Economic vitality seemed to be the underlying theme of Tuesday night’s meeting for the Northfield City Council, with the approval of three long-term projects designed to stimulate the city’s economic development.
The council first approved a redevelopment grant application to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, DEED.
Next up, the council passed a motion ordering an alternative urban area-wide review, AUAR, for the northwest development area in Northfield. John Shardlow with Stantec delivered a presentation about the 50-acre site and said, if the council approved the motion, that would initiate a scoping process, much like an environmental assessment worksheet prepared with a lot of details.
“AUAR eliminates public and private uncertainty,” said Shardlow. “It will be updated every five years.”
In his summary, he said there were five steps involved after the scenarios of a technology center and industrial park are agreed upon. After the scoping and EAW are drawn, there would be 30 days between the first draft of AUAR and the final draft. Adoption of the process begins 15 days after the final draft is approved.
Councilor Kathleen Holmes asked if the city pays for the update. City Administrator Ben Martig said there were no commitments beyond the first payment.
Mayor Rhonda Pownell asked if any traffic study had been conducted in the area. David Bennett, director of Public Works and city engineer, said the transportation committee should be brought into the discussion.
Finally, after close to 30 years of various attempts to connect the bike trails from Red Wing to Mankato, the council approved a resolution of support for Mill Towns State Trail budget request. The passage of the resolution calls for funding to help bring the connection of the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail with the Cannon Valley Trail a lot closer to completion, bringing the goal of 80 miles of seamless travel closer to reality.
Bennett said 70% of the total price tag of $11,700 would be paid for through a state bonding request, while the remaining 30% would be paid by the city of Northfield.
“This will be the top item to lobby toward in the Legislature this year,” said Martig.
In other action
Northfield Police Chief Mark Elliott gave a fourth quarter crime update that showed there was a 7% decrease in the number of calls from last quarter and a 17% increase from the same quarter in 2021. Both statistics were not surprising, Elliott said, with the number of snow events stalling crime calls, and the increase in public activity compared to a year ago when the city was still dealing the lingering effects of the last remnants of COVID-19.
There were 7,877 calls in the fourth quarter. Elliott said there are fewer calls in winter months. There was a 23% drop in Group A crimes from last quarter and a 24% decrease from last year. In Group B crimes, there was a 24% decrease from last quarter and last year. There was a 33% reduction in the number of driving while intoxicated calls.
Elliott said there were no major calls in quarter four to report.
“I believe a well informed community is a safer community,” he said.
Advocates for “No Mow May” reported that there are multiple benefits to the environment of not mowing lawns for one month. In the presentation to the council, advocates said pollinators, birds and natural resources all stand to gain with the optional participation of residents around town.
Risi Karim, assistant to the city administrator, said the city staff are in talks with the horticulturalist to see how residents register and which parks would be included. Karim said the city would likely need to amend the mowing ordinance.
Before she adjourned the hour and 20-minute meeting, Mayor Pownell encouraged the councilors to get involved in the conferences sponsored by the National League of Cities.