Property owners along Penn not obligated to pay for street lights

PENN AVENUE — Property owners along Penn Avenue do not need to pay an extra $600,000 for ornamental lighting along the reconstructed street, ruled city committees in recent weeks.

Sixty-three percent of the impacted landowners had petitioned against the extra fees by the city’s deadline — 70 percent is the threshold for killing the lighting project — but by Jan. 18, 70.4 percent of landowners had joined the petition.

“Our belief is that pedestrian-level lighting improves safety. It also helps create a sense of place,” said Matt Perry, president of the Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association. “However, given the way pedestrian-level lighting is funded currently, it results in a direct hit to those businesses. It’s up to them whether they can fully accommodate [the cost].”

The multi-year reconstruction of Penn will stretch from Highway 62 to a point 100 feet north of 54th Street. 

Perry said businesses are working on several strategies to prepare for the construction. The city has agreed to stage the construction carefully: Crews will keep the road in front of Wagner’s Garden Center clear during its peak season, for example. And the city is planning to use blue way-finding signage that point to businesses, so the signs don’t get lost in orange signage. The website will provide construction updates and detour maps throughout the project.