The West St. Paul City Council took its first steps Monday toward barring anyone under the age of 21 from buying tobacco.

Police Chief Bud Shaver introduced the measure, saying that raising the purchasing age from 18 to 21 would help keep high school students who are 18 from buying tobacco for underage friends.

Council Member Dave Napier called the issue “a tough one” because smoking tobacco in the city is still legal.

At least seven Minnesota cities in the past year have raised their sales age for tobacco to 21. Edina was the first to do so last May, with cities from St. Louis Park to Mankato following suit.

The City Council will hold a public hearing when the ordinance has its second reading.

Erin Adler

Minnetonka

Council rejects plans for Jewish center

The Minnetonka City Council last week rejected plans to build a Jewish community center in the northeast section of the city, with officials saying it was too large for the area.

The facility, proposed by Chabad Center for Jewish Life, was planned for a neighborhood off Hopkins Crossroad and south of Hillside Lane W. It was to include worship space, classrooms, a library and social hall.

But council members said it would snarl traffic along Hopkins Crossroad and denied a permit for the project on a 6-1 vote. The council had delayed the vote to give developers time to fine-tune the proposal.

Chabad centers are designed to help Jewish communities learn about and practice Judaism in an informal way. There are a handful of Chabad centers around the state, including in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park.

Miguel Otárola

Anoka County

New phone app aims to boost recycling

Anoka County residents can now turn to a new phone app to find out whether a household item can be recycled and where to do it.

The “Anoka County Recycles” app tells residents where to recycle, compost or dispose of items. The app allows users to search items in the county’s recycling and disposal directory and find the drop-off locations to dispose those that can be recycled.

County officials did a soft launch of the app in May and hope it will help boost recycling rates. Last year, about 53 percent of the county’s waste was recycled or composted. Officials want to raise that to 75 percent by 2030, said Jacob Saffert, the county’s problem materials program specialist.

Hannah Covington