City Council postpones senior housing vote

EAGAN, MN – The Eagan City Council this week postponed a vote on a proposal to build 173 units of senior housing near Yankee Doodle Road to allow for development of public park space on the lot.
   The city council expressed concern that the Discovery Road property, as developed by Skyline Graphics, did not include enough public space on one of the busiest pedestrian areas in the city. The council tabled the matter until Oct. 16. The council originally discussed postponing the matter until November, but moved up the date after developers expressed concern about such a delay’s impact on the proposed sale of the real estate.
   Building the proposed senior housing development would require a series of votes from the city council, including a change in zoning from business park to high-density residential. City councilors said at their meeting Monday night they would like to see something like a “pocket park,” a small park with benches and, possibly, public art, in the spot.

Eagan taxpayers get new 20-year mortgage

   The Eagan City Council approved the sale of about $22.3 million in bonds this week to finance extensive renovations at city hall and police headquarters and to buy new firefighting equipment.
   The sale of bonds, at about 3.5 percent interest, will extend the city’s debt for another 20 years. About $1 million of the funding will pay for new firefighting equipment, including two new ladder trucks. The rest will pay for the expansion of city offices, police headquarters, and the public works facility.

City Council member plays with The Vikings

Aging homeowners in Eagan face extra cost

EAGAN, MN --  In a decision that could have implications for homeowners seeking to renovate aging properties in the city, the Eagan City Council rejected an appeal of a city decision requiring property to be platted before building permits will be issued.
   A local homeowner requested the council waive the requirement property owners record drawings of their lots with boundaries before issuing a building permit. The city’s requirement would add an additional $8,000 to renovations to the home, according to comments made at a hearing. The city council refused.
   The requirement has affected long-time Eagan homeowners trying to renovate their homes with additions, such as bedrooms on the ground floor, that allow homeowners to “age in place” without having to move to new homes. The city is detecting more homes that have not been platted because of new software that triggers a notification when the owner of a property that has not been platted applies for a building permit.
Eagan City Council member Gary Hansen, who is up for reelection, posted on social media about a special perk from the Vikings Friday. The city council Tuesday unanimously voted to approve  a request that will further plans for a 14-story, 320-room hotel at the northeast Eagan Vikings' headquarters site.

Police tase suspect during local arrest

   EAGAN, MN – A Coon Rapids man is facing criminal charges after being tased into compliance by police.
   Andrew Wilson, 30, of 1499 119th Lane N.W., Coon Rapids, was charged with fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance and giving false information to police, both gross misdemeanors, and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing legal process, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. The charges stem from a Sept. 21 confrontation with Eagan police, according to court records.
   Police encountered Wilson after spotting a van in the parking lot of a local business. When police checked the plate number of the van, they discovered police had contact with two people living in the van about a month before, according to court records. Both suspects had warrants for their arrest, according to police.
   Police tried to stop Wilson as he was returning to the van, according to the complaint. Wilson reportedly objected to being detained by police and allegedly refused to answer police questions after allegedly providing false identification information to police.
   After other police officers arrived, according to police, “one officer removed her Taser and informed Wilson that he was under arrest. Wilson refused to comply with the officers’ commands to get on the ground. When officers got Wilson on the ground, he refused to put his hands behind his back. The officer had to deploy the Taser to gain Wilson’s compliance.”
   Taser is the brand name of an electroshock weapon.
   Police then handcuffed and searched Wilson, according to the criminal complaint. Police allegedly found a syringe in Wilson’s pocket and .16 grams of a white crystal substance believed to be methamphetamine inside a backpack.

District 196 predicts $25 million deficit and increased enrollment

ROSEMOUNT -- What was billed as a financial presentation quickly turned political as a District 196 school board member suggested the district’s deficit spending could be reversed through voters’ choice for state legislators.
   “The public has a role as we head to general elections in November,” school board treasurer Art Coulson said. “We need to ask the politicians ‘What are you going to do?’”
   The comments coincided with a state candidate’s mailing to Eagan households this week about education funding.
   The school district is projecting increasing deficits that could reach almost $25 million by the 2021-2022 school year. The district's current budget is about $495 million, which includes about $20 million in debt service, according to the 2018-19 preliminary budget book.
   “Over the course of the next three years, we’re looking at a cumulative budget adjustment of about $25 million,” Jeff Solomon, District 196 Finance and Operations Director said. The adjustments would require either “expense reductions,” commonly referred to as budget cuts, or increased revenue, which could mean higher property taxes and fees.
   School administrators placed the blame for projected deficits on insufficient state funding, the district’s largest source of revenue, combined with increasing enrollment, expected to top the previous peak of 28,500 students.
   There was no mention of during the discussion spending over the last two years on pay raises and bonuses for district staff, administrators, and school board members, who gave themselves a raise of about 40 percent. Nor was there mention of massive capital expenditures on new schools and renovations, designer furniture replacing student desks and chairs, capital budgets that included $1,200 refrigerators for a teachers’ lounge, and a $6 million speculative purchase on land the district isn’t even sure it wants to build a school on.
   Solomon attributed $28 million of district spending to unfunded special education mandates and about $18 million to the state funding formula’s failure to keep pace with inflation. District is assuming, for financial projections, state will continue to provide two percent annual inflation increases.
   Solomon urged administrators to start seeking support for more building funds. The district is planning a work group to plan for another bond referendum, asking voters to approve more borrowing for school facilities.
   To maintain class sizes, the district is planning to increase staff as enrollment grows. The district has been spending part of its budget to market itself to families from other districts seeking open enrollment and additional funds to provide services to families. There was no discussion of reducing open enrollment or auxiliary services.

Fries with that? Minneapolis man accused of taking construction site tools to go

EAGAN, MN --   A Minneapolis man is facing felony burglary and drug charges stemming from the theft of tools from a McDonald’s restaurant on Silver Bell Road.
   Joseph Hoberg, 23, of 3940 25th Ave. S., Minneapolis, was charged with third-degree burglary and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance following a police foot chase and his arrest near the Eagan outlet mall, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.
   Eagan police were dispatched to McDonald’s restaurant on Silver Bell Road shortly after 4 p.m. on Sept. 20 for a report of the theft of construction tools from the site, which was being renovated. The dining room of the restaurant was closed for remodeling, but the drive-thru was open.
   A witness later told police she and Hoberg had gone through the drive-thru of the restaurant and Hoberg went inside the building after they discovered a problem with their order. The construction foreman told police he saw a man, whom he originally thought was part of the construction crew, walking out of the building with a bag of tools, according to court records. The foreman saw the man get into a car and leave.
   Police stopped the suspect car near the outlet mall. Police reported Hoberg, the owner of the car, was initially compliant but, when he got out of his car at the traffic stop, he removed an item from his front pocket, threw it toward the mall’s parking garage and ran from police. Police caught up to Hoberg and arrested him.
   Police allegedly found several bags of what appeared to be methamphetamine and a crystal shard of the suspected drug in the street. Police searched Hoberg’s car and allegedly found tools in the trunk and a bubble pipe commonly used to smoke meth.
   Police reported finding a plastic bag beneath the passenger seat of the car containing a crystalline rock, suspected to be methamphetamine, weighing .38 grams. 

APC approves Vikings hotel subdivision

EAGAN, MN -- Another phase of the proposal to build a 14-story, 320-room hotel at Viking Lakes easily cleared a hurdle this week as the city’s Advisory Planning Commission approved a request related to the proposal.
   The commission approved a request to subdivide 35 acres of land at the site to create two lots and an outlot. The area is currently covered with gravel and was used as parking for Vikings’ training camp.
   The request was one of three approved unanimously by the commission in less than 30 minutes at its Sept. 25 meeting. The requests came from a wide variety of organizations doing business in Eagan, from a professional football team to a concrete supply company to a business selling used cars on the internet.  
   The planning commission also approved a conditional use permit allowing outdoor storage of concrete materials at Cemstone Contractor Supply at 1090 Gemini Road. A third approval will allow the online retailer Carvana, at 3321 Mike Collins Drive, to store 4 multi-car haulers, 4 single-car haulers, and 52 vehicles outdoors. The business does not sell cars at the Eagandale Center Industrial Park site.

Eagan woman charged with felony welfare theft

   An Eagan woman is facing a felony charge for allegedly failing to report she was living with the father of her child while collecting welfare benefits.
   Hana Mekonnen, 1150 Town Centre Drive #15, Eagan, has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County District Court Oct. 22 to answer to a felony charge of theft, according to court documents. Mekonnen is accused of wrongfully collecting more than $2,200 in public benefits between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015, according to a criminal complaint. Mekonnen received welfare benefits through Dakota County from Jan. 2015 to July 2018, according to the complaint.
   Welfare recipients are required to report all household and family members, including the parents of their children. Investigators allege Mekonnen failed to report the father of her child as a member of her household. The failure to report was allegedly discovered when an alert was triggered by a federally mandated child support database, PRISM, showing the child’s father had listed the same address as Mekonnen.

Apple Valley man charged with Eagan drug sale

   An Apple Valley man revived by first responders using Narcan last June has been charged with a felony drug sale.
   Liam Cahill, 19, of 14788 Hallmark Drive, Apple Valley, has been charged with fifth-degree sale of a controlled substance, according to a criminal complaint. The charge stems from a call to Eagan police on June 27 reporting a person “passed out on the front steps” of a home in Eagan.
   When police arrived at the home, they found two males sleeping on the porch, according to court records. Because police could not wake the two men, they searched a purse draped over Cahill’s shoulder “in an attempt to determine what was wrong,” according to the complaint.
   Inside the purse, police found a plastic bag full of 130 pills identified as alprazolam, known under the brand name Xanax, $11,500 cash and a supply of plastic bags typically used to package controlled substances, according to court records. Officers administered Narcan, used in cases of suspected opioid overdose, to wake the men, according to the criminal complaint.

Man charged with striking car with baseball bat

EAGAN, MN -- An Eagan man is facing a felony charge for allegedly hitting a woman’s car with a baseball bat during an apparent episode of off-road rage.
   Clayton Baultrippe, 61, of 1385 High Site Drive, Eagan, has been charged with first-degree criminal damage to property, a felony, and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. The charges stem from an episode in the parking lot of an unnamed Eagan business on Aug. 25. Police were called to the business parking lot for a report of a man threatening a woman with a baseball bat.
   A witness reported he was leaving the store when he saw a man screaming at a woman parked in front of the store. The man allegedly screamed at the woman for driving recklessly in the parking lot, claimed he worked for police, and said he would get a bat. He then allegedly walked to the back of the truck he was driving, grabbed a bat, walked back to the woman’s car and swung the bat. The suspect then got into his truck and drove away, according to court records.
   Police traced the license plate to Baultrippe, according to the complaint.
   The victim told police she had honked at a truck blocking traffic in the parking lot, then drove around it to get to a store. When she parked, the victim told police, Baultrippe allegedly pulled his truck around, got out of the truck, and began to yell at her through her open driver’s side window. The victim said he then got a bat and hit her car with it. The man returned to his truck and drove away when she told him she was calling 911, according to court records.
   Damage to the victim’s car was estimated to be more than $1,200.