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The Duluth Economic Development Authority will consider an agreement Wednesday night that could spur the growth of the Ramsey Village Townhomes development. If approved, the package would provide tax-increment financing for the project, which is expected to result in the construction of at least another 20 townhouse units and perhaps 24 to 28 more in the future if additional land can be acquired by the developer, Thies & Talle Properties.
At a time when much of Minnesota is experiencing population growth, the Twin Ports area is fighting to hold its own. Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week indicate that the Duluth-Superior metropolitan statistical area (MSA) — including St. Louis, Douglas and Carlton counties — actually lost 172 people from 2016 to 2017. That stands in stark contrast to the state of Minnesota, which experienced positive net domestic migration for the first time in a decade, with about 8,000 more people moving to the state than residents moving away in 2017.
The Duluth City Council will face some tough work Monday, as members seek to reach consensus on two thorny issues that have already generated extensive debate: Earned sick and safe time, and vacation rental homes. Sick & safe time Two weeks ago, councilors tabled the first reading of a proposed ordinance that would require local employers to provide workers with access to paid time off to deal with an illness or another family emergency, such as seeking refuge from domestic abuse.
The Minnesota Historical Society announced it will provide a $250,000 grant to help repair the damaged drill hall floor of the Duluth Armory on London Road. That grant, along with $50,000 in local matching funds, is expected to cover most of the cost of fixing the floor, which was damaged back when the hall was used as a public works garage and heavy equipment was parked there. LHB, a Duluth firm, is conducting a structural evaluation and will design a plan to shore up the floor.
Sunday night's fatal collision in Tempe, Ariz., in which a self-driven Uber car struck and killed a woman walking her bike, has focused new scrutiny on emerging automotive technologies. Meanwhile, Minnesota is trying to imagine what the transportation landscape of the future could look like and how to navigate it. Toward that end, Gov. Mark Dayton appointed a 15-member advisory council earlier this month to offer recommendations about how best to regulate the use of autonomous vehicles.
Some of Duluth's neighbors soon could get a break on their water bills. On Tuesday, the Duluth Public Utilities Commission will consider a resolution that would lower the fee the city charges water customers in the neighboring communities of Hermantown, Proctor and Rice Lake. If the proposal passes, all three communities will pay the same rate — $3.02 per 100 cubic feet of water consumed, as of May 1. The neighboring cities currently all have different water rates, with Proctor paying the most.
A recently released report explores some of Duluth's housing challenges, including the high cost of building a home in the city. While Duluth has made progress adding to its inventory of rental housing in recent years, the pace of construction for single-family homes has fallen woefully short of goals set forth in a market analysis conducted by Maxfield Research & Consulting LLC. To accommodate the city's anticipated growth, the firm predicted in 2014 that Duluth would need an additional 4,470 units of housing by 2020.
Comments made by Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle at a Monday meeting have stirred calls this week for his condemnation, censure and even resignation. The controversy involves Fosle's ruminations regarding a proposed policy that would require local employers to provide their workers with paid time off to deal with illnesses or other family crises. During a public comment period, Christina St. Germaine spoke in favor of a strong earned sick and safe time policy, drawing on her own experience 31 years ago.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson chose the newly renovated NorShor Theatre as the venue for her third State of the City address Thursday night, saying: "Just a few years ago, this grand theater had fallen into complete disrepair. "Despite its rich history, it had been cast aside. It would have been easy to just ignore its important historical significance and let it go. But that didn't happen, because this community coalesced around a vision," she said. Larson went on to describe her own vision for Duluth as a leader in innovation, raising people up and creating opportunity.
The Duluth City Council hit pause Monday night on a proposed ordinance that would require local employers to provide their workers with paid time off benefits to deal with illnesses and other family crises. In all, four councilors offered five different amendments during what was to be the first reading of the ordinance. But with so many ideas being bandied about, the council chose to table the ordinance to allow for further discussion. Councilors reached that decision after hearing 13 people argue on different sides of the divisive issue.