A recent decision by the city’s Heritage Preservation Committee that trashed a proposed Water Street Inn trash enclosure was upheld by the Stillwater City Council Tuesday.
Water Street Inn owner and Oak Park Heights City Councilman Chuck Dougherty appeared before council to appeal the HPC ddenial of the proposed trash enclosure Dougherty wanted to build near the downtown pedestrian walkway.
The HPC’s denial was based on a previous agreement between the Water Street Inn and city for the hotel to build a trash enclosure abutting the west side of the hotel. In the past, Dougherty has apparently been using a trash area near the pedestrian walkway.
“Dougherty proposed a different location across Myrtle (Street) to construct an enclosed trash area in the parking lot and one location along the retaining wall for a walkway, but the location at Myrtle would obstruct the view of the river and construction of a trash enclosure near the walkway was concerning to the HPC due to smells that may occur from trash when people are enjoying their lunch or dinner there,” said Community Development Director Bill Turnblad.
Dougherty told the council he wants to move forward with a trash enclosure at the southwest corner of the parking lot and would work with his architect to build an enclosure that blends in with the pedestrian walkway. But Dougherty disagreed when Councilman Mike Polehna asked if Dougherty could abide with the agreement to put the trash enclosure on his patio.
“We would have to move the bar and the fire escape in the area and I don’t see how that would be feasible,” Dougherty said. “As far as I know, the trash area has never been in the building and has always been in the northeast corner of the parking lot. This is a leftover piece of the pedestrian walkway project. If I would’ve known there was an issue with the trash, I would’ve been more specific in our agreements.”
“The issue is fairly straightforward. There was a signed agreement with a special use permit in 1994 to put the garbage inside. In 2011, there was a concession made so it could be placed adjacent to the building, In the special use permit agreement it all has to be located inside the building area, and for 20 years it hasn’t been done.” said HPC member Brian Larson.
He added that the locations suggested by Dougherty compete with the view of the St. Croix River as people enter from Myrtle Street and putting a trash enclosure near the new pedestrian walkway went against common sense.
“From my understanding the bar was built without permit approval and did not come before the HPC. The suggested building came through the area adjacent to the exit door and would accommodate the exit stair. I believe people will appreciate that this is not a case of inflexibility, or us being unreasonable and it’s not about being anti-business at all. It’s simply about being fair,” Larson said.
Councilman Doug Menikheim said until the issue was brought to his attention, he hadn’t noticed the trash area near the Pedestrian Plaza and asked what options were available if Dougherty’s appeal was denied. Menikheim did acknowledge that trash is a problem in the city.
“I really don’t care if the bar was built with a permit or not, I understand that construction will be a hardship to Chuck, but that bar is still close to the building. He makes this a tougher decision because he’s a good business owner, but I think he should apply it to prior conditions,” added Councilman Tom Weidner. “The reason the HPC goes through this set up is to beautify our downtown and it may cause a redesign, but we need to start to beautify our downtown area, and that’s not a dumpster enclosure in a parking lot.”
When Menikheim asked Weidner if he was willing to apply that idea across all businesses in the future, Weidner agreed.
“We need to start taking a strong stand when it comes to trash. We need to clean up our downtown and end it. Our alleys are atrocious,” Polehna said.
A motion to deny Dougherty’s appeal passed 3-1 with Menikheim dissenting.
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