COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: September 17th, 2021
Meetings and Announcements:
The next City Council meeting will be held on Monday, September 27th
- 5:30 PM Workshop – Boards and Commission Interviews. We have many strong candidates for each spot.
- 7:00 PM – City Council Meeting
Please note that the date for the City Council staff retreat has been set for Thursday, October 7th, 8:30 to 4:30. Location will be Wakefield. Additional details to come at a later date.
Save the Date: Fire prevention week is October 3-9, 2021. The fire department will be hosting an open house on Saturday October 9th from 11am-2pm. There will be fire prevention demonstrations, food and activities for all ages. A flyer with additional information will be distributed in the next week, but we wanted to get the event on everyone’s calendar.
PARKS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area Ordinance - Submitted by Shann Finwall, Environmental Planner
The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) spans 72-miles from the City of Ramsey to the City of Hastings. One hundred forty-five acres of land on Maplewood’s southwest corner is located in the MRCCA. It consists of 75 percent open space (Ramsey County and Fish Creek open space sites), and 25 percent single-family residential (35 single-family homes and one vacant single family lot located along Carver Avenue and Dorland Road). Of the 35 single-family homes, 18 homes were constructed near a bluff as identified on the MRCCA Natural Features Map.
The state rules and local MRCCA zoning regulations have been in place since 1973 to protect the natural resources in the corridor. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) updated the rules in 2017 to more consistently protect habitat, scenic views and water quality, and allow development to address contemporary needs. Local governments within the corridor are required to amend their MRCCA ordinances to be consistent with the new rules and adopted comprehensive plans. Maplewood is required to amend our ordinance by October 2021.
The DNR drafted a model ordinance that addresses the new rules. Over the last year the Environmental and Natural Resources Commission has been updating Maplewood’s MRCCA to be consistent with the new rules and model ordinance. The open space sites within the MRCCA must be consistent with the City’s adopted comprehensive plan, and will not be impacted by the new rules. Land use in the single-family residential areas will be minimally impacted by the new rules as follows:
- Single family homes and garages must maintain the following setbacks to a bluff:
- 100-foot setback (current ordinance requires a 40-foot setback).
- An average setback of the home and garage on adjoining lots (current ordinance does not allow averaging), as long as the structure is not in the bluff impact zone (20 feet to the bluff line).
- Sheds under 200 square feet and decks may encroach 15 percent into the required setback (current ordinance does not allow encroachments), as long as the structure is not in the bluff impact zone (20 feet to the bluff line).
- Nonconformities (homes and garages that were built closer to the bluff than the new regulations allow):
- All legally-established nonconforming structures may remain (same as current ordinance).
- All legally-established nonconforming homes and decks may be expanded laterally (current ordinance does not allow lateral expansion), as long as the structure is not in the bluff impact zone (20 feet to the bluff line).
City staff sent the 36 single-family properties details on the new rules and possible impacts. The City has not received any comments or concerns from those property owners. The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the MRCCA amendments on September 21. The City Council will review the ordinance on September 27. For more information visit www.maplewoodmn.gov/mrcca.
Code Enforcement Complaints
Russell Reininger has resigned from his position as the Neighborhood Preservation Specialist. The city has posted the code enforcement position for recruitment. In the interim period, code enforcement responsibilities will be shared by Sam Drewry and Molly Wellens. If council members receive a code enforcement complaint, please send it to Mike Martin and Jeff Thomson and we will ensure that the complaint is forwarded to the appropriate city staff for follow up. In addition to the location and nature of the complaint, it is very helpful for city staff to receive the name and contact information for the complaining party so that we can follow up with them on questions and updates on the status. Residents are also able to submit complaints on the city’s website at https://maplewoodmn.gov/FormCenter/Fix-It-7/Fix-it-36 or by calling the code enforcement line at 651-249-2633.
Sterling Street Bridge Replacement Update
This week the contractor began the placement of the 16’x10’ concrete box culvert that is replacing the old wooden Sterling Street Bridge. The photo to the right shows the contractor placing one the sections that make up the 96’ long box culvert. The crews had to work carefully while placing the sections underneath the existing Magellan pipelines seen crossing over the new box culvert. Previously, these pipes were suspended below the old wood bridge. The pipes will now be fully buried above the box culvert when the project is completed.
This was an impressive site to see. To give some context to the size of the box culvert pieces and the very large crane please note the two green shapes on top of the new culvert at the left side. These are two the construction crew working on placing another section of the box culvert. I was standing on the opposite side of the box culvert from the crane when I took this picture. In order to get the entire carne in the picture I had to use the 0.5 zoom despite being a good distance away.
It is anticipated that placement of the culvert sections will be finished late today are early next week. It is great to see the project moving forward and making good progress.
MnDOT Hwy61/Hwy 5 Design Update
MnDOT’s preliminary plan for this project included a proposed pond located on City owned land just north of Olivia Court. As you may recall a number of residents voiced their concerns with the impacts a proposed pond would have on habitat and views from the homes on Olivia Court.
MnDOT contacted the City this week and let us know that the proposed pond is no longer part of the proposed project. The required stormwater ponding and treatment will be handled at other locations. I have sent emails to property owners on Olivia Court who contacted the City with their concerns about the pond to update them on this change. MnDOT will also no longer be looking to acquire a portion of the City’s land at this location.
Please join me in congratulating Sgt Mike Dugas on his promotion to Lieutenant, effective Monday, September 20, 2021.
This is the news for the week. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.