Final Debate Recap

The League of Women Voters hosted the final debate for the 2014 election season on Thursday October 23.

I started the debate by thanking my opponent, Joe Selton, for the positive and issues-based race we have had.  I am pleased this campaign has been largely free of the personal attacks and name calling that has been seen in other races this year, and I am pleased our debate kept up that tone.  Joe and I are both people who care about Crystal, but just have different ideas about how to get the work done.

I believe I have the right mix of experience and fresh perspective that is required to move Crystal forward, and I believe my focus on actually listening to and engaging citizens sets me apart.  I hope that you agree, and that I can earn your vote on November 4.

Time flew by, and I was really kind of bummed that I didn’t get to answer a question that was asked of the other candidates.  The question was “What are your ‘out of the box’ ideas for Crystal.”

I have two, and they are patterned on the recent “un-session” in the legislature.

First I think we should have an ordinance commission, which would be focused on repealing and/or re-writing old city ordinances.  We have more lines in our city code than we have residents, and we have some pretty laughable ordinances on the books.  There’s a whole section on regulating fortune tellers. Really. We should modernize our city code with the help of interested citizens.

The second is based on Governor Dayton’s 2014 executive order that the government communicate with the citizens in plain language.  That idea was mocked by some as unnecessary or silly, but I actually liked it.  I received a letter from the city a few weeks ago that pertained to the Gaulke Pond home development. I received the letter because I live close to the proposed development, so it’s the same letter that my neighbors received.  Despite the fact that I am on the planning commission, and relatively well informed about the details of the project, I had no idea what the point of the letter was. When the city communicates, we should do so in the easiest to understand way possible- and leave off the legal speak and other mumbo jumbo.

Jeff Kolb on NW City Politics

I was on “NW City Politics” earlier this month, which is a local program about politics and policy that airs on Northwest Community Television.  The episode originally aired on October 15, and included interviews with four local candidates from other cities.  My interview is excerpted below.

Thanks to host and producer Juanita Hoffe for the opportunity!

Crystal Planning Commission Recap – October 2014

Tonight’s Planning Commission meeting was a good one- we approved two new exciting projects for Crystal.

The first was a conditional use permit for outdoor seating for the Noodles & Company that will be opening in the new out-building at the Crystal Gallery Mall (next to Buffalo Wild Wings). The proposal passed unanimously after very little discussion. The architect did a good job working with the city to get everything in order before the meeting, so there really wasn’t anything to discuss.  The item now goes to the council for final approval.  I spoke with the architect after the meeting and he thinks they may be open for business before the end of this year.  The building will also house a Great Clips and a Starbucks with a drive-through.  It doesn’t appear that Starbucks will have outdoor seating, at least for now.

The second item was the continuation of the discussion of the development of the Gaulke property that we talked about at the last meeting.  I think it’s fair to say that tonight’s discussion went better than last time.

To catch you up- there is a proposal to develop the property that is located along Douglas Drive from about 39th to 40th Ave.  There is one house currently on that property, kind of right in the middle. The proposal is to knock down that house and divide the land into 15 single family home lots (13 would face Douglas, two would face Colorado on the back side of the property).

At the last meeting there were some concerns about the development, primarily about the management of the water runoff.  The majority of the commissioners voted to table the approval until this month. I voted in the dissent because I thought the developer and the city could work things out between the planning meeting and the city council meeting, but I was in the minority on that.

At tonight’s meeting the city staff was much more comfortable with the project, and recommended approval, as long as a few relatively minor conditions were met. (Mostly some housekeeping/paperwork stuff.)

The final sticking point relates to the driveways. The current plan calls for 13 new driveways on Douglas Drive, which is consistent with the number of driveways you’d find in that much road-front along the rest of the road. There had been some resistance from Hennepin County to approve a plan with that many driveways.  However, the developer felt that he could resolve that issue with the county.  At my suggestion the planning commission will send a letter to the county indicating that we approve of the driveway plan, in the hopes that it helps move the process along.

The project was unanimously approved.

I do want to mention and thank the resident who came to speak at the meeting tonight. It’s rare that we get public feedback at our meetings, so it’s always great to hear the concerns of the residents who live nearby a project we are discussing.  I’d also like to thank as always City Planner John Sutter, who did a great job working with the developer and the rest of the city staff to get everything in order so this project can move forward.

I’m excited for work to begin on this project!  I really think these homes will be a great new addition to Crystal, and I look forward to getting some new neighbors.

Prepared and paid for by the Kolb for Crystal Committee, PO Box 28373, Crystal, MN 55428