Ministries, as well as hold a public hearing for the sale of bonds for the Hy-Vee property.

New City Attorney

In November, City Council approved getting bids for a new city attorney contract. Earlier this month city staff interviewed three firms and recommended Council interview two finalists. City Council will be hiring Kennedy and Graven to serve as the new city attorney, replacing Levander, Gillen, and Miller, the firm that has served the city for nearly 30 years.

Pam Whitmore will serve as lead city attorney with Sam Ketchum and Mary Tietjen serving as assistant City Attorneys. Ketchum will cover City Council meetings and Whitmore will cover Planning Commission and Charter Commission meetings.

The Council agenda notes that because of different billing approaches, it’s hard to directly compare costs of the two firms, though they are roughly similar.

Bonds for Hy-Vee Property

City Council will hold a public hearing for the issuing of bonds for the Hy-Vee/YMCA property. In December, Council approved the purchase of the Hy-Vee property since a development deal had not been reached by the closing date for the purchase. The property was purchased with existing fonds and now the city will issue bonds to reimburse those funds.

The goal is to recoup the cost of the bonds when the Hy-Vee property is ultimately sold to a developer. This approach gives the city full control over the redevelopment.

Other Items on the Agenda:

  • Committee appointments: There are multiple openings on the Planning Commission, Environmental Committee, and Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, though the exact numbers depend on whether existing members whose terms are up will be reappointed. During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), Council will discuss whether to reappoint those members or not, leading to an open call for applications for whatever open positions remain. One of the issues is ward balance among committee members, which is currently skewed to Ward 3 after the redistricting process.
  • Net Ministries: During OCWS, Council will discuss whether to extend an occupancy exception for a single family home owned by Net Ministries. The organization owns several single family homes adjacent to their campus that were rezoned to allow for greater occupancy of unrelated people. One of the homes is not adjacent to the campus, but they were given temporary permission to exceed occupancy there with a plan to purchase another adjacent home where they have right of first refusal. The timeline has expired without purchasing the adjacent home, and the homeowner is still willing to sell when they eventually move out, so Net Ministries is seeking an extension of the existing arrangement.
  • Economic Development Authority: Immediately following the regular Council meeting is a short Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting to elect officers and approve the annual report.

The public can watch the meeting live on Town Square TV or cable TV starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday (5:30 p.m. for the OCWS meeting).

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

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