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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Monitor In A Minute – May 2019

Posted on 12 May 2019 by Tesha Christensen

by Jane McClure

Convenience store is fined
An area convenience store must pay a $500 fine, as a result of St. Paul City Council action April 17. The council fined Midway Amoco BP, which is located at 1347 University Ave., and didn’t request a hearing or challenge the fine.
The fine stems from an incident in fall 2018. The city’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) received a notice of seized contraband letter from the Minnesota Department of Revenue dated Nov. 13, 2018. State officials seized products at the store in September 2018. Flavored Babbo products were found to be offered for sale or held as inventory at the store, without an invoice from a licensed seller, and were seized as contraband under state law.
The city’s regulations allow for the city to take action of its own if such contraband is found. The city opted to assess a $500 fine.
Midway Amoco BP had until March 22 to challenge the fine or seek a hearing, either before the City Council or a legislative hearing officer, but chose not to do so.

Liquor laws are changed
Two of St. Paul’s remaining “blue laws” are no more, as a result of St. Paul City Council action April 17. Liquor can now be sold within 300 feet of religious institutions throughout the city. In the downtown area, liquor can be sold within 300 feet of a school. The sales apply to restaurants with on-sale liquor licenses and liquor stores.
The changes, which won unanimous City Council approval, strike down regulations that have been in place since the 1960s. Schools and places of worship have long had to the ability to veto on-sale liquor licenses or liquor stores that are within 300 feet of their locations. Requests made for licenses within the 300-foot zone also needed at least five of seven City Council votes for approval.
The changes didn’t draw public comment, and no one attended public hearings earlier in April to speak for or against the changes.
Ward Two Council Member Rebecca Noecker brought the changes forward. She said the changes and other regulatory issues she is working on will help make it easier for downtown businesses to operate.
Another change is one the city has to make. The liquor regulation centered on places of worship removes city legislative code language that has been found to be unconstitutional.
The changes came forward after a disagreement between the Gray Duck Tavern at Wabasha and Fourth St. and the St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, a charter school at 16 W. Fifth St. The liquor license for Gray Duck was approved in 2017 after an extensive building renovation. Charter school officials objected in December 2018, noting that they hadn’t been asked to weigh in on the matter. School officials asked the city to suspend liquor sales at the restaurant. The city declined to do so.
The school has operated at its downtown location since 2013. It is in the same building as the Pazzaluna restaurant and is within a short distance of other restaurants with liquor licenses.
The new regulations indicated that schools within the downtown business district will still be notified if a liquor license holder is moving in. Schools still can raise concerns about a liquor license.

Peace Park wins grant
The Midway Peace Park in Lexington-Hamline neighborhood will receive an additional $180,000 from Capitol Region Watershed District. The St. Paul City Council accepted the funding April 17. That bumps project funding up to $3.18 million.
The watershed district works with the city on issues including water runoff, drainage, rain gardens and other needs.
The park is located on the east side of Griggs St. between University and St. Anthony avenues. The park has been several years in the making and was originally proposed as a project by students at Gordon Parks High School. City officials have worked with the Trust for Public Land to purchase the property for transformation into a park. It was used as surplus parking space by Midway auto dealers for many years.
The park is near the Skyline Towers high-rise apartments, and near senior house owners and operated by Episcopal Homes. It is in an area that was eyed during Green Line light rail development for added green space.

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