OPH council to consider temporary sign allowances to some MN 36 businesses

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — A proposal to give temporary sign allowances to businesses in the Minnesota 36 corridor affected by upcoming St. Croix Crossing work on north and south frontage roads will be considered Tuesday by the Oak Park Heights City Council.

On a separate issue, the council will also consider placing soda vending machines in two city parks.

In a memo to the council, City Planner Scott Richards from TPC said businesses on both frontage roads would suffer from lack of visibility due to construction scheduled to start next month and “should be given special provisions for signage, at least on a temporary basis.”

Richards writes that one idea the council could consider is revising sign rules to allow additional temporary or permanent signs. Another option is the city temporarily suspending enforcement of its temporary sign rules, Richards adds.
“This option is the one that has been pursued by that has been pursued by staff,” he said.

Richards said a draft resolution said enforcement suspension would be limited to Oak Park Heights businesses in the general and limited business and resident business transitional districts between Nova Scotia Avenue and Beach Road and directly abutting the MN 36 north and south frontage roads. Businesses affected by the enforcement suspension are allowed banners continually from May 1 through Oct. 31. Richards’ memo suggests the council determine if pennants should be included in the special events provision.

“The City Council should review the draft resolution related to suspending the enforcement of portions of the temporary signage section for those businesses affected by the Highway 36 corridor construction related to the St. Croix Crossing project,” he writes. “If the resolution addresses the issues raised by the City Council, it should be adopted. The City Council should also determine if pennants should be considered in the provisions for special events. If so, they should direct a public hearing be advertised for the April Planning Commission meeting to amend the sign regulations.”

State Department of Transportation officials said work on the Minnesota approach to the new bridge will take two years to complete, with the bulk of the work occurring this year. Work includes rebuilding the frontage roads, relocating utilities and reconstructing MN 36 intersections at Greeley Street-Oakgreen Avenue and Osgood Avenue.

Project Director Jon Chiglo said access to businesses along the frontage roads will be maintained during construction and any work-related road and intersection closures would be done during off-peak traffic hours and overnight.

Among other items on the council’s agenda are:

Installing soda machines at Brekke and Autumn Hills parks. City Administrator Eric Johnson said the Park Commission supports the vending machine idea as a benefit to park visitors.

Johnson said he has contacted local Pepsi representative Henry Gullickson to supply the vending machines. Johnson added that a draft agreement does not allocate any money to the city from machine revenue, but places the “essential risk” to the vendor. The agreement also outlines liability, safety, cleanliness and equipment removal guidelines.

Johnson said if the council is comfortable with the vending machine idea, it could have Gullickson and City Attorney Mark Vierling finalize an agreement “and have these units installed for the upcoming season.”

Consider an agreement authorizing the Ironman Bicycle Ride through the city April 28. Johnson said ride organizer Hostelling International USA estimates 3,500 riders would take part in the ride. He added that Hostelling International has paid a $500 impact fee and placed $1,000 in escrow.

Hostelling International officials are expected to be at the council meeting to answer questions, Johnson said.

OPH rockThe council meets at 7 p.m. in the Oak Park Heights City Hall council chambers.