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Rosemount recently debuted its citizen comment map, an online tool allowing residents to offer comments about the city linked to geography.

Rosemount initially designed the map to help with the city’s comprehensive plan process, but it is now a regular feature on the city’s website at ci.rosemount.mn.us.

To weigh in on a new park or request a stop sign at an intersection, residents simply highlight that area on the map and type a comment, or they can type in the exact address for more specificity.

Viewers can give the posts a thumbs-up or thumbs-down and add their own comments. Names and e-mail addresses are optional.

The map aligns with the City Council’s transparency and community engagement goals, according to Rosemount’s website.

Erin Adler

Shakopee

Dakota tribe to build cultural center

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) broke ground on a new cultural center to serve as a gathering space, cultural activity site and public exhibit documenting the history of the tribe.

“It’s time to tell our story,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig in a prepared statement.

The building is called Hocokata Ti, which means “the lodge at the center of the camp” in the Dakota language. It is expected to open in 2019.

A representative from McGough Construction, the firm building the facility, said the company has not built anything like it before. It has a three-tiered roof and only one 90-degree angle on the center, said Carolyn Wolf, project manager for McGough Construction.

Plans for the cultural center feature medicinal gardens, walking trails, talking circles, an archery range, a Dakota language learning space, community gathering rooms and a public exhibition of Dakota artifacts. The building’s design reflects the tribe’s cultural heritage throughout, from the custom-made Dakota pattern on chairs to the seven 40-foot tepees that will border the exterior.

Erin Adler

Eagan

Council will hear resident’s appeal on neighbors’ solar-array structure

The Eagan City Council’s decision on whether to allow a solar structure on a residential lot despite a neighbor’s appeal has been postponed until its Tuesday meeting.

The City Council discussed resident Bridget Bataglia’s appeal at its Nov. 21 meeting and prepared a memo detailing the staff’s reasons for denying the appeal. The memo stated that Bataglia’s appeal was “factually incorrect” and “unsupported by the city’s zoning regulations.”

The city received a zoning permit application July 6 from Daniel and Katy Kieffer. They wanted to install an 11.5-kilowatt solar array on their 3.27-acre property at 3330 Dodd Road. The structure measures 12 by 60 feet and ascends to a height of 12 feet. The structure didn’t require a building permit under Minnesota’s state building code. Staff reviewed the application and determined it was a permitted “accessory structure,” according to city documents, and met all zoning regulations for accessory structures. City officials approved the zoning permit Aug. 2 and the structure was erected in September.

The city memo stated that Eagan approved zoning permits for other solar arrays in May and July, including one requiring a variance because of its front yard location.

In a letter to the city, Bataglia’s attorney argued that if the solar array is allowed as an accessory building, it must meet city code requirements for accessory buildings. The letter claims the array violates eight city code requirements.

In their response, city staff said that while they consider the solar array to be an accessory structure, it isn’t an accessory building and therefore doesn’t need to meet city requirements for one. But at the Nov. 21 meeting, council members decided the solar panels issue needed more discussion and admitted that elements of previous decisions regarding solar panels may have been confusing to a layperson.

Council Member Cyndee Fields said she wouldn’t want such a structure next to her home.

Both Bataglia and Daniel Kieffer said they were open to devising a plan for more screening of the panels. Council members said they hope the neighbors can come up with one by Dec. 5.

Erin Adler

Victoria

Two city staff members leaving for new positions in Plymouth

Two staff members announced plans to leave the city of Victoria and begin jobs working for the city of Plymouth.

Laurie Hokkanen, Victoria’s city manager for three years, will leave Dec. 22 to become administrative services director for Plymouth.

Ben Landhauser, who served as the city’s community development director for three years, resigned effective Jan. 1 and will take on the economic development manager role in Plymouth.

Victoria has experienced ongoing turmoil and division after a judge found that four City Council members violated the state’s Open Meeting Law 38 times a year and a half ago. Since then, some plaintiffs have criticized city staff for agreeing to pay legal fees for the council members found guilty of the violations.

Erin Adler

West St. Paul

West St. Paul police giving away free gun locks through partnership

The West St. Paul police department is promoting free gun locks, which it continues to give away in the police department’s lobby at 1616 Humboldt Av. in West St. Paul. The locks are offered through a partnership with Project ChildSafe and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Erin Adler