Meetings and Announcements:
• The next City Council meeting will be held virtually on Monday, March 22nd with start time of 7 pm.
• At the meeting on March 22nd meeting we will have a closed session at 6 pm to discuss Labor Contract negotiations.
Updates from Staff and Council
Code Enforcement Update
Community development has been reviewing changes to the city’s code enforcement program in response to the council’s direction at the February 22nd council meeting. We are considering two additional tools to respond to code violations in the community – administrative citations and nuisance abatement.
Community development staff met with Martin Norder with Kelly & Lemmons and Dave Anderson at Kennedy & Graven to discuss the benefits and drawbacks to both the criminal and administrative citation processes. The administrative citation process provides benefits over the criminal process including: (1) incentivizing quicker resolution of code enforcement violations; and (2) reducing delays associated with the criminal court process. Dave Anderson reviewed our current administrative offenses ordinance and recommended that our ordinance be updated. The next step is to draft an ordinance amendment and reach out to other cities that utilize administrative citations to gain an understanding of administering a citation program and to determine appropriate fines and fees. We expect to have a first draft of the ordinance prepared by the end of March at which point we will determine a timeline for council review of the ordinance.
In addition to the administrative citation process, we have reviewed the option of abating nuisances on properties that have longstanding, ongoing, and unresolved code enforcement cases. For simple abatements such as long grass complaints, we can utilize the city’s current nuisance abatement ordinance. However, for significant abatement cases which include the potential removal of personal property, the city attorney recommends that the city determine a property is hazardous and have the city council adopt an abatement order. After council approval of the abatement order, the city would pursue a court order to proceed with abatement. We expect to have the first abatement order for a property on the council agenda in April.
MnDOT Highway 36 Micro Surface Project
MnDot contacted the City about their upcoming Highway 36 Micro Surface project. The project will take place between 35W and Edgerton Street. The project is set to start around Mid-May and finish around July 1st. There are no hard closures planned at this time. Most of the project will be done as night work (7pm to 7am) with lane closures. There may be times where some turn lanes may be closed for a period of time, but this would be late at night. Additionally, on/off ramps may be closed for short durations at night.
Warm Weather Brings Spring Maintenance Work
I think everyone was happy to see the warm weather we have had the last several days following the last long cold stretch we had. The warm weather also brings the start of spring maintenance work. Crews have started street sweeping activities, pothole patching, boulevard tree trimming, and sanitary sewer main maintenance. A lot of this work is weather dependent and will continue unless winter weather returns to Minnesota.
MnDOT Virtual Open House Meeting – Hwy61/Hwy 5
MnDOT will be hosting two virtual open house meeting for their future Stillwater Road/Hwy 5 project (see attached project information flyer). Work on Minnehaha Avenue and Stillwater Road (Hwy) in Maplewood is schedule to take place in 2023 with work on Arcade Street (Hwy 61) in 2024. Both projects include repaving, sidewalk repairs, and improvements to provide accessibility.
The virtual open houses will be held at the following times:
- Thursday, March 18, 2021 @ 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
- Register at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dSgxzAg8Q9qk_rQtQH-guA
- Tuesday, March 23, 2021 @ 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.
- Register at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vBqlNxzcRSSfMakqU6AYhA
This project is still in the very early stages of development and more information on the following items will be provided as the project moves forward. As part of the project development process municipal consent will be requested by MnDOT which requires a public hearing. It is anticipated that this will take place spring/early summer of 2021. MnDOT is reviewing potential acquisition of land owned by the City of Maplewood for ponding purposes. The land is currently being used for stormwater purposes. It is likely that Maplewood will have cost participation role with this project and it will be accounted for in the preparation of this year’s CIP update.
PARKS AND RECREATION
2021 Arbor Day Tree Sale Sold Out
The City of Maplewood partnered with Tree Trust, a local non- profit, for our annual Arbor Day Tree Sale. This program enables city residents to purchase trees for a discount. Hundreds of trees in Maplewood die each year due to development, pests and diseases, environmental conditions, age, and other factors. To help ensure the long-term health and sustainability of our urban forest, the City subsidizes the cost of trees through an annual tree sale.
Tree orders in 2021 were phenomenal! Hard copies of the tree order forms were available from city hall and public works last Friday, March 5. Online ordering began Monday, March 8 at 8:00am. Trees were flying off the shelf, with 45 ordered within the first 30 minutes! All 150 trees sold out in three days this year, with the red buds, fruit tree duo and river birch selling out first. Tree Trust created a waiting list for residents who were unable to order the tree of their choice. Those orders will be filled in the event of any cancelations. Next year will look at options for purchasing a greater number of trees.
These are the reports for this week. Please call if I can address any questions or concerns.
Day Light Savings time begins on Sunday- spring forward. Longer days are here!