A preemptive effort by several Minneapolis City Council members to state a preferred route for a new Xcel high-voltage power line through south Minneapolis blew up Friday when their colleagues cried foul.
The trio of council members -- Gary Schiff, Robert Lilligren and Cam Gordon -- wanted the utility to delay its application to the state for the line and two related substations until it provides a more thorough analysis of the need and alternatives.
If no alternative emerged in that analysis, the trio said, the line should be buried beneath E. 28th Street.
But their resolution was shunted to committee after other council members chided them for trying to get the council to adopt a position without public hearings or notice.
"We have a responsibility outside an empty room," Council Member Lisa Goodman said.
Xcel has said it plans to apply to the state to proceed with the project early this year, start work by late in the year and use the lines in 2010. It plans to present its review of substation sites and transmission line routes to the community this week.
The utility has said that increasing electrical loads in the Midtown area of south Minneapolis are taxing its current lines. It wants to construct an east-west high-voltage line in a corridor between E. 26th and E. 31st Streets, branching from its current line along Hiawatha Avenue.
Opponents charge that Xcel hasn't done enough to prove the need or that demand can't be managed by conservation. They express fear about the electromagnetic fields of such a line and some want it buried, which would raise costs considerably.
In other action Friday, the council:
• Approved the layout for the conversion of Hennepin Avenue and 1st Avenue. N. to two-way streets.
• Concluded a decade-long debate over street-lighting practices. Among the key changes are a requirement for light fixtures that are more efficient at directing illumination and new procedures for residential areas to get ornamental lighting. The changes set a 70 percent approval threshold for a residential area to petition for ornamental lighting, which is assessed against property owners. But it will automatically be included on the few blocks of residential streets the city reconstructs each year unless half of property owners petition to opt out.
• Approved changes in parking requirements for businesses that generally reduce the number of spots that must be provided, and give credit for meeting customer needs through bike racks and other incentives.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438