Showing its continuing prosperity in the housing sector, Woodbury ranks second among metro-area cities in residential permits issued in the first 11 months of 2013.
The city had issued 331 permits by the end of November, second only to Lakeville's 345.
For November only, Woodbury's 25 permits ranked fourth behind Blaine, Lakeville and Ostego. Plymouth trailed at 23.
In another November-only category, Woodbury ranked fifth among cities with "permitted units," meaning the total number of living units including multifamily buildings. Minneapolis led the field with 212, followed by Blaine with 41, Lakeville with 34, Ostego with 33 and Woodbury with 26.
For the year, Minneapolis had the most total permitted units of any city with 2,782. In that category, Woodbury didn't rank in the top five.
No other Washington County city cracked the top five in any category. Numbers were issued Nov. 27 by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities.
Downtown hotel proposal gets TIF
A proposal for building a boutique hotel in some of Stillwater's oldest buildings moved forward when the City Council approved $1.15 million in tax-increment financing (TIF).
The agreement with Stillwater Caves, LLC, limits the city's initial payment to 25 percent of the total cost, or $287,500. The developer will earn the remainder as "qualified improvement costs" paid through a bank. The city expects it will be repaid on taxes generated from new revenue from the project.
The proposed hotel, in the historic Wolf Brewery complex at the south end of Stillwater's downtown, would have as many as 40 guest rooms and create about 40 new jobs. Stillwater Caves asked for TIF on grounds that the buildings would require extensive repairs to make it suitable for renovation.
Council Member Ted Kozlowski, who represents downtown Stillwater, said the agreement protects the city's interests while preserving structures of significant historic interest.
Mall to host Santa for breakfast event
A "Breakfast with Santa" event that features free photos with Santa and Christmas crafts for kids will be held at Valley Ridge Mall in Stillwater on Dec. 14.
The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon. Santa will arrive by fire truck at 9:30 a.m. The breakfast will cost $5 for adults and $2 for children. All proceeds will be donated to United Way of Washington County-East.
For more information, call 651-439-3838.
Ice skating classes coming in January
Registration has begun for the city of Scandia's winter recreation skating programs, which begin in January.
New this year is a six-week "Learn to Skate" program taught by a trained coach. The program is structured to teach recreational skating to children of varying abilities.
Also offered is the "Pleasure Skating" program. Volunteer adults will be available to provide supervision and guidance while participants practice their skills.
Preregistration is required by Dec. 27 to avoid a late fee. Registration forms and detailed information about the programs and costs can be found on the city's website at www.ci.scandia.mn.us.
City sells mailboxes that withstand plows
Swing-away mailboxes that can withstand the impact of snow from plows are being sold by the city of Forest Lake for $100. The cost includes the post. The mailboxes are adjustable and adaptable to any roadside location, the city said. The swing action eliminates shoveling out snow-buried mailboxes. To learn more about the swing-away mailbox, call 651-209-9726.
DNR issues warning on aerated lakes
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning ice anglers, snowmobilers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when going onto any lake covered or partly covered with ice, especially those that feature aeration systems.
"Open water areas created by aeration systems can shift or change shapes depending on weather conditions," said Marilyn Danks, DNR aquatic biologist. "Leaks may develop in air lines, creating other areas of weak ice or open water."
Aeration systems are generally operated from the time lakes freeze until ice breakup in the spring. They help prevent fish kills, but they also create areas of open water and thin ice, which are significant hazards.
Nine bodies of water are aerated in Washington County: Battle Creek (Mud), Cloverdale, Colby (new this season), Goose, McDonald, Pine Tree, Sand, and Shields lakes, and the St. Croix River marina.
City creates YouTube channel
The South Washington County Telecommunications Commission has created a YouTube channel for the city of Newport and has posted a number of videos highlighting community news.
Like many towns in the county, Newport already has a presence on social media, including Twitter and Facebook pages it uses to dispense information to residents.
The channel's URL is: http://bit.ly/1bkAPyy
Kevin Giles, Libor Jany and Jim anderson