Compiled by JANE MCCLURE
Stadium gets liquor license
There’s not a soccer stadium near Snelling Ave. and Interstate 94 yet, but it does have a liquor license. The St. Paul City Council Dec. 7 unanimously approved a measure enacted by the 2016 Minnesota Legislature, which allows the city to issue an on-sale liquor license for the Major League Soccer stadium.
The stadium groundbreaking was held Dec. 12.
The stadium required state action before the license could be issued. Similar action has been taken with other publicly owned stadiums around Minnesota. The Minnesota United FC is building the $150 million stadium but will eventually turn the facility over to the city.
Because a tax bill didn’t pass in 2016 a property tax exemption for the stadium project hasn’t been approved. But the liquor license approval had to be completed before the end of 2016, according to state law. The council vote also has to be filed with the Minnesota Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices.
Grocery faces sanctions
Berhan Tobacco & Grocery, 492 Asbury St., was sanctioned Dec. 14 by the St. Paul City Council. The council added five new license conditions and assessed a $500 fine against the store. A confidential informant was able to recently buy two single Newport cigarettes or “loosies,” a drug pipe and a chore-boy smoking pad during a controlled buy conducted by St. Paul Police.
The store’s owners told the City Council that the items sold weren’t illegal and that they didn’t know that laws had been broken.
The hearing was continued from Dec. 7 because council members were concerned about language barriers and the need for interpretation. But ultimately, the Council agreed with the findings of the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections. The city placed additional conditions on the sale of tobacco products and is requiring that all city ordinances be followed. The council also is requiring that no drug paraphernalia be sold at the store and that no individual or portions of opened packages of razor blades can be sold. Single cigarettes or blunts cannot be sold at the store, and all tobacco products must be sold in their original packages.
Also, none of the following items may be sold at the store: diluents and adulterants; separation gins and sifters; hypodermic syringes or needles; metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic pipes; permanent screens, hashish heads or punctured metal bowls; water pipes; carburetion tubes and devices; smoking and carburetion masks; roach clips; miniature cocaine spoon and cocaine vials; chamber pipes; carburetor pipes, electric pipes; air-driven pipes, chillums; bongs, ice pipes, or chillers.
Local businesses get penalties
Two University Ave. bars face sanctions as a result of separate decisions Dec. 7 by the St. Paul City Council. Both bars, during compliance checks, allowed patrons to go outside with alcoholic beverages. The compliance checks were done in response to concerns about quality of life issues near University and Snelling avenues.
Hot Rod’s Bar & Grill, 1553 University Ave., will pay a $500 fine. Two plainclothes police officers walked in and ordered beers. One was able to take his bottle of beer, walk past the bartender and take the beer out the back door. The officer then came back in, and wasn’t spoken to by the bartender.
The bartender has since been terminated.
City staff recommended a $500 fine and additional conditions on the business licenses. At the business owner’s request, uniformed security will only be needed on weekend evenings. Council members agreed that the bar has operated there for 48 years and has had few problems. Management has worked with police on neighborhood issues.
The Trend Bar, 1537 University Ave., also failed a compliance check. A plainclothes police officer took a beer outside, walked across Asbury St., and stood on the corner and sipped the beer before going back inside. The bartender on duty didn’t stop the officer from leaving or re-entering with the beer.
Trend Bar also will pay a $500 fine and have license conditions added.
Both bars will have to increase security, with cameras and staff. Both will also have to increase trash pickup around their premises and follow other license conditions.
What will happen to solid waste?
The Ramsey County Board will hold a public hearing at 9am, Tues., Jan. 24 on solid waste designation. If a designation ordinance is ultimately passed, mixed municipal solid waste would be delivered to Ramsey/Washington Recycling & Energy Center in Newport starting Jan. 1, 2018. The hearing will be held at the City Hall/Courthouse.
Comments received by Ramsey County at the hearing and in writing will be compiled and used by the county board as it makes decisions about designation.
Solid waste designation was used in the past to provide trash for processing at Newport. The waste is processed into refuse-derived fuel for Xcel Energy plants. Materials are also recycled. Ramsey and Washington counties own and operate the Newport facility through a two-county recycling and energy board.
Designation has been controversial in the past as some garbage haulers complain about costs. Some citizens don’t want their trash burned as fuel.
The intent of a ordinance is to get more garbage haulers to use the Newport plant and have less solid waste going to landfills. Solid waste designation was used when the Newport plant opened in the 1980s. But it was later banned after a series of challenges. Many haulers believe it is too expensive to use the Newport facility when it is cheaper to haul garbage to out-of-state landfills. The counties have had to offer financial incentives to get garbage haulers to use the Newport plant.
But in late 2016 the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved the Ramsey and Washington Counties Joint Waste Designation Plan as being consistent with state statutes and state goals for waste management. Both counties will now begin the process of implementing waste designation. Each county will adopt its own ordinance. The recycling and energy board will also be working in 2017 to negotiate and enter into waste delivery agreements with waste haulers for the delivery of trash to Newport.
Resettlement is supported
The St. Paul City Council is supporting the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the city and is calling upon other Minnesota communities to support a stronger national effort to resettle the most vulnerable Syrian refugees. The council passed a resettlement resolution on Dec. 7.
Council members noted that the resolution sends a message that the city is welcoming to refugees. The resolution stated that there are more refugees in the world today than at any time since World War II, including millions of Syrians who have fled their country since the Syrian conflict began in 2011. Turkey and neighborhood countries are hosting about 5 million refugees. European countries are processing the asylum applications of more than 1 million Syrians.
The UN Refugee Agency has determined that 10 percent of Syrian refugees are in need of resettlement to nations outside of the region due to a heightened vulnerability to further harm, but less than 200,000 resettlement places have been pledged by countries—with the U.S. pledging only 10,000 places this year. The council resolution asks the United States to do more.
The call for more resettlement is in large part because the refugees are in need of safe places to live, to escape further exposure to violence and exploitation. About 7,000 refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe since January 2015, and two children die every day in this crossing.
Minnesota refugee organizations including the International Institute of Minnesota, Arrive Ministries, United Nations Association of Minnesota, the American Refugee Committee, the Minnesota Council of Churches and the Center for Victims of Torture as well as numerous other community organizations and religious institutions have declared their support for resettling more Syrian refugees in the Twin Cities.