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Today marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the 2012 flood that dumped 7.5 to 10 inches of rain on top of the Northland’s already-sodden landscape — enough to force waterways out of their banks and cause widespread damage. The recovery efforts continue even now, as crews work to stabilize local creeks, rebuild washed-out portions of Minnesota Highway 210 and gird the Thomson dam facility in anticipation of future floods.
A 5-3 vote of the Duluth City Council had been deemed sufficient to approve a zoning change for a proposed Kwik Trip station/store by Assistant City Attorney Bob Asleson Monday night. But come Tuesday, upon further legal review, councilors and the would-be developer, Brad Johnson, learned that in fact the zoning change had failed. "There was some confusion over the voting requirements," explained David Montgomery, chief administrative officer for the city of Duluth.
A divided Duluth City Council voted to approve a zoning change Monday night that could allow for the construction of a new Kwik Trip station/store across the street from Proctor, on Boundary Avenue South between Anchor Street and Park Place. Shain Stokke, who operates three gas station/convenience stores in the area, urged the council to reject the zoning change request. "I'm not afraid of competition. What I'm afraid of is saturation," he said.
A plan to lengthen Duluth's Western Waterfront Trail and shorten the scenic Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad will be unveiled Tuesday during a public meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Morgan Park Community Recreation Center, 1242 88th Ave. W. "Our charge as a community is to decide the most publicly beneficial way to improve and use an extraordinarily valuable and extraordinarily limited resource — 7 miles of nearly continuous city-owned riverfront. That decision is as complicated as it is important," said Jim Filby Williams, Duluth's director of public administration.
Parasitic wasps could be deployed this summer to combat an infestation of emerald ash borers discovered in the northwest portion of Duluth's Hartley Park. Monday night, the Duluth City Council will consider a resolution authorizing the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to introduce parasitic wasps that could help hold the invasive beetles in check.
A plan to explore a six-year proposal to substantially increase Duluth's water rates could fly off the rails before an anticipated community-wide discussion even begins. A resolution proposed by 4th District City Councilor Howie Hanson seeks to veto a Duluth Public Utilities Commission resolution that lays out a plan to potentially boost the cost of city water by 4.7 percent annually for the next six years.
The prospect of a new Kwik Trip convenience store coming to Duluth's Boundary Avenue, at the doorstep of Proctor, excites some neighbors but frightens others. Shain Stokke, who already operates three gas station/convenience stores in the area, contends the proposed Kwik Trip — just down the street from Stokke's Proctor Market — would place his very livelihood at stake. "I'm one of the only little chains left," he said, running through a litany of other station/stores that have closed in the wake of Kwik Trip's expansion into other parts of the region.
In the wake of a tumultuous legislative session, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called on Duluth on Wednesday afternoon to laud local lawmakers for their advocacy on behalf of Northland projects and to roundly criticize several aspects of Republican-drawn bills he reluctantly signed into law the previous evening. Dayton also explained his decision to veto a bill that would have stripped cities of their ability to set their own labor standards, including minimum pay requirements and basic worker benefits.
After nearly a year of work, the renovation of downtown Duluth's NorShor Theatre is about 60 percent complete, and the project remains on track to be finished by December. That was the gist of an update Christine Gradl Seitz provided during a Wednesday morning news conference in the historic theater's lobby. As the executive and artistic director of the Duluth Playhouse, she expressed confidence the NorShor will be completely ready for the troupe's opening-night performance of the musical "Mamma Mia" come Feb. 1, 2018.
A lawsuit has further clouded the already uncertain future of the former Kozy Bar & Apartments building in downtown Duluth. Paul King, a previous owner of the fire-damaged building, has filed suit against St. Louis County and the Duluth Economic Development Authority, alleging that the seizure and sale of the property last year was unlawful.