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Afton effort aims to diminish 'false hopes'

Afton is hoping to keep a better line of communication open between its residents and its officials.

Afton City Council and Afton Planning Commission held a joint work session on April 7 to discuss potential goals for 2014.

One of the areas discussed by council members and commissioners was keeping the lines of communication open between the two different bodies in order to prevent items from bouncing back and forth.

One of the examples that council members and commissioners cited was the proposed agri-tourism and commercial wedding venue ordinances, which bounced between the two bodies for nearly a year.

“We took a long time telling the wedding venue applicant that they couldn’t have a wedding venue,” Commissioner Mark Nelson said. “In retrospect, I think we could have gotten to the point a little quicker.

“We changed the direction, and that needs to be able to happen, but we could get to the crux sooner.”

In addition to communicating better with each other, City Council and Planning Commission members said communicating better with residents should also be a priority.

Relating to the commercial wedding venue discussion once again, Nelson and Council Member Joe Richter suggested that the city, both staff and officials, should better communicate with residents that discussions could be long and may not get the outcome that residents desire.

In relation to the commercial wedding venue, Clare and Tom Hoelderle had initiated the discussion with a proposal to open the business.

The Hoelderles expressed their urgency to move along because they had already made investments into the endeavor.

“Maybe we should be more negative in the beginning,” Richter said. “It’s probably not going to go through, but you have the right to ask for it.”

Mayor Dick Bend agreed.

“Anytime we have someone that has false hopes raised, it can be very damageable to an individual if they gamble too much,” he said. “Anytime that someone wants something to happen that requires a change, it’s a big gamble.”

Additionally, Nelson said the city should better articulate to applicants why something is being denied, so that they don’t come back with questions or try to reapply.

“We need to make it clear, even to the people that aren’t asking, when something is turned down why they’re being turned down,” Nelson said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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