Eden Prairie will allow residents to keep backyard chickens, joining a growing number of metro area cities — including Minneapolis, St. Paul and numerous suburbs — that allow chickens on residential properties.

The Eden Prairie City Council gave preliminary approval June 13 to an ordinance permitting chickens. In 2015, residents petitioned the city to consider allowing chickens in single-family neighborhoods, and the city included the issue in a community survey. If the measure gets final approval July 11 as expected, it will take effect later this summer. It contains some restrictions, including a maximum of four chickens per household.


Hennepin County fights off state records retention bill

Hennepin County was among the parties that fought off a bill in the Legislature this session that would have required local governments to save their records for longer periods.

The legislation was introduced after Hennepin County quietly changed its policy this year to automatically delete e-mails after six months. One county department, the Sheriff’s Office, automatically deletes e-mails after 30 days.

County leaders said the policy change saves $2 million a year in e-mail storage and helps them manage a growing mass of e-mails by deleting unnecessary ones and keeping only those needed for the official record.

But advocates of the legislation argued that the deletion policy allows public officials to destroy documents and e-mails, making public agencies less transparent.

The bill, House File 1185, would have required cities, school districts and other agencies to preserve all government records, including correspondence such as e-mails, for no less than three years. It had some legislative support but never got a hearing in the Senate.

Hennepin County officials last week called the Sheriff’s Office policy a “lightning rod,” and County Board Chairwoman Jan Callison asked if the county should consider revising it later this year. County staffers said that Hennepin County sees itself as a model for its e-mail retention policy and that the county will address data practices bills again at the 2018 Legislature.



Program approved to renovate storefronts

The Hopkins City Council approved a contract with a consulting group last week that will provide funding for up to 20 downtown businesses to improve their storefronts.

The new program, run by the Musicant Group, would give businesses grants of up to $500 to use for their storefronts, as well as “professional place-making consulting services.”

Called Friendly Store Fronts, the program could cost up to $45,000, with Hennepin County funding up to $30,000 of that amount. City officials hope Friendly Store Fronts leads to an increase in business along Mainstreet and makes the area more walkable, according to documents.

The renovated storefronts are scheduled to be showcased at an event along Mainstreet on Oct. 14.

Miguel Otárola


City wins annual ‘Step To It’ competition

Crystal was named the most active community in Hennepin County’s annual “Step To It” challenge, logging nearly 98 million steps in the monthlong contest to increase physical activity.

This year’s 5,500 participants logged more than 1.1 billion steps, more than last year’s total steps by more than 129 million, according to the county.

Shorewood residents won in the most active residents category, with an average 438,100 steps per resident, while Osseo won an award as most engaged community. The most active school award went to the School of Engineering and Arts in the Robbinsdale School District.

Winners of the challenge received Twins baseball tickets.



Oldest boat on Minnetonka to be event topic

The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society on Monday will host a history discussion aboard the historic steamboat Minnehaha.

The topic will be the oldest surviving boat on Lake Minnetonka, Volante, a racing sailboat that was designed in 1886 and used until the 1930s. Tickets are $20 for historical society members and $35 for nonmembers.

It’s part of the historical society’s “Tapping History” events that take place every month. For more details or tickets, go to elmhs.org.