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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Good Process

The past week has been very busy, so I'm late in writing this, but I wanted to say that I thought there was a lot to like about last Monday's council meeting (April 28). In particular the wetland ordinance discussion at the end seemed to me to be a good example of the way that, as a council and a community, we should operate.

At issue were changes to the wetland ordinance, which I have discussed previously. The agenda item was the second reading of the proposed changes; if we had approved it, they would have become law as soon as they were published in the official newspaper.

A number of residents came forward with concerns. On the whole, my sense was that the residents supported the intent and general thrust of the changes and placed a high value on water quality and wetland preservation, but they were calling the council's attention to specific issues that concerned them in terms of the impact and possible unintended consequences in their own neighborhoods. They brought the issues forward in a manner that was reasoned, respectful and constructive, and all of us -- the council, the city staff, the chair of the Environmental & Natural Resources Commission -- listened and discussed their points.

In the end, the council decided (with what looked to me like the agreement of city staff and the commission chair) to table the second reading, and refer the ordinance back to the Environmental Commission for another look in light of the concerns that had been raised (and, I hope, with the continued involvement of the residents who brought those concerns to us).

I am hopeful that this is a sign of things to come, in terms of how the council and the city can work together in a positive way.

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