Bus barn blight

Late last month the Snelling Hamline Community Council sent a letter to the City of St. Paul regarding a blighted property in the Midway neighborhood. The piece of property includes a billboard and the community council argues that it's in violation of the city's sign ordinance. The applicable statute reads: "Lots on which signs are located shall be kept neat, orderly and free of debris."

As described in the letter the lot doesn't quite meet this mandate. The community council complains that the property is covered with trash and enclosed by a rusting, dented fence. "It is a blight in the neighborhood and a disgrace to the city," the letter concludes.

Such petty neighborhood property disputes wouldn't be of much interest if not for the owner of this particular piece of land: the Metropolitan Council. The property in question is the former bus barn site at the intersection of Snelling and St. Anthony Avenues. Over the years there have been numerous possible tenants discussed for the long-vacant land, including Home Depot, Allina Hospitals & Clinics, and Green Tree Financial. Most recently talk has centered on placing a Best Buy and a Lowe's on the lot.

In the meantime neighbors just want to see the property maintained. Under the city's sign ordinance, billboards deemed "unsightly" must be repaired or removed. Undoubtedly, the community council would prefer the latter option.