Fire Chief Scott praised by colleagues

EAGAN, MN – Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott has been named Officer of the Year by the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association.
   Chief Scott, in his thirteenth year as head of the Eagan department, was recognized for his “innovative leadership,” which has included leading the department through a transition from a volunteer force to a department with full-time professional staff.
 “Mike has a high level of knowledge and respect from his fellow fire chiefs in the state and, frankly, the upper Midwest,” City Administrator Dave Osberg said, during a presentation to the Eagan City Council.
   Chief Scott told city council members it was “very humbling” to be selected as officer of the year. “I really look at this as an award for our city and our team,” Chief Scott said.
   Chief Scott, who signed up as a volunteer firefighter the day he turned 18, remembers the day in the 1970s that changed his life—the day fire trucks showed up in his neighborhood. The department then recruited his father to be a volunteer and the now-chief would “bug him every day” to take him to the fire department.
   “That day changed my life,” Chief Scott said. “This is my dream job.”
   Chief Scott was formally recognized by state firefighters at their Oct. 12 conference.
   Chief Scott is the second Eagan city leader recently recognized by peers across the state. City Administrator Dave Osberg was similarly recognized by the state’s city administrators earlier this year.
Eagan City Administrator Dave Osberg shows city council members the Fire Officer of the Year award given to Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott.

City council approves high-density apartments

EAGAN, MN -- In a brief, pre-Thanksgiving meeting, the Eagan City Council unanimously approved a private developer’s plan to build a four-story, high-density, 50-unit apartment building with lower rents intended for the general workforce.
   In a speech after the votes of approval, Mayor Mike Maguire said that the city must rely on private developers to help it reach affordable housing goals.
   The 50 apartments, called Lexington Flats, would provide about 10 percent of the 472 units of affordable housing the Metropolitan Council said, in an October 2017 report, Eagan needs. While the city council has speedily approved requests related to the clearing of 220 acres of land in northeast Eagan to construct a football field and luxury apartment complex, the proposal to build 50 lower-priced apartments on 1.26 acres of otherwise unsold land at the intersection of Lone Oak Road and Lexington Avenue divided the city council.
   The project segregates Eagan’s limited workforce-affordable housing from the city’s wealthier neighborhoods, including those where city council members live. To get to the nearest park, Lexington Park, children living in the apartment building will have to cross a busy street used by industrial traffic and walk through a neighborhood that was the site of one of the largest known shipments of methamphetamine in Minnesota’s history.
   The approval followed a two-week continuance to allow time for more documentation of the private developer’s intent to qualify 100 percent of the units as affordable housing for 30 years. After a dispute erupted at the council’s Nov. 5 meeting, the council postponed a vote on a zoning change and other issues related to the development site until after Election Day, when two incumbent city council members, who had faced a challenger, were re-elected.
   Discussion of the issue at the council’s Nov. 5 meeting prompted an exchange between City Council Member Paul Bakken and Mayor Mike Maguire over what Bakken characterized as an attempt to push the issue through by requesting a memo from the city attorney about the number of votes that would be needed for approval. Bakken called the handling of the issue “tremendously disrespectful” to members of the city council.
   “I’m voting in favor of this proposal because I’m finally convinced that it’s going to work,” Bakken said.  “That doesn’t mean I’m not irritated and will continue to be irritated by my colleague and what he’s trying to pull, ” Bakken continued. “That’s stuff we’re going to deal with on our own time. That should not affect the applicant.”
   Bakken did not name the specific colleague to whom he was referring, but Mayor Mike Maguire responded angrily. “I don’t know that I’ve been particularly active on anything in the past two weeks. I’ve been in the hospital.”
   “Who asked for the memo?” Bakken shot back.
   “I did not,” the Mayor replied.
   City Administrator Dave Osberg then interjected, informing the council that he had asked for the memo from the city attorney because of uncertainty, among city staff preparing for the council meeting, of the requirements for a change in the city’s comprehensive guide plan.
   Bakken replied he owed the mayor an apology. The Mayor agreed, and disagreed with the characterization the issue was being “pushed through.”

Hotel parking lot request doesn't fly

EAGAN, MN – The Advisory Planning Commission unanimously voted to deny a permit request for the Country Inn and Suites hotel to operate a park-and-fly lot at 2900 Lone Oak Parkway.
   In denying the application on Nov. 27, the commission expressed concern about the precedent in allowing a city hotel to operate a park-and-fly lot off-site, away from the site of its hotel.
   The city had previously approved a planned development amendment that would have allowed the hotel to expand adding 55 rooms and a restaurant. The hotel notified the city in August it would not be going forward with the expansion. Country Inn is the closest hotel to the Minnesota Vikings facility. Vikings’ owners recently received approval from the city to build their own, larger, hotel.
   The Eagan City Council is expected to discuss the request denied by the planning commission at its Dec. 4 meeting.  
   In other business, the commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for Mark’s Towing, 3659 Kennebec Drive, to allow outdoor storage of vehicles that have been impounded or involved in collisions. The law requires the company keep the vehicles for 90 days, which created a need for additional storage. 

Man charged after armed men threaten home

HASTINGS, MN – A Hastings man is facing felony charges after he and a group of armed men allegedly terrorized a mother locked in her house with five children, ran a man off the road, and sent a threatening text message in an apparent dispute over missing cocaine.
   Gregory Brannon, 42, of 1168 Sherman Way, Hastings, was charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and threats of violence in connection with the Nov. 9 episode.
   A man living at the house had left the family while he investigated a car full of men parked across the street from the house. The episode was originally reported to police as a road rage incident after the car full of suspects allegedly ran the man off the road, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   While police were investigating the road rage report on Fourth Street shortly before 5:45 p.m. Nov. 9, a 911 caller reported men outside her house brandishing firearms. Police went to the Ninth Street home to find a woman shaking in fear with five children in the house, according to court records.
   The victims told police they were inside the house when a car drove slowly by the house several times. The male victim left the house to investigate, taking his car to drive past the car containing several people. The car parked on the street then began following the victim’s car, eventually running him off the road, according to court records. The car then drove off.
   The suspect car then allegedly returned to the victims’ house. A group of children in a car outside waiting for a friend said one of the men told them “you should not be here.”
  The woman in the house saw four men get out of the car and pull rifles from their sweatpants as they approached the house. One of the men tried to enter a side door, according to police, another tried to enter through the back. Both ran off at the sound of police sirens approaching the house.
   Later that evening, according to the criminal complaint, the male victim and Brannon exchanged text messages. “Brannon explained via text that there was cocaine missing and they want it back or someone is going to get ‘wacked,’” according to court records. “Brannon explained that he needs to protect his girls. Brannon stated he doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as it is not mine, these guys are out for blood.”

Eagan shoplifting sprees continue

   EAGAN, MN – In another apparent case of shoplifting rings at work in Eagan, police arrested two people after store security reported them stuffing merchandise into their clothing.
   Kenya Marie Radcliffe-Alexander, 27, of 899 Edgerton St., St. Paul, was charged with felony theft in connection with a Nov. 14 report of shoplifting at a local mall, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. Investigators allege Radcliffe-Alexander was one of three people who concealed merchandise beneath their clothing as store security watched, then left the store without paying for the items. A second member of the alleged group, Darcy Lewis, 29, of 4742 Dupont Ave. N., Minneapolis, was also charged with a single count of felony theft.
   The third suspect gave a statement to police that she had gone to the store with her brother and sister after another man told her “he would pay for her son’s ticket to Indiana if she got him some clothing from the store,” according to a criminal complaint.
   Radcliffe-Alexander was previously charged for a similar theft last May, as she allegedly worked with a team four other women removing merchandise from a store at the Eagan outlet mall, according to a criminal complaint. She has a record that includes more than 40 theft, motor vehicle, assault, littering, and other charges, according to court records.
            In another recent case, a Minneapolis man was charged with felony theft after Eagan police allegedly discovered merchandise and burglary tools in his car as he drove away from a local mall after a store employee reported shoplifting.
   Benjamin Hunter, 49, of 3024 31st Ave. S., Minneapolis, was charged with two felonies: possession of burglary tools and theft over $500; and a gross misdemeanor, providing false information to police, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   Eagan police were called to an unspecified shopping center at about 6:15 p.m. Nov. 10 after a security alarm sounded at the store. Police found a car fitting a witness’s description on Nichols Road near Silver Bell Road. The car was stopped after police detected what appeared to be a false inspection sticker on the car.
   During a search of the car, police allegedly found a bag containing about $1,000 worth of clothes with security sensors attached. Police also allegedly found a tool to remove security sensors.