The Burnsville City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit and variance Feb. 21 allowing the Berean Baptist Church to build a 30,000-square-foot, 1,043-seat auditorium onto its existing church.

The go-ahead came despite objections from neighborhood residents, including more than 100 who attended the council meeting.

Council members also got hundreds of letters and e-mails from supporters and opponents of the addition.

The church occupies a 17-acre parcel at 309 County Road 42 East, near a housing development called Interlachen Woods.

The neighborhood was built after the church was established in the 60s, said Deb Garross, city planner.

The neighbors’ main objections included additional traffic, especially on Innsbrook Lane, and the 42-foot-high auditorium.

The planning commission voted against recommending the project Feb. 13.

Erin Adler

Farmington

Consulting group recommends more cops

A consulting group recommended that the Farmington police department hire three new staff members immediately — two patrol officers and an administrative captain — and add two more patrol officers in the next few years if the city’s growth continues as projected.

The City Council discussed the report, completed by McGrath Consulting Group, at the Feb. 13 work session.

Farmington Police Chief Brian Lindquist said he agreed with the study’s findings.

“It’s been my contention that we have been in need of additional help for a while now,” Lindquist said. “We haven’t hired a police officer in seven years.”

Lindquist said he will be taking applications and plans to hire a replacement this year for a retiring sergeant. The department also needs to replace Bosco, its police dog, who has been placed on permanent light duty after eight years and will retire soon, he said. Training for a replacement dog and its new handler begins March 6.

Erin Adler

Shakopee

Public works director to retire after 21 years

Longtime Shakopee public works director and city engineer Bruce Loney announced he will retire at the end of May.

Loney, who joined the city in 1995 as their lone engineer, now manages a department of 36 employees. He has overseen Shakopee’s expanding infrastructure, including roads, trails, sanitary sewer and surface water. Before Shakopee, Loney spent a decade working as the assistant city engineer in Prior Lake.

In January, he was recognized as Engineer of the Year by the City Engineers Association of Minnesota (CEAM) during a ceremony in Brooklyn Center.

“The trophy case is full,” Mayor Bill Mars joked after Loney’s retirement announcement during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

City Administrator Bill Reynolds has previously praised Loney for guiding Shakopee through “unprecedented growth.”

Liz Sawyer

New Prague

City establishes sex offender ordinance

The New Prague City Council voted in February to approve the draft of an ordinance that would severely restrict where sex offenders can live.

Under the policy, Level 3 sex offenders — those considered most like to reoffend — would be barred from establishing permanent or temporary residences within 1,500 feet of any school, park, library, place of worship, vulnerable adult housing, or anywhere children may be known to gather. Similar ordinances have passed in more than 40 other localities in the state.

The council approved the draft ordinance despite concerns raised by Council Member Dave Bruzek, who worried it might provide a false sense of security for the public. New Prague’s version of the law would largely relegate Level 3 offenders — there are currently none in the city — to the outskirts of town.

“This ordinance is going to be put into place to help protect everyone in New Prague, but it is not fail-safe,” Council Member Amy Jirik wrote in the city newsletter.

Council members said they wanted to be proactive in case offenders in the state’s sex offender program win their release.

Liz Sawyer