A Bloomington resident is asking city leaders to loosen restrictions on which households are allowed to raise chickens in their backyards.
Maren Quickert posted a petition online last month seeking a change in the city code regarding backyard chicken coops. She said she wanted to raise hens to have fresh eggs and teach her children about responsibility.
Currently, coops must be at least 50 feet from surrounding properties. Each home is limited to four hens.
“We realized that our code is extremely restrictive,” Quickert said, and that few households in Bloomington can raise chickens as a result.
Quickert’s petition asks that residents with chickens be able to bypass the setback if they have approval from 75 percent of homeowners within 100 feet. It also seeks to raise the maximum number of hens to six.
The petition had nearly 300 signatures as of a few days ago. “I was extremely pleased with how many people in Bloomington also would like to see the code change,” she said.
Quickert and her 7-year-old daughter spoke May 21 at the City Council meeting to present the petition. She said that city staffers called her and said they would review the code.
Council to vote on raising tobacco sales age
Richfield is poised to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 this summer, as neighboring suburbs and Minneapolis have done.
The City Council is scheduled to vote June 12 on an amendment raising the sales age. It voted unanimously May 22 to approve the first reading of the proposed rule.
The amendment would prohibit the sale of tobacco and related items, including vape pens such as Juuls, to anyone under the age of 21. It would also eliminate penalties if someone underage is found buying, using or possessing tobacco products.
“Research has shown that these types of penalties do not deter tobacco use in young people,” said Jennifer Anderson, Richfield’s support services supervisor, in a news release.
The city’s Advisory Board of Health, as well as the anti-smoking coalition Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, supports the amendment. Richfield has 22 licensed tobacco vendors.
If the amendment passes, Richfield will join Bloomington, Edina, St. Louis Park and others in what has become a national movement, “Tobacco 21,” to raise the sales age. The Minneapolis City Council approved a similar measure on May 25.
Crews begin renovating water tower
Crews have begun work on a monthslong project to update the Hidden Ponds Water Tower in Eden Prairie.
The 37-year-old water tower, located off Dell Road next to Hidden Ponds Park, was last repainted 21 years ago. The city is calling the $1.3 million project a “much-needed face-lift” for the tower.
A rendering of the updated water tower features the city’s name, grass and a flying bird.
Workers will sandblast and repaint the interior and exterior of the tower, which holds about 1 million gallons of water. A giant curtain will be raised to trap dust during both processes. Painters will spray a primer coat and roll multiple coats of paint on the tank.
The project is expected to be finished by September.
Plans move ahead for library renovation
The Hennepin County Board has approved initial designs and a contract to begin architectural and engineering work for the Eden Prairie Library, slated for a major renovation starting this fall.
The County Board awarded the $895,000 architectural and engineering work contract to MSR Design architects of Minneapolis. The board also directed the county administrator to contract with builders for the project, provided bids are within approved budgets.
The $12.1 million project will modernize the library, promising more space for patrons, new lighting, designated quiet areas, electrical updates and improved outdoor seating.
Work is scheduled to begin later this year and take approximately nine months to finish. Save for delays, the library will reopen for business in Fall 2019.
Aside from some outdoor additions in 2010, the library building — once a grocery store — hasn’t been seriously renovated since 2004. It’s the sixth most used branch of the Hennepin County Library system’s 41 libraries. In 2016, Eden Prairie recorded nearly 260,000 visits.
Information on the project and design renderings will be presented at a public meeting at 7 p.m. on June 11 at the library, 565 Prairie Center Drive.
Moore wins Outstanding Citizen award
Tanya Moore, a paraprofessional who works with Columbia Heights public schools, has been named the city’s Outstanding Citizen for 2018. She will be recognized at the Columbia Heights City Council meeting on June 11.
Moore, married and the mother of five children, has been active in community organizations since moving to Columbia Heights 17 years ago. She is on the board of directors for Columbia Heights Athletic Boosters and will soon join a group of volunteers that advises the police department on diversity issues, the Multicultural Advisory Committee. She is a longtime member of the Lions Club and a regular volunteer with youth sports.
Moore was nominated for the annual award by Nick Novitsky, a City Council member and president of the Lions Club. “Every time I see her she’s doing something that will benefit the community,” he said, in a statement. “She’s always willing to do what she can to help out anybody, and she does it without hesitation or complaint.”
Mayor Donna Schmitt and Amada Márquez Simula, last year’s Outstanding Citizen, chose Moore from a group of nominees for the award. It’s meant to recognize Columbia Heights residents who put the needs of others before their own.