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Monitor In A Minute June 2019

Posted on 14 June 2019 by Tesha Christensen


Two Roy St. houses (at 400 and 396 N. Roy St.) will be torn down to make way for parking to replace those being lost at Bremer Bank. A new six-story, 152-apartment mixed used development will break ground soon at the Bremer site. (Photos by Tesha M. Christensen)

Organized collection fight goes on
St. Paul’s organized trash collection system must be put to a vote, Ramsey County District Court Judge Leonardo Castro ruled May 30. That’s a big win for the group St. Paul Trash. Three of its members sued the city earlier this year to put the residential trash collection system to force a ballot question.
The ruling orders the city to honor the petition and place the trash collection question on the Nov. 5 ballot, or go to a special election. It also orders that organized collection be suspended as of June 30.
Castro’s memorandum attached to his ruling scolded the city for not following its own city charter procedures. “This court has already established that the referendum supports an important public purpose because it ensures that the constitution of St. Paul is being a followed and protects voter rights,” Castro wrote.
But Mayor Melvin Carter said the city will appeal, and that organized collection will continue. The city could wind up dipping into budget reserves to support the program, at a cost of about $13 million.
Haulers have asked property owners to wait and see what happens. Robert Stewart, whose family owns Highland Sanitation, said that haulers have been overwhelmed with calls since the ruling was announced.
Stewart posted on social media, “Please don’t call to set up service just yet. None of the haulers in St. Paul will be creating accounts until this has been appealed by the city and is finalized with absolute certainty and with the small haulers like us, Pete’s or Gene’s getting hundreds of phone calls at this point in time when we as businesses don’t know exactly what is going to happen is difficult.”
“The city of St. Paul has received the ruling on the St. Paul trash lawsuit and is assessing the impact it has for the city, and its residents,” said City Attorney Lyndsey Olson in a statement. She also cited potential impacts on taxpayers. “We will continue to work with the consortium to ensure trash service continues for our 70,000 households.”
The city has until June 30 to appeal and could seek an injunction blocking the June 30 organized collection suspension date. Foes of organized collection and their attorney Gregory Joseph said they anticipate an appeal. But the St. Paul Trash group savored its victory, with a toast May 30 at Tin Cup’s on Rice Street.
“This is a win not only for the people of Saint Paul, but also for the voters in charter cities across Minnesota,” said Joseph. He represents plaintiffs Robert Clark, Peter Butler and Ann Dolan. They sued the city in February.
Last year organized collection foes collected 6,469 signatures asking that residents be allowed to vote on the ordinance. But the City Council used legal arguments to reject the petition, including contractual law and state statues on organized collection.

Midway Saloon licenses set
One of the newest entertainment businesses to open near Allianz Field won approval for needed city licenses in May. Midway Saloon, 1567 University Ave., was granted its licenses by the City Council May 8.
The business had been allowed to operate under existing licenses until a final decision was made. The licenses are for on-sale liquor, Sunday on-sale liquor, 2 a.m. closing, entertainment and gambling/pulltabs.
David Tolchiner owns both 1553 and 1567 University, two longtime neighborhood bars. 1553 has already been through a city review and approval process.
City licensing officials held a legislative hearing earlier this spring after neighbors raised concerns. Hamline Midway Coalition recommended waiving a 45-day notification period for the licenses.
City licensing staff asked for conditions on the 1567 University licenses, including a video surveillance camera and lighting placement plan, daily inspection and clean-up around the property and work with police on video and lighting plans.
The businesses Tolchiner has purchased were long known as Hot Rod’s and Christensen’s. He is upgrading both businesses. 1553 University is now Gibson’s.
One neighbor appeared at the legislative hearing and while expressing support for the new businesses, asked for additional security as well as ways to address potential spillover lighting and noise issue. Tolchiner said he is willing to work with neighbors on any concerns.

Health club license OK’d
A Prior Avenue health club was granted its needed licenses May 8 by the St. Paul City Council. The owner of Strength Collective, 755 N. Prior Ave., Unit 235C, will continue to work with neighbors on parking concerns.
Club owner Jenny Halstead went before a legislative hearing officer earlier this spring. She is a longtime personal trainer and will own and operative Strength Collective as a co-working gym for personal trainers. Trainers will all be certified and know CPR. Consistent business hours will be offered.
755 N. Prior is a former canning factory complex with several successful businesses. Neighbors to the east have raised concerns about spillover parking. A representative of building ownership said the owners are using signage to direct patrons and have a longer-term plan to build a multi-tenant parking structure. Also in the works is a plan for an area shuttle bus and off-site employee parking, especially for Can-Can Wonderland and Black Stack Brewery.

Houses make way for parking
Two Roy Street houses will be torn down to make way for parking, as a result of a St. Paul Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) decision May 20. The board approved variances needed for Central Baptist Church, 420 N. Roy St., despite the objections of a neighbor who doesn’t want to see the homes torn down.
The BZA decision is final unless it is appealed to the City Council within 10 days.
The BZA vote was 5-0 in favor of the variances. “I understand the desire to not lose housing,” said BZA Member Joyce Maddox. “But there is also a need for parking.” One neighbor opposed the demolition of homes, saying that housing should be preserved. He also said that the loss of housing would negatively affect area property values.
The 43-space parking lot planned south of the church needs two variances. The properties are zoned for residential use. Off-street parking isn’t allowed in a required front yard. The minimum front yard setback is 23 feet nine inches. A setback of 4.7 feet is proposed, for a variance of 19 feet two inches. The second variance is for a size yard setback. A minimum of nine feet is required, a setback of 4 feet seven inches is proposed, and a variance of four feet three inches is needed.
The houses are at 400 and 396 N. Roy St. Both are owned by the church and have been used to house people with ties to the church over the years.
The church has a handful of parking spaces along the Fry-Snelling Ave. alley. It has used parking spaces at nearby Bremer Bank for several years. The Pitch, a six-story, 152-apartment mixed-use development planned by Wellington Management, won Planning Commission approval this spring and is poised to break ground later this year.
The loss of the Bremer spaces prompted church leaders to look at parking options. At one point church members and Wellington Management looked at building a shared parking structure on the church property. Instead, the church will build its own parking lot, in part to meet the needs of elderly church members.
“The loss of the Bremer spaces, especially on Sunday mornings, is going to be a hardship for us,” said Joel Lawrence, senior pastor at Central Baptist Church. He said the church needs parking throughout the week, but demand is heaviest on Sundays.
City staff and Union Park District Council recommended approval of the variances.

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