Medina to begin blue bag organics collections

The Medina City Council Thursday, Jan. 3, decided to continue with Randy’s Environmental Services of Delano as the city licensed contractor for residential solid waste, recycling and organics collections — this time with Randy’s new blue bag organics program.
At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business. Here are some meeting highlights.

SWEARING IN CEREMONY

New Medina City Council member John Anderson, right, receives the oath of office from City Administrator Scott Johnson at the Jan. 3 City Council meeting. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

New Medina City Council member John Anderson, right, receives the oath of office from City Administrator Scott Johnson at the Jan. 3 City Council meeting. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

At the start of the meeting, City Administrator Scott Johnson administered oaths of office to Mayor Tom Crosby and City Councilors John Anderson and Elizabeth Weir. Last November voters elected both Crosby and Weir to repeat terms and Anderson to his first term. Anderson was a Planning Commission member last year.

BLUE BAG ORGANICS
As the City Council turned to the Randy’s contract, Mayor Crosby noted that the Delano company already has served Medina for five years. Prior to the arrival of Randy’s, Medina had contracts with three waste haulers — each serving a specified part of the city. Medina put contracts for all three parts of the city up for bids, and Randy’s was the winning bidder for the entire city.
City Administrator Johnson said the new contract is for five years, with a five-year renewal option. Randy’s will do single sort recycling collections. Although single sort collections are more costly than the dual sort variety, the only option for Medina is single sort.

Medina Mayor Tom Crosby takes his oath of office at the Jan. 3 Medina City Council meeting. Voters re-elected him this past November. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

Medina Mayor Tom Crosby takes his oath of office at the Jan. 3 Medina City Council meeting. Voters re-elected him this past November. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

As he spoke to the City Council, Jim Wollschlager, of Randy’s, was wearing a Blue Bag Organics sticker. Prior to this year, Medina residents could subscribe to an organics recycling program that involved separate organics collections. With the new Randy’s blue bag program, residents will dump their organic wastes (such as chicken bones and scrapings from dinner plates) into specially constructed blue bags. When a bag is full, a resident will pitch it into the garbage container. Blue bags will travel in garbage trucks along with regular trash and be retrieved when the garbage load is dumped.
Randy’s already is doing blue bag organics collections in Delano and St. Louis Park. Wollschlager called it a state of the art program. He expected his company to deliver single sort recycling carts to residents on Jan. 9 and 10, and he urged residents to call and sign up for organics collections.

Medina City Councilor Elizabeth Weir takes her oath of office at the Jan. 3 Medina City Council meeting. She was elected to a third term this past November. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

Medina City Councilor Elizabeth Weir takes her oath of office at the Jan. 3 Medina City Council meeting. She was elected to a third term this past November. (Sun staff photo by Susan Van Cleaf)

MOSER VARIANCES
For the second time, the City Council reviewed a controversial application for five variances that would enable Jacob Moser to construct a single family home on an undeveloped parcel at Ardmore Avenue and Balsam Street. After a lengthy discussion, the council directed city staff to bring back to a future meeting a resolution approving the application. However, City Councilors said the resolution should call for locating the home seven feet closer to the street. The vote for this council action was four to one, with City Councilor Melissa Martinson voting “no.”
Moser needed to apply for five variances because a wetland sits between the proposed house and Lake Ardmore, and a portion of the property lies within the flood plain. Medina and the Shoreland District have requirements for setbacks from streets, lot lines on the sides of structures and wetlands, as well as for the size of buffers from wetlands. Also, lots within the Shoreland District are required to be at least 20,000 square feet in size, and the Moser lot measures in at 18,000 square feet. All of these requirements left Moser with a limited area in which to build his proposed house.
The Planning Commission looked at a first proposal from Moser for a two-story house and asked him to move the structure further back from the street. He came back with a second proposal for a smaller, one-and-a-half story house located closer to the wetland.
New City Councilor Anderson had participated in the commission’s discussions when he was Planning Commissioner. He said other houses in the neighborhood are further back from the street and most commissioners wanted the location of the Moser house to be consistent with the rest of the neighborhood.
Robin Reid, who lives across from the proposed Moser house, said she opposed his application. She gave a number of reasons, including the sensitivity of wetlands to nearby development. Noting that other homes in the neighborhood are close to Lake Ardmore, Reid said they were approved before recent, more stringent restrictions on locating structures near wetlands.
City Councilor Weir asked that Moser move the house back towards the street. She expressed concern about the sensitivity of the nearby wetland. Councilor Martinson asked her at what point environmental concerns would outweigh consistency with the appearance of other homes in the neighborhood.

CITY APPOINTMENTS
The City Council made a number of appointments — most of them calling for the return of last year’s appointees. Councilor Weir again will serve as acting mayor, when Mayor Crosby is absent, and the South Crow River News & Delano Eagle again will serve as Medina’s official newspaper.
New appointees included Marc Osmanski as a Planning Commissioner and Steven Lee as a Parks Commissioner.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at susan.vancleaf@ecm-inc.com

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