Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Monitor In A Minute

Posted on 08 March 2018 by Calvin


Update given on survey work
Neighbors interested in a proposed historic survey of the neighborhood around Hamline University got an update Feb. 19, along with an overview of area history.

Despite a snowstorm, there was a good turnout for the Hamline-Midway Reconnaissance Survey. It is a historic survey of properties and identification of historic contexts, development patterns, and historic resources in the Hamline Midway neighborhood.

Those present learned about the project and how they can help provide information. The meeting was part of the regular Hamline University Neighborhood Advisory Committee meeting. An update was to be provided in January but was postponed that month due to a storm.

The project is being followed closely by the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission, which received an update Feb. 22. The survey is being funded through a mix of federal, state, and city funds.

Those present got an update on neighborhood history (including industrial history), and talked about upcoming meetings that will be part of the project.
There will also be additional community outreach.

What could ultimately result hinges on study findings, but the neighborhood could have a district or individual sites designated. The type of designation, such as national or local, could also be decided.

Follow city work on the survey at https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/planning-economic-development/planning/current-activities.

Interim council member named
Samantha Henningson is the interim St. Paul City Council Ward Four member. She was appointed Feb. 14 to replace Russ Stark, who has joined Mayor Melvin Carter III’s administration.

Henningson has worked as Stark’s legislative aide for all of his 10 years in office. She previously worked for Hamline University and is a founder of Women on Bikes. Henningson and her family live in Hamline-Midway neighborhood.

She was chosen from a field of six candidates who interviewed for the interim post. Those who interviewed agreed that if they were chosen they would not seek election to the seat in August.

A new council member will be chosen during the statewide primary election. That person will serve through 2019 (the remaining year-plus of Stark’s term). 2019 is when all seven council seats are on the ballot.

City Council members in St. Paul are part-time and are paid $63,000 year.

Ward Four includes all of Merriam Park, Hamline-Midway, and St. Anthony Park neighborhoods, and parts of Como, and Macalester-Groveland.

Autumn Amadou-Blegen, Scott Banas, Laura LaCroix-Dalluhn, Jon Oppenheimer and John Van Hecke had also interviewed for the interim post.

Approval sought for ‘accessory dwellings’
The topic of accessory dwelling units, such as an apartment in a home or housing above a garage, will be studied by the St. Paul Planning Commission.

On Feb. 7 the City Council approved a study that includes the West 7th, West Side, Frogtown, District One and Mounds Park neighborhoods. In late February Union Park District Council sought to have its neighborhoods added to the study.

Older neighborhoods with larger homes, including Ramsey Hill and Summit Hill, have carriage house apartments or other forms of accessory dwellings that predate the zoning code. Neighborhoods one-half mile north and south of Green Line light rail, except for Frogtown, have newer zoning regulations that allow the units to be added in a home or above a garage.

Ward Seven Council Member Jane Prince sought the study at the behest of Mounds Park residents. But other council members said there is growing interest in studying the dwelling units. The council discussed whether there should be a citywide study, or if the study should only cover areas where there is interest. Some neighborhoods, including Summit Hill and Highland, have fought the idea. The Green Line accessory dwellings proposal drew a mixed reaction in St. Anthony Park.

“From a staff perspective, we need to see if there is community support” before doing a study citywide, said City Planner Jamie Radel. She suggested a series of open houses and events to explain what an accessory dwelling unit is. Community reaction could determine where the studies would continue. But that kind of process would slow down studies for neighborhoods that want the option of accessory dwelling units.

“There are pockets of interest throughout the city,” said former Ward Four Council Member Russ Stark. He heard from constituents who live just outline of the Green Line area where the dwelling units are allowed. Those constituents question why they cannot add the units to their properties.

Changes meant to help small businesses
Changes to the Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) guidelines, meant to help small businesses, won approval Feb. 7 from the St. Paul City Council.

The council, Neighborhood STAR Board, and Department of Planning and Economic Development staff have discussed the changes for a couple of years. Michelle Swanson, the city staff for the program, said the intent is to get more for-profit small businesses involved. A second goal is to fill vacant commercial storefronts. Swanson said projects that occupy vacant storefronts would get favorable consideration during the project review process.

Small businesses will be able to seek grant-only assistance. Grants will have to be matched on a dollar for dollar basis.

Swanson said larger businesses will still have to seek loans or a grant-loan combination. The city will also ease the match requirements for small businesses, with no match at all for loans of up to $50,000. Technical changes are also being made to streamline the reimbursement process.

An informational workshop about the Neighborhood STAR Program and application process was held Feb 14. Applications are being accepted through Wed., Mar. 21, at 4pm.

More than $2.8 million will be available in loans and grants for capital (bricks and mortar) improvement projects in neighborhoods that further economic, commercial or residential development. After a complete review, funding decisions will be announced in July 2018.

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