Stillwater City Council

Recent Posts

Two Public Hearings Set for Short-Term Rentals in Stillwater

The Stillwater Planning Commission is hosting a public hearing next week to gather feedback about a proposed ordinance to allow, and regulate, short-term home rentals in town. The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 8 at Stillwater City Hall. The city council will consider the same proposal during a public hearing at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 21 at City Hall. If you cannot attend either public hearing, but would still like to participate in the process, you may submit written comments to Community Development Director Bill Turnblad via email at bturnblad@ci.stillwater.mn.us. The proposed ordinance hearing is a response to the popularity of websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO that enable property owners to rent out space in their home on a short-term basis. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Stillwater Seeks Community Feedback on Concept Park Plan for the Aiple Property

The City of Stillwater is preparing a Concept Park Plan for the former Aiple property on the north end of downtown Stillwater — and city staff is looking for community feedback. As part of the planning process, city staff is hosting a community meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3 at City Hall, so community members can review and comment on materials that have been prepared by park planning consultants. The materials include a site evaluation and an analysis of costs and options for potential re-use of the former Aiple Family residence. Community insights and comments will help guide city leaders as they decide on the elements to be included in the Concept Park Plan. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

New Planning Advisory Committee Seeks Community Feedback About Future of Downtown Stillwater

The city of Stillwater is embarking on a year-long planning process to update the downtown Stillwater framework plan that will guide downtown growth and development for the next couple of decades. The Downtown Planning Advisory Committee — made up of a group of community volunteers — is hosting an event on Thursday, June 23 aimed at getting your feedback about what the future of downtown Stillwater holds. The event is from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, June 23 at the Washington County Historic Courthouse. Members of the advisory committee will conduct several different 45-minute walking tours of downtown, followed by a workshop where community members will be asked to share their thoughts about the future of downtown. The walking tours will begin at about 6:30 p.m. The Stillwater Trolley will shuttle participants to downtown. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Elections 2016: Races for Washington County, Stillwater City Council Take Shape

A few local races took shape Tuesday night as candidate filing periods for for state, county and two seats on the Stillwater City Council came to a close. Here’s a quick look at the races:

Stillwater City Council

Brennen Swanson and Dave Junker will vie for a seat to represent Ward 2 on the Stillwater City Council. Tom Weidner will run unopposed to represent Ward 3. Washington County

Former Oak Park Heights Mayor David Beaudet will challenge incumbent Gary Kriesel in a race to represent District 3 on the Washington County Board of Commissioners. Minnesota Senate

Sten Hokanson (D – Stillwater) will challenge incumbent Karin Housley (R – St. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Ice Castles Are Coming to Downtown Stillwater This Winter

Lowell Park will be host to an ice castle this winter. The Stillwater City Council has been talking for years about trying to find ways to draw people to Stillwater all year around — the addition of two new, large-scale attractions may do just that. Ice Castles LLC is proposing to build an ice attraction in Lowell Park that will be open from late-December to March. The ice castle crew will grow at least 10,000 icicles every day, and place them throughout the ice castles to provide something for water to freeze to. Over time, the icicles are absorbed into the ice structure. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Stillwater City Council Considers The Ponds at Heifort Hills Town Home Development

A public hearing for a development of 48-detached town homes on Neal Avenue North —  just south of Highway 96 — is set for Tuesday night at the Stillwater City Council meeting. The Ponds at Heifort Hills is a proposal to build 48 detached townhomes on about 25 acres of Kenneth and Geraldine Heifort’s property located at 8753 and 8911 Neal Ave. N. Each of the two phases of the project will include 24-detached town homes. According to planning documents, the estimated home price is $450,000. On Tuesday night, the council will consider approving a conceptual shoreland PUD for both phases of The Ponds at Heifort Hills project, rezone the land and consider approval of the preliminary plat for the first phase of the project. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Stillwater City Council Approves Senior Living Facility Concept, But Says It’s Too Big

The Stillwater City Council approved the conceptual plan for Croix Bay senior living facility on Long Lake Tuesday night, but denied the zoning amendment requests for a taller development than is currently allowed. The original Croix Bay plans called for construction of one building to be about six inches taller than the 35 feet currently allowed for approval of special use permits for senior living projects. After hearing more than four hours of public comments in the past two weeks about the proposed $60 million development, the council appeared to favor the idea of a senior living facility at the location, but had reservations about the height and the density of the current proposal. “I have a concern with height. I also have a concern of density,” Council Member Mike Polehna said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Stillwater Zephyr Theatre Project Moves Forward on North End of Downtown

 

The Stillwater Zephyr Theatre project moved forward Tuesday night. The Stillwater City Council on a 3-2 vote — Tom Weidner and Dave Junker dissenting — approved a 7 foot height variance for the construction of a fly loft on the Stillwater Depot building on the north end of Main Street. Several residents of nearby condos oppose the project saying that granting a height variance will destroy their view of the St. Croix River. Only a Dim Image Productions has proposed renovating the Stillwater Depot building into a 332-seat professional theatre and bakery/coffee shop. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Public Hearing on Proposed $60 Million Senior Living Facility in Stillwater is Tonight

A public hearing for the proposed development of a $60 million senior living facility on Long Lake is happening at 7 p.m. tonight at Stillwater City Hall. The Stillwater City Council continued last month’s public hearing to give residents who were out of town for spring break an opportunity to comment about the proposed Croix Bay development, a 50-acre senior living facility on County Road 12 between Rutherford Elementary School and Grace Baptist Church. The development plans are still in the early stages. There will be at least five more public hearings before the council makes a decision. Following Tuesday’s hearing, the council will consider:

Granting Northland Real Estate Group conceptual approval for a Planned Unit Development;

Discuss possible zoning amendments that would allow the developer to construct one building to be about six inches taller than the 35 feet currently allowed for approval of special use permits for senior living projects;

Discuss rezoning three of the development’s six parcels from “Agricultural Preservation” to “Lakeshore Residential” and the other three to “Parks, Recreation and Open Space.”

Croix Bay is a proposed 4-story, 234-unit, multiple-building project that would offer a range of living options, including independent living, senior cooperatives, assisted living and memory care units. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Stillwater City Council Strikes Down Amendment to Regulate Yard Parking

Stillwater will not regulate yard parking after all. After nearly a year of discussions about a possible ban on yard parking in Stillwater residential neighborhoods, the City Council on a 3-2 vote — Tom Weidner and Mike Polehna dissenting — denied the first reading of the yard parking ordinance amendment, leaving the ordinance as it reads. Last spring, a resident asked the council to consider regulating the parking of vehicles on unimproved surfaces in the front yard of homes, saying it is a “public nuisance of visual blight,” and reduces property values in Stillwater. As a result, a survey was conducted and the council directed the Planning Commission to look into drafting regulations for a yard parking ordinance. Read the public comments and view results of the city’s online yard parking survey

Nov. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Nonprofit Group Aims to Turn Depot Builing into Stillwater Zephyr Theatre

A local nonprofit group is hoping to renovate the Stillwater Depot building on North Main Street into a theatre. Stillwater Zephyr Theatre has launched a $6.5 million capital campaign to buy the Minnesota Zephyr train depot and renovate it into a professional theatre. The hope is to begin construction later this year, and to open the new Stillwater Zephyr Theatre in November 2017. The 324-seat theatre would specialize in musicals from the 1920s to ’50s, according to Stillwater Zephyr Theater’s website. “The Zephyr Theatre will be a professional theatre providing live performances, music, dance, education and artistic opportunities for all ages.”

Plans for Only a Dim Image Productions’ proposed theatre call for a large meeting hall and rehearsal space, a dance rehearsal studio, scene, costume and prop shops, and a bakery and coffee shop. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Stillwater Parking Commission Continues Yard Parking Discussion Tonight

The Stillwater Planning Commission will continue discussions about regulating the parking of vehicles on unimproved surfaces in front and side yards of residential homes Wednesday night at City Hall. Last spring, a resident asked the council to consider regulating the parking of vehicles on unimproved surfaces in the front yard of homes, saying it is a “public nuisance of visual blight,” and reduces property values in Stillwater. As a result, the council directed the Planning Commission to look into drafting regulations for a yard parking ordinance. The possible amendments to the city’s off-street parking code would regulate parking vehicles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, golf carts, and the like, on “unimproved” surfaces in front and side yards of homes. Yard Parking Discussions

Read the public comments and view results of the city’s online yard parking survey

Nov. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Stillwater Considers Regulating Yard Parking, Seeks Public Input

The city of Stillwater is considering an ordinance that would regulate the parking of vehicles on front and side lawns of residential homes — and is seeking your input. Last spring, a resident asked the council to consider regulating the parking of vehicles on unimproved surfaces in the front yard of homes, saying it is a “public nuisance of visual blight,” and reduces property values in Stillwater. Now city staff is asking the public to complete a short survey about parking vehicles in front and side yards. The potential ordinance would regulate parking vehicles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, golf carts, and the like, on “unimproved” surfaces in front and side yards of homes.  

The tentative schedule of events for the development of an ordinance addressing yard parking is:

Nov. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Lumberjack Days Will Return to Downtown Stillwater in 2016

A Lumberjack Demonstration during Stillwater Log jam 2015. (Photo by Joe Isaacs)

Lumberjack Days will return to downtown Stillwater in 2016. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday night amended the city’s contract with The Locals to allow them to use the name and logo for Lumberjack Days for the city’s summer celebration. The Locals brought a summer festival back to Stillwater two summers ago. When The Locals were awarded the contract to put on Stillwater’s community festival, they entered into negotiations to use the name Lumberjack Days, but couldn’t come to an agreement. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Expansion of Stillwater’s Water Street Inn is Still in the Works

A conceptual drawing of the Water Street Inn addition, which includes 20 new rooms, a clock tower and a rooftop patio. The Water Street Inn’s 20-room expansion — including a rooftop patio and signature clock tower — is still in the works. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday granted an extension to St. Croix Preservation Co. for the special use permit (SUP) to construct an addition onto the north side of Water Street Inn. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Stillwater’s Summer Festival Will Once Again Be Called … Lumberjack Days

Lumberjack Days will return to downtown Stillwater next summer. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday night will discuss amending the city’s contract with The Locals, possibly allowing them to use the name and logo for Stillwater’s traditional summer festival, Lumberjack Days. The Locals brought a summer festival back to Stillwater two summers ago. When The Locals were awarded the contract to put on Stillwater’s community festival, they entered into negotiations to use the name Lumberjack Days, but couldn’t come to an agreement. So The Locals named their festival Stillwater Log Jam. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

Stillwater City Council Stands Behind Vote to Plant Trees in Lowell Park

The city of Stillwater will move forward with a plan to plant trees in Lowell Park. Volunteers will plant the trees on Saturday, Sept. 19. A few months ago, the city was approached by volunteer to design a tree plan for the north Lowell Park area and the Browns Creek bike trail from Mulberry Street to Laurel Street. A plan was presented to council in August that showed a four different types of trees including, 21 Red Buds along the trail, 10 Red Maples in Mulberry Circle, four Pin Oaks in Mulberry Point and 9 White Oaks in the park from Mulberry to Myrtle Street. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Stillwater City Council Approves Plan to Plant 31 Trees in and around Lowell Park

In the next couple of weeks, the city of Stillwater — with a group of volunteers — will plant 31 trees along the Browns Creek Trail and in Lowell Park. On Tuesday night, Ward 2 Council Member Dave Junker cast the lone vote in opposition to the tree-planting plan, saying the proposal needs more review. “This is moving pretty quick,” Junker said. “To plant 31 trees in Lowell Park is a pretty big change. I saw this in a staff report for five seconds. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Stillwater City Council Denies Variances for Indoor Shooting Range

The Stillwater City Council granted the Minnesota Shooting Academy a special use permit for the proposed indoor shooting range, but at half the size. The Minnesota Shooting Academy had requested two variances from city code when they proposed a 7,000 square foot indoor shooting range and outdoor sporting goods retailer in the Simonet’s Furniture Building. One variance was requested for the number of parking spaces the city required. The other variance was to the increase the limit of commercial recreation space allowed in the office park. The council on a 3-1 vote — Council Member Mike Polehna dissenting, and Tom Weidner recusing himself from the discussion — approved the special use permit, but denied the two variances to city ordinance. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Coming Soon to Lowell Park: Dozens of Trees

More than a dozen trees will soon be planted in Lowell Park. A volunteer landscape architect recently submitted a plan to city staff to add dozens of trees in north Lowell Park, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders told the City Council on Tuesday. The plan calls for four different species of trees to be planted in different areas between Laurel Street and the Pedestrian Plaza. The first part of the plan is to plant a series of 21 redbud trees — that grow to be about 20 feet tall — along the bike trail between Laurel and Mulberry streets. “The plan is to plant the trees so when the corridor opens up you see the steeples for the courthouse and the church,” Sanders said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

City Council Moves Forward with Study to Explore Burying Power Lines in Lowell Park

The city of Stillwater will continue to explore the possibility of burying power lines in Lowell Park from Nelson Street to Laurel Street. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday directed city staff to move forward with Xcel Energy to complete a more detailed engineering estimate — if TIF money can be used to pay for the $30,000 study. A preliminary, rough-cost estimate for Xcel to bury the electrical lines in Lowell Park is about $1.5 million, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders told the council. Other financial factors Sanders said the city will want to take into account — that will not be a part of Xcel’s estimate — include:

The cost of relocating overhead cable and telephone lines

The cost of relocating any private overhead electrical services. Finding locations for new transformers

The cost of replacing the lighting for the parking lots after the power poles are removed. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

City Council Continues Discussion About Adding Xcel Surcharge Fee to Bury Power Lines in Lowell Park

The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday will discuss the possibility of burying power lines in Lowell Park. The idea of burying the power lines — for a surcharge fee — in Lowell Park from Nelson Street to Laurel Street first emerged in February during an otherwise monotonous Stillwater City Council discussion about renewing gas and electric franchise fees for 2015. Burying the electrical would take the power poles out of the line of sight in Lowell Park, and in downtown, but it comes at a cost. A preliminary, rough-cost estimate for Xcel to bury the electrical lines downtown is about $1.5 million, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders has told the council. To get a better understanding of the true costs, Xcel would need to do a more detailed engineering estimate, which would cost the city $30,000, and would take three or four months complete. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Stillwater City Council Begins Working on 2016 Budget

A city of Stillwater news release about Tuesday’s Budget Workshop:

The City Council will conduct a budget work session at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug 18, in the Stillwater Council Chambers at City Hall. Council members will review and consider all department, partner agency and community agency budget requests and all capital requests. Budget meetings are open to the public and are streamed on the web and broadcast on local cable channels. The preliminary recommended budget would increase the City’s net tax levy by 8.38%, to $12.29 million and is based upon a review of all revenue sources and expenditure requests. Key proposals and initiatives included in the preliminary 2016 budget include:

Implementing provisions in the preliminary city strategic planning report:

developing City economic development strategy

updating the City events strategy

implementing state performance management program

creation of additional key staff positions

completing a classification compensation study for all city positions

Providing payment to the Town of Stillwater pursuant to the orderly annexation agreement;

Election services for the Presidential election year;

Funding capital outlay projects, City Hall renovation/Police Dept. remodeling and Street

Improvement program;

Development of the preliminary 2016 budget was based on the following factors:

Continued demand for increased services in a growing community;

Priority items/programs included in the preliminary strategic planning report;

Increased employee compensation and health insurance costs;

Debt service funding;

Maintaining core physical, technology and facility infrastructure;

Maintaining partner agency and community agency funding. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

20th Annual Rumble on the Deck is July 9 at the Freight House in Stillwater

The 20th annual Ma Rad’s Rumble on the Deck is set for Thursday, July 9 at the Freight House in downtown Stillwater. Despite a recommendation from Stillwater Police Chief John Gannaway to deny the event based on the impact a large number of loud motorcycles flocking to the event has on the community, the City Council with a 4-0 vote (Tom Weidner was absent) approved the permit for the 20th annual Rumble on the Deck. The Freight House will provide security for the event, as well as pay for 6 Stillwater police officers and a parking enforcement officer to work the event. Rumble on the Deck runs from 6-10 p.m., on Thursday, July 9. “I recommend a denial of this event,” Gannaway said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Stillwater City Council Enacts Bloody Mary Bills, Allows Sale of Beer Growlers on Sundays

Craft beer drinkers may be able to purchase growlers of beer from Stillwater breweries in the very near future. The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday will consider an ordinance amending the city’s liquor law to enact the Minnesota legislature’s recently-passed Bloody Mary bills, and allow breweries to sell growlers of beer on Sundays. The amendment will allow Stillwater restaurant-goers to order a Bloody Mary – or any other alcoholic beverage – starting at 8 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than current laws allow. It will also allow the sale of growlers — and 750 ml brews — at local breweries and brewpubs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. If approved, changes would go into effect July 1. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Stillwater City Council Approves Revised Downtown Parking Recommendation

The Stillwater City Council is expected to approve the Downtown Parking Commission’s revised recommendation to address the downtown parking lots budget deficit during Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall. The Parking Commission’s revised recommendation to close the downtown parking system’s budget deficit  includes:

Raising the monthly business parking permit fee from $10 to $20. Increasing the monthly downtown residential parking permit fee from $10 to $20. Raising parking violation fines from $15 to $25. According to city records, the downtown parking lot system has an average budget deficit of $25,000 per year. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Stillwater Set to Become Minnesota’s Fourth Pollinator-Friendly City

Stillwater will become the fourth pollinator-friendly city in Minnesota Tuesday night. Last fall, the Pollinator Friendly Alliance made a presentation to the council requesting that the city support their efforts to ban the use of pollinator-harming pesticides in city parks and planting areas. On Tuesday night, a pollinator-friendly resolution will be passed as part of the consent agenda. The proposed resolution says:

The city encourages healthy environments including food sources, clean water and shelter for pollinators through existing programs and new opportunities. The city, and its contractors will consider safe alternatives to pollinator-harming pesticides, and in particular cease the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, where possible on city property. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Stillwater’s New Bridgeview Park Will Offer Bike Trails, Boat Landing, Public Docks & More

The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday night approved the Bridgeview Park master plan. The Bridgeview Master Plan will include the Loop Bike Trail as a mitigation item for the St. Croix River Crossing Project, walking trails, a picnic area, a DNR dock, green space, the Shoddy Mill and Warehouse buildings and a municipal dock. One of the most anticipated parts of the $10.7 million plan for the 17-acre Bridgeview Park on the south end of downtown, is the prospect of a municipal dock. The council  on Tuesday approved a “target location” for public docking in the area between Nelson Street and the Bergstein buildings in Bridgeview Park. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Municipal Docks Will Be Part of Bridgeview Park Plan Discussion

The Stillwater City Council is set to discuss the final draft of the Bridgeview Park plan Tuesday night — in what is sure to start an interesting discussion moving forward. One of the most anticipated plans for the $10.7 million, 17-acre Bridgeview Park plan south of downtown, is the prospect of a municipal dock. The proposed plan includes four possible options for locating a municipal dock. The majority of opinions expressed at the various planning meetings, is the stretch of city-owned shoreline between Nelson Street and the two Bergstein buildings in Bridgeview Park, Community Development Director Bill Turnblad said. A public dock in the alcove at Kolliner Park, Stillwater’s land on the Wisconsin side of the St. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

Stillwater City Council to Discuss Parking Commission’s New Recommendations to Solve Budget Gap This Week

The Stillwater City Council will discuss the Parking Commissions new recommendation to address the downtown parking lots budget deficit during Tuesday’s council meeting at City Hall. According to city records, the downtown parking lot system has an average budget deficit of $25,000 per year. The downtown parking lot budget is separate from the parking ramp budget, which is also currently operating with a deficit. The parking ramp discussion will happen at a future date. In order to cover that shortfall, the Parking Commission on Feb. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Parking Commission’s Recommendation for Downtown Parking Changes Still Months Away

It will likely be a couple of months before the Stillwater Parking Commission will have a  recommendation for parking rates in downtown parking lots east of Main Street. The next Parking Commission meeting is Thursday morning, but Community Development Director Bill Turnblad told the council on Tuesday night that the commission will discuss the RFP process for paid parking equipment, not parking rates. Discussions about parking rates downtown will happen in March and April, Turnblad said. Last week the Independent Business Association hosted a discussion at City Hall about the transition of turning the downtown parking lots from free to pay — something the Parking Commission has been working on for about three years, Turnblad said. “They are at the point now where they are looking at various solutions to an annual budget shortfall,” Turnblad said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Stillwater Considers Surcharge Fee to Fund Burying Electrical Lines Downtown

During an otherwise monotonous Stillwater City Council discussion about renewing gas and electric franchise fees for the year, emerged interesting talks about burying the power lines downtown — for a surcharge fee. Burying the electrical would take the power poles out of the line of sight in Lowell Park, and in downtown, but it comes at a cost. A preliminary, rough-cost estimate of burying the electrical lines downtown is about $1.5 million, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders told the council. City staff has been working with Xcel Energy for the last several months to review franchise fees,Stillwater City Attorney Dave Magnuson said. During those conversations, city staff “tried to convince Xcel that they should fund the undergrounding of electrical lines downtown, at their expense.”

But Xcel wouldn’t bite. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,