• 24Jul

    Section 2 (of 3) of the comprehensive plan is now available. I spent a good portion of the weekend reading it. It appears outstanding. Section 3 is still a little rough. This is the first full update to the plan the guides community development since the mid to late 1970s. This plan appears to significantly improve the City of Rochester’s focus on the responsible use of financial resources.

    Comprehensive Plan Section 2

    I hope that section 3 will be coming shortly. It is imperative that the council adopt a strong plan, and stick to it.

    Expect that I will organize many community listening sections to discuss this topic.



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  • 09Apr

    Here is our Public Works Department draft 2017 Herbicide use policy. If you have any feedback please leave it in the comments.


  • 22Mar

    We continue to fix the ills of generations past and heal our watershed.


    Your application titled Wetland-Prairie Restoration on South Branch Cascade Creek has been selected for partial funding through the FY2017 Round 2 Metro Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program. You’ve been awarded $198,800 in reimbursable grant funds. Please note that these funds will expire June 30, 2019. As indicated in your application, this timeline should fit your project. We had unprecedented demand for Metro funds this time around, so in order to fund more projects, we are granting unused dollars from previous years that will expire sooner.

    CPL staff will be contacting you over the next few days with instructions for meeting the grant contract requirements. A Grant Contract must be fully executed before any work can begin on your project. Any expenses incurred before the contract is executed will not be eligible for reimbursement. All paperwork will be completed using electronic signatures to expedite this process.

    Thank you for your dedication to preserving Minnesota’s natural resources. We look forward to working with you to complete your project!

    Jessica Lee

    CPL Program Coordinator | Division of Fish and Wildlife

    Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

    500 Lafayette Road, Box 20

    St. Paul, MN 55155

    Phone: 651-259-5233


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  • 13Sep

    Edit: Fixed Link

    This is certainly in my list of positions to support in 2017. Our EDF Fellow Matus Muron presents a tremendous case for funding an office of sustainability.

    EDF Fellow Report

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  • 14Jul

    The Rochester City Council will consider this piece of work on Monday. Thanks to all the people that poured a lot of energy and advocacy into this.

    Rochester Energy Action Plan

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  • 04Jun

    More good news for people that breath!

    Renewable-Based Fuel is Cleaner, Costs Less Than Traditional Diesel

    ROCHESTER, MINN. – June 2, 2016 – On June 1st, Rochester Public Transit (RPT) switched from the 10 percent biodiesel blend required statewide to a 20 percent blend, a move that will reduce emissions from 49 transit buses while saving money for the city. RPT officials said that the higher biodiesel content does not require the city to make major investments in vehicles or in fueling infrastructure. RPT has been using a lower percent biodiesel for a number of years. Under State law all diesel fuel will increase to 20% biodiesel beginning May 1, 2018. The decision was welcomed by the American Lung Association in Minnesota, which has long supported biodiesel as a clean air choice® for Minnesota motorists with diesel vehicles.

    “Using this higher biodiesel blend will have an immediate effect on the air pollutants these buses emit, reducing particulate matter, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions,” said Kelly Marczak, regional senior director for clean air at the American Lung Association in Minnesota. “It also represents another step away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, more sustainable fuels produced here in Minnesota.”

    Rochester’s bus fleet will use the B20 blend during warm months (through September), switching back to a five percent blend (B5) during the cold-weather months. This is consistent with a statewide law, the first of its kind in the United States, which requires a minimum 10 percent biodiesel blend in the warm weather months and B5 in the winter. The ALAMN noted in a recent analysis of biodiesel use in Minnesota that the state’s biodiesel standard has the same greenhouse gas emissions reduction benefits as removing 128,000 passenger vehicles from Minnesota’s roads each year. Using B20 in the summer months represents a 15% reduction in GHG emissions when compared to petroleum diesel. RPT stated that the use of biodiesel is consistent with its other efforts towards lower emissions and improved fuel conservation. While the cost of biodiesel fluctuates in the marketplace, RPT expects to achieve fuel savings of between two and five cents per gallon by using a 20% biodiesel blend.

    Biodiesel was the first biofuel designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an Advanced Biofuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent or more compared to petroleum diesel. Biodiesel has been approved for use as a vehicle fuel by the EPA and blends up to B20 can be used in any diesel engine without the need for any special modifications. The renewable fuel can be made from nearly any plant-based oil or animal fat. Most of the biodiesel used in the upper Midwest is made from excess soybean oil. Minnesota has three biodiesel plants in Albert Lea, Brewster and Isanti with a combined production capacity of approximately 63 million gallons. For more information, visit www.biodiesel.mn

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  • 03Jun

    I like this pilot program, hope to see more!

    Parks Policy

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  • 02Apr

    Should Rochester pass a “Pollinator Friendly” resolution?

    Recommended Pollinator Policy

    I sent a note to the Parks Department to see if they have any concerns about the language. The same note was sent to Stormwater Management as well.

    I also asked the City Administrator to poll the council and see if there were 4 council members opposed. If not assuming the language is appropriate for Rochester AND I have a 2nd, we can bring this up for a vote.

    Let me know what you think of the attached policy!

    I personally manage my land in this way and actually treat much of my stormwater on site with a pollinator friendly rain garden!

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  • 17Sep

    This is hands down the most important planning activity for the future of Rochester. The consultants leading the project described this as the best and most thorough planning effort they had ever been involved with. They expect that this will be an award winning project. Here is the update we received.

    P2S Update Document

    In general we are studying 3 scenarios:

    1. Continued suburban sprawl
    2. Significant infill along major corridors and nodes
    3. Major high density nodes south of downtown & near IBM.

    What is different about this study is that we are seriously looking at the consequences of our decision. Today a few council members simultaneously can’t fund the costs associated with sprawl and deny sprawl is a problem. In considering these scenarios we will also consider.

    1. Our ability to deliver services including transit
    2. Cost of land development in different areas
    3. Financial impacts on the budget, especially public infrastructure
    4. Impacts on energy and environment.

    My hope is that when present with the likely data, 4 council members will vote to end the sprawl.

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  • 03May

    Here is information on how district hauling benefited Maplewood MN.


    Hello Councilmember Wojcik:

    The City of Maplewood previously had an open hauling residential trash system with nine licensed haulers and an organized recycling system with one contracted hauler city-wide. In 2011 the City of Maplewood conducted a solid waste management study to create more efficiencies in our trash hauling system. The study was conducted under the old Solid Waste Management Statute which required cities at that time to hold a public hearing just to begin the study (adopt a resolution of intent to organize), then carry out a 90 day planning period, 90 day negotiation period, and finally adopt official findings for organizing trash hauling prior to approving the new system. The process was very controversial, particularly because of the Solid Waste Management Statute that created an adversarial, rather than collaborative, environment with the haulers. After the required planning, negotiation, and findings, the City Council approved an organized trash system with one hauler contracted to collect trash throughout the city. The City of Maplewood was the first city in 20 years to organize trash hauling under the old statute. Because of Maplewood’s experience, the State Legislature revised the Solid Waste Management Statute in 2013 to create a more fair system allowing cities to study and organize their solid waste management systems. Since that time, the City of Saint Anthony Park is the first city to organize their trash hauling under the new statute. With the new statute they did not have to hold a public hearing just to begin the process. They simply sat down with all four haulers in the city and began to discuss how to create a more efficient system. Their new system has each existing hauler maintaining their household count, but divides the city into four areas where each hauler collects trash. While Maplewood’s story is interesting, how we got here will not be the same for other cities that follow. Our system, however, is something to study and consider for other cities.

    During our planning process one of our Councilmembers at the time (John Nephew) did a study on trash hauling rates. He asked residents to forward their actual trash hauling bills to him for review. In Maplewood haulers were required to report their rates to the city, but we found that those were not the rates that they were actually charging a majority of our residents. Based on the reported and actual rates, compared to the rates approved in the contract with Republic Services (with service beginning October 2012), our residents are saving $1 million per year on reported rates, and $1.6 million per year on actual rates. On average, residents are now saving 50 to 75 percent from their previous open hauling trash bill.

    The Maplewood Environmental and Natural Resources Commission studied the trash hauling system and made the recommendation to organize our system to the City Council. During the Environmental Commission’s review, their main goals were environmentally related (reducing emissions, reducing pollution, better management of trash, impacts to roads, etc.). Once it got to the City Council, however, their top goal was economics, ensuring that any new system saved the tax payers money. During the planning process, the Minnesota Department of Transportation was conducting a study on effects of heavy vehicles on local roads. The study is now complete and there is a tool for local governments to use to determine impacts of multiple heavy vehicles (trash hauling trucks, the heaviest vehicle on our local roads) has on the local roadways. Here is a link to the study: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/research/TS/2014/201432.pdf.

    In summary, the City’s new trash hauling system is running smoothly with prices remaining low. We have not officially conducted a study on the before and after, but do see the positive results in less vehicle traffic on our roads, all residential trash going to the RRT facility for processing, low trash hauling rates for our customers, and the ability to better manage our solid waste. For more information on the City’s system visit our trash hauling webpage at www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/trash.

    The League of Minnesota Cities’ annual conference in Duluth on June 24 through 26 will have a session on organizing solid waste in cities. Several cities that have implemented organized collection will share their experience of what worked well and experts in the field will discuss actions other cities can take to begin the process.

    Good luck and let me know if you have additional questions.

    Shann Finwall, AICP
    Environmental Planner

    Read more…

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