As nearly every city and state is battling to balance local budgets, it’s no secret that the federal government is also struggling to do so, too. U.S. House Rep. Keith Ellison (D-District 5) made a brief visit to the meeting to talk about what he and the U.S. legislature are currently working on.
“There will be a budget battle which is going to deal with the entire [federal government’s] budget,” Ellison said. “[President Obama] put forth his budget … and we have yet to receive the Republican House budget and the Senate has not yet put [it’s] up.”
President Obama’s budget included cuts to heat assistance programs, which would be something Ellison said he would fight to leave unharmed since it is so important to cold-weather states like Minnesota. The budget battle will likely last for several more weeks.
Ellison also discussed the federal government’s spending bill, foreign affairs in relation to the turmoil in Egypt right now, local project funding and the U.S. debt ceiling.
In addition to Ellison’s presentation, the city council had a full agenda and dealt with everything from how to allocate grant funds to approving amendments to city code:
After announced it had filed for bankruptcy—and that its Richfield store along with many others would be closing—the city almost immediately called CSM, Shops at Lyndale owner and property manager, to see what the plans would be to fill the space.
“[The city was told that CSM] had been quietly marketing the space for a year,” said John Stark, director of community development.
CSM had been anticipating the potential fall of Borders and already have a potential tenant that would take half of the space, according to Stark. However, Stark anticipated the company would wait a bit and try and find a tenant to occupy the whole space.
“Worst case scenario would be having half of the space empty,” Stark added.
Also on the city council’s agenda were two public hearings for resolutions to amend the city’s comprehensive plan and how to spend a Hennepin County grant:
1) Community members and business representatives were welcomed to give their opinions regarding the planned use of 2011 Urban Hennepin County Community Development Block Grant Program funds. The funds will be used for both public services and HRA site acquisition and demolition. After the close of the hearing, all city council members voted to approve the resolution.
2) A resolution to amend the Richfield Comprehensive Plan to designating multiple sites to as community commercial 6901 Penn Avenue as medium-high residential. After a bit of discussion, the hearing was closed and all council members approved of the amendment.
In other business:
- All consent calendar items were approved;
- The council approved the second reading of an ordinance to amend Richfield City Code to allow criminal background checks on applicants for certain types of licenses;
- The council passed an ordinance to amend Richfield City Code to change the zoning regulation of 7410 and 7420 Cedar Avenue from two-family residential to multi-family residential, respectively, to general commercial property. This will bring that area into compliance with the Richfield Comprehensive Plan;
- An ordinance to amend Richfield City Code to change the minimum parking requirements for take-out only restaurants was passed;
- A resolution was approved to amend the final development plan and conditional use permit for planned unit development at 7610, 7630 and 7644 Lyndale—or Kensington Park—to allow another restaurant space for take-out only facilities. Sarpinos Pizza is the interested tenant.
The next Richfield City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 8 at Richfield City Hall.