City eases sign rule enforcement along MN 36

OPH rockCouncil approves putting drink vending machines in 2 city parks

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Businesses along the Minnesota 36 frontage roads will get a break from the city’s temporary sign rules while visitors at two city parks can buy drinks thanks to the Oak Park Heights City Council.

The council Tuesday approved a resolution suspending enforcement of temporary sign regulations for businesses on the MN 36 north and south frontage roads affected by construction on the Minnesota approach to the new St. Croix Crossing bridge scheduled to start next month.

The suspension applies to businesses in the B-2, B-3 and B-4 zones and runs from May 1 through Oct. 31.

The council also directed the city’s Planning Commission to look at city rules on pennants and bannerettes at the commission’s April meeting and send a recommendation to the council.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting the council approved a 12-month contract with a local Pepsi product vendor to put beverage vending machines in Brekke and Autumn Hills parks. However, the agreement was questioned by one council member who wanted the city to take bids on vending machines and pursue a revenue agreement.

City Planner Scott Richards said the sign enforcement suspension allows businesses on the MN 36 frontage roads to install temporary signs because of visibility issues from construction equipment and dirt piles.

Although the resolution limited the suspension to the B-2 and B-4 business zones, Richards said Stillwater Motors Co. owner DJ Raduenz asked that the B-3 zone be included to cover his dealership and Century Power.

“This really covers the business district from (Minnesota) Highway 5 to Club Tara,” Richards said. “I think it’s more important to get their names out there with signs. We can just suspend enforcement with a resolution.”

Councilman Les Abrahamson moved the sign suspension resolution to include B-3 businesses which was unanimously approved by the council. Councilman Mike Runk then moved to send the pennant issue to the Planning Commission for more study.

Regarding the vending machine contract, City Administrator Eric Johnson said the Park Commission sent the issue to the council as a service providing drinks to visitors at Brekke and Autumn Hills parks. Johnson added that he contacted the Pepsi vendor Henry Gullickson, who supplies a vending machine at Stillwater City Hall, about placing machines in the two parks.

Johnson said the city’s contract makes the vendor responsible for liability, safety and other issues related to the machines. The agreement has no revenue provisions to the city, he added.

“I don’t know how we would monitor a revenue stream,” Johnson said.
But Councilman Chuck Dougherty criticized the proposed contract for not considering revenue for the city.

“I think it’s short-sighted for us not to look at revenue,” he said. “We should look at different options. I think we should put it out for bids and see what we could get.”

But Mayor Mary McComber and Abrahamson both said they are willing to approve the contract on a trial basis.

“I don’t have a problem trying it for a year,” Abrahamson said.

The council approved the vending machine contract on a 4-to-1 vote, with Dougherty dissenting.