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Monitor In A Minute August 2019

Posted on 11 August 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Midway Amoco faces sanctions
A Hamline-Midway convenience store faces sanctions for selling flavored tobacco products in violation of city regulations. The St. Paul City Council July 24 took action against the tobacco license held by Midway University & Hamline LLC d/b/a Midway Amoco BP, 1347 University Ave. W. but the store owners requested a hearing, so that decision was rescinded Aug. 7.
The business has a troubled past, including incidents of violence, a fatal shooting and license violations.
Ward Four Council Member Mitra Jalali Nelson brought in the request for sanctions, which date from a November 2018 inspection by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. State officials found flavored tobacco products, which cannot be sold in St. Paul convenience stores. The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) then stepped in.
The business owners disputed the finds and requested that city officials hold a legislative hearing, which was done. But the owners didn’t attend the scheduled hearing, so DSI staff sought a default judgment. The administrative law judge who handled the case issued findings and ordered a $500 penalty, but that penalty is now rescinded.

Dwelling wins needed change
A Hamline-Midway dwelling can continue to be used as a triplex, with St. Paul Planning Commission approval of a nonconforming use permit. Andrew Newby, who recently purchased 1614 Hewitt Ave., sought the change. The building had three leases when he purchased it last year.
The property was built as a duplex and has a long history of building improvement, but not all may have been issued city permits under past owners. The building has been used as a triplex since at least 2004.
The Planning Commission reviewed the issue and approved the change July 11, on recommendation of its Zoning Committee., Hamline Midway Coalition also recommended approval.
A nonconforming use permit allows the triplex use to continue. The Planning Commission found that rezoning the property for triplex use would constitute an illegal “spot” rezoning.
The nonconforming use permit is with the condition that the property go through a code compliance inspection, and that it be brought into compliance with all fire and building code requirements.
No one attended a Zoning Committee public hearing or sent letters in opposition to the change.

Community benefits plan takes shape
A long-awaited plan to create a community benefits fund tied to Allianz Field and redevelopment at Midway Center continues to take shape. Since 2016, Hamline Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council (UPDC) have worked with city leaders, Minnesota United FC and area businesses and property owners to develop the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative.
Leaders of the district councils say the fund is now in a position to start actively soliciting donations.
The fund was one of many ideas discussed during planning for the stadium and shopping center redevelopment in 2015-2016. The St. Paul City Council in August 2016 passed a resolution creating a task force to explore the fund’s creation, at the same time it was working with the team on a lease package and other agreements tied to site development.
The task force began meeting in early 2017 and hosted a larger community event to discuss ideas in November 2018. In late June, City Council members Mitra Jalali Nelson and Dai Thao met with stakeholders and district council members to discuss the fund and next steps.
The community benefits fund came out of a larger council resolution introduced by Thao, which also included workforce goals for hiring of minority and women construction workers, ensuring ethnic food vendors were able to be at Allianz Field and involving small businesses in other aspects of stadium development.
Thao noted that the work isn’t done. “We’ve had many positive conversations with potential sponsors of this fund and I’m eager to report back,” he said.
The fund could support projects such as business façade improvements, a marketing campaign for area business and public art. “Placemaking” and wayfinding improvements are also among the ideas that floated to the top.
Those priorities were chosen from a long list of ideas generated by area residents and business owners. “The ideas really ran the gamut,” said Brandon Long, executive director of UPDC. About 900 responses were received, from an online survey and at meetings.
It will be a community advised fund, housed by the St. Paul Foundation. The fund will be governed by a neighborhood-based steering committee, with subcommittees handling project reviews, finance, and marketing and communication.
Grants from the fund are anticipated to be between $5,000 and $50,000.
Minnesota United FC will be a supporter, along with area businesses, industries and individuals. The team, hasn’t announced its level of support.
The fund has four donor levels. Supporters give $1 to $499. Neighbors give $500 to $4,999. Friends are donors at the $5,000 to $49,999 level. Partners would contribute $50,000 to $499,999. Pillars donate $500,000 and up.
Minnesota United FC’s four largest supporter groups in July announced their support of the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative and are using their gifts as a means of encouraging others to get involved. The clubs are Dark Clouds, True North Elite, Red Loons and Dark Gliteratti. The clubs haven’t determined what their individual gifts will be.
Contacts for the fund are brandon@unionparkdc.org or info@hamlinemidway.org

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