May 22, 2023 West St. Paul City Council meeting

West St. Paul City Council Recap: May 22, 2023

We believe in government transparency and provide these West St. Paul City Council recaps with the support of our members.

West St. Paul City Council debated and ultimately tabled in-depth changes to the sign ordinance in order to fully understand the impacts. They also proclaimed Wayne Ball Day and Pride Month.

Sign Ordinance Changes

Council debated long-coming changes to the sign ordinance. The edits stretch to more than 30 pages and are complicated. The Council’s intention to allow murals in commercial districts had the unintended consequence of also allowing them in residential zones.

Action: Council tabled the changes until June 12 to have more time to understand the impacts.

Key changes:

  • Yard signs: Changing the limit from one yard sign to a total of 10 square feet of signs. While Mayor Dave Napier opposed this change, the rest of the Council appeared to support it.
  • Fences: Signs will be allowed on fences, with limits. Planning Commission recommended reducing fence signage to 3 square feet, which would apply toward the total of 10 square feet. Napier opposed any signs on fences, most of Council seemed in favor of signs on fences and also rejected the 3 square feet limit in favor of keeping the rules simple.
  • Murals: The real complications came with the mural rules, which would allow non-commercial murals across the city, covering up to 25% of a building’s total wall space in commercial zones and residential lots larger than one acre. Residential lots smaller than one acre had a number of limits—10 square foot maximum size, location restrictions, screening requirements, and a limitation on colors. Everyone seemed to be in favor of commercial murals and most seemed comfortable with residential murals as long as the limitations were imposed. The color limits might be dropped, especially with the 10 square foot size limitation.
  • House color: The mural rules also included a rule about the color of your house having to match existing colors in the neighborhood. Several members wanted to strike this rule, both for being too restricting and the language too confusing.
  • More: Plenty of other minor tweaks are included, such as a new definition of sign, content neutral language, allowing semi-transparent window signs, extending the election exemption to include school board elections, and more.

separate article goes into more details and background on the specific changes.

Wayne Ball Day

In honor of long-time resident and beloved youth sports coach Wayne Ball, the Council proclaimed May 22 to be Wayne Ball Day. Ball founded the West St. Paul Men’s Fast Pitch Softball Tournament that ran for 54 years and coached youth baseball and hockey for decades. Ball passed away in January.

  • “He loved the city of West St. Paul,” said one of Ball’s sons, Danny Ball. “He was proud to be part of the city.”
  • “I just want to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” said Ball’s other son, Jerry Ball.

More on the Agenda:

  • Charter changes: Council approved three minor changes to the Charter—selling city property via resolution instead of ordinance (speeds up the process); a clarification that Council members appointed to a vacancy are full members (this codifies standard practice); and language stating that special elections comply with state law.
  • Public hearing: Council held a public hearing (though no one spoke) and passed a reasonable accommodations ordinance that creates a policy and process for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Federal Housing Act.
  • Exterior grant: The Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved a $10,000 exterior improvement grant for the Raddatz Dance Studio building.
  • Mixed use CUP: The Raddatz building was also approved for conditional use permit (CUP) for a third-floor apartment. The building already had an apartment on the second floor, but the addition of the third floor triggered the need for a CUP.
  • Home improvement: During the Open Council Work Session (OCWS), Council discussed changes to the home improvement loan program through NeighborWorks. Launched in 2020, the program has successfully approved one loan, which was signed earlier that day. Council agreed to loosen restrictions, including expanding the eligibility area to city wide, dropping an income floor, and raising the grant maximum to $25,000.
  • Public safety: As one of their initiatives, Council discussed a public safety philosophy during OCWS. Looking beyond police, fire, and EMS, this involves building community, access to services, environmental design, and managing perception.
  • Pride: Council proclaimed June to be LGBTQIA Pride Month. The Pride flag will also be displayed at city hall during the month.


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