Eagan is the first suburb to allow rented goat grazing as a means to curb buckthorn and other invasive species, according to city documents.

Increasingly, individuals, businesses and government agencies are using goats as a noninvasive, “green” alternative to pesticides because the animals enjoy chomping on various hard-to-manage plants, from buckthorn to garlic mustard.

The city amended its ordinances Nov. 6 to enable “prescriptive grazing” with an administrative permit. Permits are $50 and permit renewals are $25.

Residents can have two goats per one-tenth acre of property on half-acre lots or larger. A fence or enclosure is required and the goat owner must provide liability insurance.

Eagan received many letters about the idea, nearly all supportive.

“Rather than letting the buckthorn get our goats, we should let goats eat the buckthorn,” said resident Lori Terwilliger.

Kirsten Loiseaux-Purcell wrote, “Our neighbors used goats for their buckthorn removal and we found the goats to be calm and gentle animals.”

One resident, however, said he opposed goat grazing. Chris Mocol said he awoke one morning to find a goat pounding on his basement window, trying to break in. He noticed four other goats in his yard. A police officer came and shooed the goats off Mocol’s property and down the street.

“All four goats had horns and appeared aggressive to me, especially when they were trying to break into my house,” Mocol wrote in an e-mail. He called the ordinance amendment “ridiculous.”

Even so, the measure passed unanimously.

Erin Adler

Dakota County

Cochran House to stay open through May 31

Cochran House, a 32-bed Hastings shelter for homeless men, will remain open until May 31 rather than shuttering Dec. 1 as previously planned.

The Dakota County Board agreed to pitch in $70,000 at its Nov. 14 meeting, providing more time for the county to switch to another provider and location. Cochran House, the county’s only men’s shelter, recently announced that financial woes meant the shelter would have to close.

The shelter has a contract with the county and receives funding through Housing Support funds, but that money wasn’t enough to keep the place running. One major expense is food, which must be prepared and brought in because the shelter has no kitchen.

Dakota County will fund the extension with $30,000 from county levy money and up to $40,000 in unspent Community Development Block Grant funds from its Community Development Agency.

Erin Adler

Shakopee

Bid approved for City Hall demolition

The City Council has awarded a $191,800 contract to Frattalone Cos. for the abatement, demolition and earthwork required to remove the former City Hall structure at 129 Holmes St. Demolition is expected to be completed by January.

The 1960s-era building, dubbed structurally deficient in September, is full of asbestos. City staffers relocated their offices to the $8.5 million modern campus on Gorman Street in August.

During abatement and construction, the parking lot east of the building will remain closed to stored equipment. The surface lot’s condition will be reevaluated by officials after the project is completed. A temporary sidewalk may be created if conditions allow.

Shakopee is seeking proposals to redevelop the 0.7-acre plot, along with a 1.2-acre riverfront site, which consists of four parcels at Scott Street North and First Avenue West. Officials held a question-and-answer session for interested firms Friday.

Michael Kerski, director of planning and development, said during a recent council meeting that local and national developers have expressed interest in the property.

Minneapolis-based CPM Cos. previously entered into an agreement with the city to buy and demolish the old City Hall and replace it with a 70-unit, market-rate apartment complex geared toward young professionals. A few blocks away, the developer also sought to build a 110-room hotel along the Minnesota River.

The $24 million project was touted by some city officials as a “transformative” effort to help attract tourism to the region and stimulate growth.

That deal abruptly fell through in September when CPM pulled the plug. At the time, City Administrator Bill Reynolds cited “political issues” on the City Council and “bad press” as the developer’s primary reasons for walking away. CPM said it simply couldn’t make the project financing work.

Yet, before the project was scrapped, Kerski sent an Aug. 1 e-mail to Mayor Bill Mars warning him that CPM was growing skittish.

“They are petrified of all the crazy news they have seen and they will want some comfort level that they are not about to make a $25 million investment in a community that doesn’t want development,” Kerski wrote. “I have told them that’s not the case but a little reinforcement will go a long way.”

Liz Sawyer

Prior Lake

County Road 83 construction comes to close

County Road 83 reopened to traffic recently after more than two years of construction.

The $30 million road project, funded primarily by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, sought to improve safety and ease congestion near Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino. Roadwork also expanded the two-lane street to a four-lane divided roadway and created two new exit ramps.

Scott County contributed $950,000 to the project.

“A project of this size takes the expertise and dedication of so many people,” said Charles R. Vig, chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. “Thanks to their hard work over the past year and everyone’s patience during construction, the thousands of people who use this road each day will have a better experience.”

Liz Sawyer