Here’s a fun game for Minnetrista voters to play. Below is the donor list from Lisa Whalen’s pre-general mayoral campaign report totaling over $15,000. See if you can match up the highlighted individuals from Whalen’s trial exhibit, which shows those involved in setting up the illegal “Our Minnetrista” financial scheme, to her donor list. You’ll get bonus points for identifying other school board members, council members (or their spouses), and planning commission members (or spouses). Comment your results below and the winner with the most dots will be announced November 3.
A new housing development proposed in Minnetrista to be located north of CR110W and just west of Saunders Lake will be before the city’s planning commission tomorrow night, Monday, 10/25/2020, at 7pm (call in numbers below). The planning commission agenda shows the concept/sketch plan from Summergate Companies is the only item on the agenda.
I intend to call in and I encourage other residents that value our parks and open spaces to attend as well.
When a developer is forced to pay cash in lieu of providing land for parks the inevitable result is housing that is denser and of lesser quality in order to afford paying those fees.
I’m guessing Minnetrista residents would rather see the very generous allocation of lands in this development going to parks and open spaces than to see those spaces crammed with dense housing. It appears, however, the Parks Commission, at the direction of staff, is recommending cash in lieu:
“After review, the Parks Commission unanimously directed the10/13/2020 Parks Commission meeting
Applicant to consider a hybrid, land dedication and cash-in-lieu, approach to the
required park dedication as well as possible trail connections. If cash-in-lieu is
considered, an appraisal should be required to determine fair market value.”
If we are to preserve and protect the rural landscape and ambience of Minnetrista we must have policies that do just that and a mayor that values our parks and open spaces more than the cash balance in our parks fund which, btw, has over $1M balance at the moment.
To listen live to the Minnetrista Planning Commission meeting: call +1 (571) 317-3122 and enter meeting Access Code 651-586-797 #, or join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone by accessing the following: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/651586797
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The proposal for the ground mounted solar farm on the Ag Preserve parcel was soundly defeated last night at Minnetrista’s council meeting. At one point during the online meeting I counted 30 people on the call and the council received a steady stream of letters of opposition since the proposal appeared here on October 7.
The issue wasn’t around the pros or cons of solar energy production, it was about a 2015 ordinance, passed under the leadership of Lisa Whalen, that made ground mounted solar farms a “permitted use” on Minnetrista’s Ag Preserve parcels without requiring the notification of neighbors, establishing limits or defining other parameters around commercial/industrial uses and visual aesthetics.
The proposal came to the council with a recommendation from the Planning Commission to approve it. Minnetrista council candidate and planning commission member Damian Young voted, along with the entire planning commission to unanimously recommend it’s passage. It was clear from the contents of the council packet for Monday’s meeting that our city attorney had spent considerable time defending the proposal and justifying how it met all the requirements in order to be passed.
I have no doubt, absent resident involvement and their willingness to express their opposition, this proposal would likely have passed last night.
For now the council decided to place a moratorium on ground mounted solar farms on Ag Preserve parcels in order to have time to review the 2015 ordinance and either modify or rescind it.
Knowing what is coming before the council is necessary to protect residents’ interests. Citizen involvement in Minnetrista is important and makes a difference in how our city is governed. It’s not enough to merely post a 200 page council packet on the city’s website or put legal notices in small print in the local newspaper. Minnetrista needs to do a better job engaging and welcoming resident involvement instead of issuing veiled threats to council members that do.
Summergate Companies submitted a concept sketch plan to the Parks Commission at their meeting last night (Agenda Packet) for a Minnetrista housing development of approximately 200 homes located north of CR 110W, southwest of Saunders Lake, west of the existing Saunders Lake South development, and east of Halstead Drive.
The plan was presented along with a proposal, by one of the land owners, to sell a 28 acre parcel, just north of the proposed development, to Three Rivers Parks District. The 28 acre parcel is adjacent to Gale Woods Farm.
I was surprised staff was recommending, in lieu of the generous parks and open spaces designated in this development, that cash be required instead to go into the city’s Park Development Fund. Below is the staff recommendation from the agenda:
Recommended Action: Motion to direct the Applicant to submit a preliminary plat application, which includes a fair market land value appraisal, with the understanding that cash in lieu of land in the sum of 11% of the fair market value of the land will be required for the park dedication requirement.
This sketch plan is a model of providing plentiful natural open spaces and parks to future Minnetrista residents that will enjoy them and supports Minnetrista’s stated goal to protect the rural character of our community. The consequence of requiring cash in lieu of land is developers will fill in the open spaces and parks with houses to afford to pay the sum to the city. I don’t believe that is what residents want.
If Minnetrista wants to preserve parks and open space we need to encourage developers to do that, not discourage them by requiring cash-in-lieu of land when land is available, as in this case, and appropriately used in a development.
The Parks Commission ultimately made a motion to recommend a reduced amount of cash-in-lieu of land, given the generosity of an additional donation of 40 acres to Three Rivers Park District which hadn’t been considered in the formula for the development’s park dedication requirement. They also decided not to require a fair market value appraisal of the land and for the developer to submit a revised plan.
The next step is the city’s Planning Commission that will study a revised plan in November. Hopefully they will value Minnetrista’s parks and open spaces more than adding cash to Minnetrista’s Parks fund that currently has a pretty healthy balance of close to $1M (according to staff last night).
I don’t watch much TV so I had no idea who Leslie Knope was when I saw this post on mayoral candidate Lisa Whalen’s Facebook page this morning. So a quick search turned up this Wikipedia page. Evidently she’s a fictional character on the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation.
Some exerpts from the Wikipedia page show the personality type of the character:
Personality – Leslie Knope
Leslie Knope is extremely cheerful, ambitious, hard-working and optimistic.
Although somewhat naive, she is intelligent, well-read, and has good intentions, but is not always successful in executing her goals.
She repeatedly tries to put a positive spin on failure, even to the point where she will occasionally distort the truth in her own view.
She has a crush on former Vice President Joe Biden, and harbors an irrational hatred of public libraries, salads, and the wealthy neighboring town of Eagleton—which Leslie found out, to her sheer horror, was actually her birthplace.
Leslie views herself as a budding political star in the style of Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi..
Although she is shown to be running for the city council as an independent, she joins the Democratic Party at some point, as she is approached by “Janet from the DNC” about a potential gubernatorial bid in the final season.
Yes, I’m afraid we have a “real life” Leslie Knope in our midst.
Mayor Whalen appears to think she’s going to solve Minnetrista’s dismal state of high-speed internet access in the two months before the general election.
What she doesn’t realize is we should’ve begun our research, established a goal and made a plan to reach it several years ago when I pushed to include it in Minnetrista’s strategic plan. Nothing substantive has been done under her leadership charting the course of our work sessions and council meetings all these years.
This company she’s “in discussions with” is just another fixed wireless provider like others residents already have access to and have not met their needs for streaming movies and simultaneous multiple users.
We need to define what “high-speed” means because many of these companies use the term loosely in their marketing messages but don’t show consumers what their average upload and download speeds are.
There are three tiers and multiple spectrums used in transmitting wireless signals and providers can actually transmit 5G (most people think that’s fastest) in the lower tier and have speeds slower than 4G signals transmitted in the mid-tier.
Mayor Whalen is a little late to the table convincing voters she cares about their internet access. The next four years will look just like the past six if she’s reelected.
My recommendation has been to pull together a broadband working group with the expertise to understand the technology, define and set our goal and lay out a plan to get there. Attempts at a quick fix with one provider are not going to lead to success.
I have been a strong voice on the city council trying to bring attention to the dismal state of high speed internet access in Minnetrista. I asked for it to be added as a goal in the city’s strategic plan many years ago but absolutely nothing of any substance has been done.
In examining Mediacom’s non-exclusive contract with the city it was brought to my attention that Mediacom had agreed to extend it’s system by January 2019 to the Phase 2 map below:
Please don’t call city hall if you live in the Phase 2 circle, like I do, and don’t have service. Mediacom has not extended its system where contractually obligated and the city needs to hold them accountable with fines until they do. Those fines should have started in January 2019. If they had we likely would have service to these areas by now.
A special shout out to Mr. Reinholdz, a resident who spoke at our council meeting “Persons to be heard” session last Monday night. He had some great insights into this issue.
Minnetrista needs new leadership to restore public confidence in our city government. The negative attacks on my mayoral campaign are retaliation for winning this lawsuit against Lisa Whalen and her campaign committee last summer. She should have stepped down then when she was asked to. Now voters get to decide.
There are two candidates for mayor in Minnetrista in the general election, the incumbent and myself. If you’re like most people you probably don’t pay much attention to local government elections. I certainly didn’t until I was asked to run for the city council. What I’ve seen and experienced there is why I had to run. We need to restore trust in our leadership and transparency in our city government. Above is my video message to Minnetrista.
I have been a voice putting residents first:
- Stopping Met Council restrictions from becoming city policy in our Comprehensive Plan
- Adding the goal of reliable high-speed Internet to our strategic plan for all of Minnetrista
- Pushing to end an unnecessary emergency order and for citizens to be able to speak before the council
- Pressuring the city to appoint a party-balanced absentee ballot board – for the first time, bringing integrity to our elections
- Exposing countless conflicts of interest in our city government.
I have never voted for an annual tax levy that would result in an increase in your city property taxes. There is ample growth in our community to provide revenue for city services to our new residents.
I have been a vocal proponent for competitive bidding and have often been the sole dissenting vote on contracts because of it.
I believe in the rule of law and holding our elected representatives accountable. How someone runs their campaign is reflective of how they will lead. We need new leadership in Minnetrista. Please donate to the Shannon Bruce for Mayor Committee. Put Minnetrista back in your hands!
Over the last few weeks I’ve met with several broadband professionals in both Minnetrista and other parts of the twin cities to discuss how we can make reliable high speed internet available to everyone in Minnetrista.
It starts with engaging the right people that understand this rapidly changing technology and the political landscape where it is deployed. I am meeting with and interviewing individuals to establish, once elected Mayor, a Minnetrista broadband working group that will help us navigate the technological, legal and logistical challenges ahead. I am more confident than ever this is not an insurmountable challenge if the right stakeholders are at the table.
I have been an advocate since I’ve been on the city council to establish an advisory body on high speed internet. I was the council member to first suggest putting high speed internet access for Minnetrista as a strategic goal several years ago. At our strategy meeting last spring I pushed to change our stated objective from a passive statement of merely acknowledging the goal to proactively getting creative about solving the issue. But one council member has no authority on their own.
I’ve worked in technology companies my entire career and also understand the political landscape in which we work. Putting solutions together requires bringing the right players to the table and I am meeting, not only with industry professionals but also with other elected officials in nearby cities and counties to do just that.
Minnetrista needs a champion on this issue with a determination to make it happen.