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Dakota County Board: Grant plan discussed, road project pushed back

The Dakota County Government Center. RiverTown Multimedia file photo

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners discussed federal grant funding and urged the county's engineers to take another look at an upcoming road project that slices through some farmland at its board meeting on Tuesday.

The road project would reconstruct 240th Street to a two-lane highway from Highway 3 to Blaine Avenue, near Castle Rock Township, and connect it to 245th Street. The project has been drawn out in efforts to minimize the alignment's effects on farmland in the area.

County staff briefed the board on an action plan for federal funding for the Community Development Block Grant, a funding program for local development; the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a funding program for housing assistance; and the Emergency Solutions Grant, funding for homeless people or near homeless people in immediate need of housing.

240th Street reconstruction

Approval of alignment for a construction project for County Road 78 in Castle Rock Township from Trunk Highway 3 to County Road 79 was pushed back after commissioners discussed the construction's effects on farmland in the area.

Commissioner Mike Slavik said at the meeting that the road project has been difficult to move forward with, due to the ways that the design plans would affect farmland. County engineers designed multiple alignments for the project, before recommending the current east alignment for having the lowest impact on farmland and other factors.

"No matter what option was picked, someone was going to be impacted and pained by this," Slavik said.

Mark Wagenkecht, an affected property owner, spoke to commissioners and said that he believed there were other ways to approach the project. At times, Wagenkecht spoke passionately in defending his land that he said his family has lived on for 53 years.

"I believe there's other ways to do this with less destruction to our farm," Wagenkecht said at the meeting. "I've stayed there because I love it, it is me ... you guys got to understand, I haven't had a chance in my life to invest in a 401k, this land is my investment."

The board voted to move the alignment approval to its May 7 meeting and asked that county engineers look at ways to improve on the current proposal.

Grant funding plan

Dakota County is receiving about $1.89 million in CDBG funding, down by 2.8% from last year, said Maggie Dykes, an assistant director at the Dakota County Community Development Agency.

Of that funding, $72,138 is planned for Hastings — $35,038 of that goes to home improvement loans — and Burnsville receives the most of the county's communities, at $261,504.

The county received $958,619 in the HOME Consortium funding, down 8.6% from last year, and almost $165,000 in the Emergency Solutions Grant, up 2.8% from last year. The HOME funding is mostly devoted to the preservation of Prairie Estates, affordable multi-family rental townhomes in Inver Grove Heights. The majority of the ESG money is set for rapid rehousing and stabilization services.

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