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Minneapolis getting ready to ban use of coal-tar-based sealers

It would join 20 other Minnesota cities that have banned coal-tar sealers.

Minneapolis property owners who had been planning to coat their driveways with coal-tar-based sealer might need to act sooner, rather than later.

A ban on those sealers was approved unanimously Monday by the City Council’s Regulatory, Energy and Environmental Committee. The full council is expected to take the same action a week from Friday.

“This is some obnoxious stuff that isn’t necessary,” said Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy, who is sponsoring the ordinance. The ban does not extend to asphalt-based sealers.

Sealers are applied to driveways, parking lots and some playgrounds to give them a clean new surface.  Minneapolis would join 20 other Minnesota cities that have banned coal-tar sealers. Lowe’s and Home Depot no longer sell the product.

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Coal-tar sealers are produced by burning coal to produce pitch, which can cause birth defects for aquatic life and cancer in humans according to a presentation by the city’s Regulatory Services staff.

The ordinance does not ban the sale of coal-tar sealer in Minneapolis but does prohibit its use in the city. The state of Minnesota no longer allows the use of coal-tar sealers on state-owned property.

Toppers hours restricted

There will be no extended walk-in hours for Toppers, but if you need a pizza after the pizza franchise closes its doors at 10 p.m., employees will deliver until 3 a.m.

The Toppers at 5447 Nicollet Ave. S. applied to keep the walk-in portion of the business open until 3 a.m. seven days a week. They are currently open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The neighbors are not happy.

“We have basically been driven out of our back yard by flies,” said Dave Evans, who lives behind Toppers. The flies are drawn to the trash that is also behind Toppers.  Evans presented a petition with 37 signatures from neighborhood residents suggesting the extended business hours apply only to pizza delivery and not to walk-in customers.

Derek Henze, the franchise holder, said he was seeking the extended hours to match the hours of other area pizza places.

But Evans cited “urinating, vomiting and trash” as behavior that is not acceptable.  He also noted that Henze has no control over alcohol use by customers before they arrive at Toppers or how they behave while waiting for their pizza.

The committee voted against allowing walk-in traffic until 3 a.m. but approved the later delivery service. It also approved a list of restrictions for delivery vehicles and parking.

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Jimmy John’s late nights delayed

Jimmy John’s, at 14 University Ave. NE., also applied for extended hours and a sidewalk café, if you call two tables and four chairs a café.

The neighbors liked the option to eat their subs on the sidewalk but were not happy with the idea of Jimmy John’s staying open until 2 a.m. on Thursdays and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Other Jimmy John’s in Minneapolis are open until 2 or 3 a.m., apparently without problems, but the neighbors were concerned that the shop might attract customers from downtown after the bars close.

Mike Miklin, the franchise owner, suggested the committee delay action for a few weeks to see if they can work out a plan that will get the approval of the neighbors. The committee agreed to a delay.

Tilia adding outdoor tables

These neighbors are not happy, either. Tilia restaurant, at 2726 W. 43rd St., won approval to add 10 outdoor tables and 30 chairs on private property east of its building.

Claudia Dengler, who said she has lived in the area for 21 years, said air quality was a “chronic issue,” and “there’s not much follow through by the city” to complaints. She also cited parking and noise problems.

Committee Chair Elizabeth Glidden said the issues raised by Dengler might be valid but were not relevant to the outdoor patio and suggested she meet with city inspectors, who were in the council chambers, to express her complaints.

The committee approved the Tilia outdoor patio.

Peddlers with Photo IDs

Solicitors, peddlers and transient merchants will be required to wear or display a city-issued photo identification card under the terms of a revised ordinance. Those workers are currently licensed by the city but are not required to display the license.

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The changes are aimed at magazine solicitors who are often young people trucked from city to city to sell publications door-to-door.

“It’s not often that this committee, or any committee, gets to take a stand against exploitation of youth,” said Council Member Gary Schiff, who, along with Colvin Roy, is sponsoring the new ordinance, which won committee approval on a voice vote.

Remember Ron Folger?

Last fall, then-landlord Ron Folger lost his rental licenses for 19 properties after two of his licenses were revoked in one calendar year. Once the license is lost, the landlord cannot be re-licensed for five years. 

One license was revoked for failing to submit a written management plan after disorderly use by a tenant involving narcotics.  Another was for failure to allow a city inspector onto a property.

Now he’s lost another license. The city originally missed one of Folger’s rentals, but staff since has found records for that property and took away that license, too.