Government

Items related to the running of Northfield

This week at City Hall

We have the dates and time for all the government meetings this week. But we can't tell you whether you need to ink them into your schedule. 
The agendas aren't all available yet, but you can check the City Hall website to watch for them.

City Council, 7 p.m. Monday. This is a work session, but no agenda is posted yet.
Planning Commission, 7 p.m. Tuesday. The commission is expected to make a recommendation on the planned unit development of the Rosewood 5th Addition, then continue its discussion of the city's comprehensive plan.
The Park and Recreation Advisory Board, 7 p.m. Tuesday. No agenda is available.
Heritage Preservation Commission, 4:30 p.m. Thursday. No agenda is available. 


Locally Grown podcast #20: Don Tarr and Kris Vohs on workforce housing

We took our Locally Grown show recording session to The Tavern's outdoor patio this afternoon. Our guests: Don Tarr, Chair of the Northfield Housing and Redeveloment Authority; and Kris Vohs, City Councilor and member of the HRA. Our topic: Northfield and the need for workforce housing.

Click photos to enlarge and continue reading to hear the whole show (30 minutes).


This Week in the Northfield Blogosphere...

The 'Sphere is back from Sin City - tanned, rested, and with both of my kidneys. That's a successful Las Vegas trip by any standard.

Since the 'Sphere's been out of the loop for a while, it's *_Current Events_* as the topic this week: things being built, things being torn down, and everything in between.

More inside...


Council OKs theater, keeps some land industrial

Editor's note: This is the second part of a story we started yesterday outlining the issues surrounding a proposed new movie theater in Northfield.

Owatonna CinemaThe Northfield City Council, faced with a need for both commercial and light industrial land, reached a compromise Monday that maintains a little of each.

"I like this better than the last meeting," said Steven Payne, vice president of Lakes & Rivers Cinema, which plans to bring a multi-screen cinema to seven acres along Canon Road, just off Hwy. 3. He was referring to the May 23 meeting of the Planning Commission, which rejected the land use designation needed as a first step to rezoning for a theater.  

For the details on the vote and much, much more, read the rest of the story...


Road construction continues...

Road Construction MosaicThe big Highway 3 road construction project continues in Northfield. N.org is there, and while "our online construction photo gallery":http://flickr.com/photos/northfield_mn/sets/72157594156650253/ won't make your trip any quicker, we hope that the indication of progress will make it a little cheerier.

The construction this summer is in two phases. Phase One (the current phase) is scheduled to be complete by August 18th, "according to MNDOT":http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/hwy3/index.html. Phase two will start after that and finish in October. This means that there may be some significant DJJD(Defeat of Jesse James Days) traffic impact.

More inside...


Movie options create real cliffhanger

Owatonna CinemaI’m not a bookmaker, but if I were, earlier this weekend I would have put the odds of getting a successful, for-profit movie theater in downtown Northfield about even with Barbaro running another horse race.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to have some movies downtown. It’s just that people may have to be more creative in looking for options. And I'll be honest, just before I filed this story I found an option that while still a longshot, may improve the odds just a bit.

Ever since the discussion started last month about the possibility of a new multi-screen movie theater (like this one in Owatonna) out along Highway 3, I’ve been doing research on the subject. I’ve reviewed the few communities I could find with downtown theaters, looked at the restoration of old theaters, the locations and the economics of new theaters and the interesting dynamics of those theaters that show independent and art house movies. I’ve talked to people who have started out in small theaters and have had to adapt as the movie industry has changed. So grab some popcorn and I'll tell you what I've learned....


Land use, land sales top this week's city agendas

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The past and the future come together this week as the city deals with plans for a new movie theater and begins plans to divest itself of some land that was part of the former Northfield Hospital site.

City Council: meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The key issue will be a vote on whether to adjust the city’s comprehensive plan to designate about 10 acres of land along Highway 3 for commercial use, rather than light industrial. Technically, the issue isn’t a rezoning, and it’s not tied to a specific use of the land. But in reality, the move is needed to allow a rezoning that would allow property owner James Gleason to sell his land to Steven Payne, owner of Lakes & Rivers Cinema. Payne, who has developed eight cinemas in small towns in Minnesota and South Dakota, wants to build a theater similar to one he owns in Owatonna. If the city refused the change, Payne and Gleason plan to build the theater on an adjacent site across the city boundary in Dundas. The land, directly across from Target and Cub Foods, (in the distance past the familiar intersection pictured here), lies between the busy highway retail area and the light industrial area to the west.


City to sell homes, lots near Way Park

We just pulled this from the City Hall website.

An informational meeting outlining the process for the sale of four houses (including the one pictured at left) and three vacant lots from the former Northfield Hospital campus will be Tuesday, June 6, from 7-9 p.m. at St. John’s Church, 500 West Third St. At the meeting, representatives of Northfield Hospital will present their plan for disposing of the properties within guidelines established by the Northfield City Council. There will be an opportunity for questions. City representatives will also be at the meeting.

The former hospital site and adjacent homes owned by the city cover 4.73 acres in the 800-block between West First and West Second streets. The city council decided in 2004 that the 2.7 acres donated for the 1938 hospital be used to expand Way Park. To underwrite a portion of the cost of removing the old hospital, the hospital is authorized to sell the houses and vacant lots acquired after the original hospital was built.


School Board Withdraws Support for Village School

Vote will likely close area charter school

An article in the StarTribune reported that the Northfield School Board voted 5-2 tonight to withdraw sponsorship for the Village School of Northfield, a public charter school that was established in 1997. Of the 125 charter schools that have opened in Minnesota since 1991, the Village School is just the eighth to lose its sponsor.

Concerns over student safety, behavior and academic performance had been raised over the past few months, and the school's situation was a topic of discussion on our ISSUES list in early April, when it was first reported that the school board was considering this possibility.


Locally Grown podcast #19: Peggy Prowe and the Mill Towns Trail

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We took our recording session to the back room of the James Gang Hideaway on Friday, featuring Mill Towns Trail board member Peggy Prowe. The legislature just allocated $1 million dollars for the trail, so I invited Senator Tom Neuville and Representative Ray Cox to chime in.

Click photo to enlarge and continue reading to hear the whole show (30 minutes).


Locally Grown features Mill Towns Trail, 2:30 pm Friday at The Hideaway

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We're taking our Locally Grown radio show/podcast to the streets this summer. This week, we're recording 2:30 PM Friday in back room at the newly opened James Gang Hideaway, 421 Division St. Our guest: Mill Towns Trail board member Peggy Prowe. Attend the recording session to help provide ambient background noise and maybe even participate.

The legislature just allocated $1 million dollars for the trail. I snapped the photo (above right) today after Northfield Rotary's lunch at the Northfield Golf Club. L to R: Rice County Commissioner Jessica Peterson, Faribault Councillor Carol King, Representative Patti Fritz, Peggy Prowe, Jim Schlicting, Representative Ray Cox, Mill Towns Trail Friends Chair Meg Otten, Senator Tom Neuville, Peter Stolley, Laurie Williams, Neil Lutsky. (Click all photos/images to enlarge.)


Policy and Picnic...What a Combo!

Reminder: this event is TODAY.

Steve MorseThe public is invited to hear about gains for environmental quality achieved during the 2006 Minnesota Legislative session. Steve Morse, Executive Director of Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP), will address the topic and answer questions from 4-5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25, at the Northfield Public Library.

Steve is a former state senator and a former deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Steve was elected to the State Senate the first time in 1986, representing the Winona area. For most of his 12 years in the Senate, he served as chairman of the Senate Environment and Agriculture Budget Division. He served in the DNR from 1999 to 2003.


City faces tough choice on new theater

Editor's note: How many screens, how many cars, how much popcorn does it take to make money in the movie business today? Check back later for an in-depth interview with Steve Mann, one of the owners of the successful Twin Cities-based Mann Theatres chain.

Southgate CinemaAnyone who thinks small town government isn't a challenge is nuts. I've been covering small towns for many years and the questions they decide often leave them in a no-win situation—with friends and neighbors on both sides. They're decisions I wouldn't want to make.

For example, lots of cities face zoning issues where community officials know that a developer can take a lucrative project to another city if they don't approve it. Rarely, however, does the developer have the option of moving a mere 80 feet away to get to that other community.

That's the philosophical debate the City Council will face in June when they receive a Planning Commission recommendation to refuse a change in the Comprehensive Plan to allow commercial zoning for about seven acres of land along Highway 3 across from Target. The change is the first step needed for landowner James Gleason and a developer to build a multi-screen movie theater complex.


Peterson campaign Northfield kick-off Thursday

Click to visit campaign websiteThe Contented Cow will be the site for the official Northfield kick-off for Jessica Peterson and her campaign for State Senate. This public event will be from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, this Thursday, May 25.

Everyone is invited to this open-house event. It will be a good chance for people to meet the candidate, ask questions, express concerns, volunteer to help out, and generally mingle with others who want to see Northfield once again have progressive representation in the state legislature.

Scott Covey is Jessica Peterson's campaign manager


Locally Grown podcast #18: Streetscape and ArtsPlan '06 with guest Howard Merriam

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Howard Merriam, Director of Resource Planning for the City of Northfield, was the guest for Friday's Locally Grown show, discussing plans for the downtown Streetscape & Way-Finding Plan (bike racks up first) and the ArtsPlan06 project. (L to R: Howard Merriam, Morgan Weiland, Ross Currier, Tracy Davis.)

Click photo to enlarge and continue reading to hear the whole show (30 minutes).


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