West St. Paul City Council meeting

West St. Paul City Council Recap: March 13, 2023

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

Committee appointments and intoxicating THC ordinances took center stage at the West St. Paul City Council, plus the city made Juneteenth an official holiday.

THC Public Hearing

Council approved the intoxicating THC ordinance and licensing after months of hammering out details. One of the challenges is that the state unexpectedly legalized some forms of intoxicating THC last summer with no regulatory framework. The legislature is expected to pass a regulatory framework this session, though cities are still left in limbo. West St. Paul has been working to create regulation to retain some measure of control to avoid vast proliferation of THC shops.

The final regulations distinguish specialty stores that have more than 10% of sales or retail space for THC products and limits them to two licenses, restricts them to certain zoning districts, and prohibits them within 1,000 feet of schools. The definition of school ultimately included ISD 197’s early learning center but not daycare centers, a point of contention for one of the applicants, Lafayette Tobacco.

Several people spoke during the public hearing, one urging tighter regulation, some decrying the tone of the conversation and what they perceived as derogatory comments about the clientele of THC shops, and then lawyers for Lafayette Tobacco arguing that the rules are overreach.

The two measures were approved unanimously. License applications will be considered at the March 27 meeting, though city staff indicated they’re considering some sort of non-conforming status for Lafayette Tobacco that would allow them to continue selling THC products.

Committee Appointments

City Council filled four vacancies to various city committees and commissions during the Open Council Work Session (OCWS). Applicants for the Environmental Committee and Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee were interviewed, though only one applicant for each open position appeared (more applied but withdrew or couldn’t make the interview). Planning Commission applicants are nominated by the mayor and not interviewed by Council.

  • Environmental Committee: Robyn Anderson
  • Parks and Recreation: John Cronin
  • Parks and Recreation: Nadine Wenzel
  • Planning Commission: Kyle Hoff

(If Cronin sounds familiar, he’s organized a whiffle ball tournament in West St. Paul to raise funds for ALS, going back to 2013.)

Vacancy: One opening is still available on Planning Commission. Mayor Dave Napier originally had two names nominated in the agenda packet, both from Ward 1, but he said he was only moving one forward so he could keep looking for a nominee from Ward 2. The city previously received 12 applications expressing interest in Planning Commission, with two from Ward 2. If you’re interested, you can apply here.

Ward balance: The issue of balancing membership among wards came to the forefront in 2021 with a veto battle that ultimately expanded committee membership and encouraged but did not require ward balance. With the latest appointment, Planning Commission’s nine-member body has three from Ward 1, one from Ward 2, four from Ward 3, and one vacancy.

Other Items on the Agenda

  • Smith-Dodd overlay: During OCWS, City Council discussed the Smith-Dodd overlay and potential implications it will have on a proposed business redevelopment. Mayor Napier requested the discussion, though without specifics Council members were reluctant to consider any changes. The issue is parking, where the Smith-Dodd overlay offers more flexibility.
  • Stormwater tweaks: A series of changes to move stormwater regulations from zoning to ordinances, cleaning up some language, and tightening restrictions was approved with no comment during the public hearing
  • Zoning changes: Council gave final approval to change zoning on various parcels to better match planning documents, zoning, and the current reality.
  • Juneteenth: With the state of Minnesota officially recognizing Juneteenth, West St. Paul recognized June 19 as an official holiday.

You can watch the City Council and OCWS meetings online.

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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