St. Michael looks to spark development

Sets meeting with planning commission to review incentive possibilities

St. Michael Fire Chief Steve Hosch, right, accepts a check for $2,500 from Jesseo Michels of CenterPoint Energy. The funds will be used to purchase a chest compression system.
St. Michael Fire Chief Steve Hosch, right, accepts a check for $2,500 from Jesseo Michels of CenterPoint Energy. The funds will be used to purchase a chest compression system.

by Aaron Brom

SUN PRESS Newspapers


The St. Michael Planning Commission wants the city to up its ante in attracting commercial/industrial and residential development to the city.

The city council said it would meet with the commission to further discuss.

The council also continued discussion about a sex offender ordinance, and heard an update about the pool fencing ordinance.



Community development director Marc Weigle said the planning commission recently met and discussed a potential future industrial development, and gave updates on several upcoming business expansions.

Weigle said the commission discussed the lack of residential lots, and considered allowing a large lot development on the city’s west side. Weigle said financing residential developments is still creating some hurdles for developers. He inquired whether the council would consider allowing the city to finance needed infrastructure and assess the costs back to the developer, particularly in the Town Center area.

The council was open to the concept, but was cautious about setting a precedent for future development.

It was noted that prior to the development boom in the 1990s, the city often financed infrastructure for residential development. City attorney Dave Lenhardt said each development is unique and could be looked at individually. He said allowing the city to finance the infrastructure for one does not set a precedent for future development.

Councilor Joe Marx said it would be helpful to have an estimate of the infrastructure costs and how it would be financed.

The council’s consensus was to set up a joint meeting with the planning commission to discuss future development options.




In further matters, the council revisited the topic of drafting a sex offender ordinance after staff had researched more about it.

The ordinance would prohibit a designated offender from residing too closely to a school, licensed day care, or public park. Staff said there is an exception in the ordinance that allows such offenders to live with family members regardless of the proximity to schools and day cares. Councilor Kevin Kasel referenced a study done by the Department of Correction that concludes 70 percent of repeat offenses take place further from the offender’s residence than 1 mile. He said no one wants to live near a designated offender, but the ordinance does not provide as much restriction or safety as intended and seems unwarranted and would provide a false sense of security.

It was also clarified that only a handful of Minnesota cities have a similar ordinance.

The council’s consensus was not to approve the ordinance at this time.



In other news, community development director Weigle said the current pool fencing ordinance requires above-ground pools to have a fence of at least 4 feet in height.

He said some above-ground pools are deeper than 4 feet, and it might be more logical to allow a lockable or removable ladder for pools greater than 4 feet in height in lieu of requiring the fence.

Councilor Kasel said that when the original ordinance was approved, it was determined a fence should still be required because it would create more of an obstruction for smaller kids to access the pool. He said some small kids might still be able to climb up the steps of a ladder from the outside and still have access to the pool.

The council opted not to consider any ordinance amendments at this time.

In other action, the council:

ALLOWED the Families and Youth Community Connections (FYCC) to participate in a circus fund-raiser on city property. Barnes Circus is scheduled July 2.

HEARD that seven residents are interested in serving on an ad hoc communications committee. The council agreed to set up the committee with the seven residents.

AUTHORIZED installation of a pharmaceutical drop box at city hall, as requested by the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.