Dakota County makes a deal for Spring Lake Park land
Dakota County and one of the property owners involved in a bitter fight over their land at Spring Lake Park came to an agreement last week.
The county’s board of commissioners met in a closed meeting last week to discuss the condemnation case with the family of the late Richard Mauch.
The settlement was formally approved at the county board meeting on Tuesday.
“It is always our preference to negotiate with property owners to reach a purchase agreement. Working with willing sellers is our preferred approach for parks, road construction and any other land we need for public purposes. It is the way we like to do business. Always have, always will,” Dakota County Board Chair Liz Workman said. “With this property purchase, we are excited to move forward with our longstanding plans for expanding Spring Lake Park Reserve and the Mississippi River Regional Trail.”
The board decision was unanimous, with all commissioners expressing their gratification at the settlement of the condemnation case. The county’s plans for the newly acquired acreage include the construction of a four-mile segment of paved trail that will connect to the existing Mississippi River Regional Trail. When complete in 2015, the trail will stretch 27 miles from St. Paul to Hastings and will eventually be part of the 3,000-mile national Mississippi River Trail that connects Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.
The settlement agreement with the Drews/Mauch families consists of three parts.
Part one includes immediate fee acquisition by the County of 1.8 acres to enable construction of the Mississippi River Regional Trail. The County will pay $86,000 for this land.
Part two includes immediate acquisition by the county of a conservation easement over the remaining land, approximately 6.6 acres, excluding the two-acre home site. The county will pay $250,000 for this easement. Dakota County and the families will work together to develop a natural resource management plan for this acreage. The county may acquire fee title to the 6.6 acres no earlier than 2034, for 20 percent of the appraised value of the land, based upon an appraisal at the time of acquisition.
Part three includes the families granting to the county a right of first refusal and option to purchase the two-acre home site. The option may be exercised no earlier than 2054. The county will pay the appraised value of the home site, based upon an appraisal at the time of acquisition.
These general settlement terms were reached by the parties through good faith negotiations last week.
In a statement, the family’s attorney, Beverly Aho, said that while the family would have preferred to maintain ownership of their entire 10.41-acre parcel, they had offered to sell 1.8 acres to Dakota County for the purpose of the Mississippi River Regional Trail through Spring Lake Park Reserve.
“The family will work with Dakota County to keep this property and resource pristine,” Aho said. “The family will maintain use of 8.6 acres, including the home, boat ramps and marina, for their private purposes as had always been their desire, and will have an easement for septic/well purposes over the 8.6 acres. The county will provide a private gate and necessary screening for their privacy. Should the family ever decide to sell the property, they have granted Dakota County the right of first refusal, and Dakota County will not use its power of eminent domain over the property again. Instead, Dakota County may acquire fee title to the 6.6 acres no sooner than 20 years, but in any event will not develop it sooner than 2054. In addition, Dakota County may acquire fee title to the two-acre homestead with its boat ramp and slip but not sooner than 2054, with provisions for the family to lease it back for up to 10 years, if desired. At the time of these future acquisitions, should they occur, both sides will obtain appraisals and if a purchase price cannot be agreed upon, it will go to arbitration.
“My clients truly love their land, and this is their piece of paradise in Minnesota. Their desire was to be able to enjoy this property with their children and grandchildren, and now they can without threat of it being taken away next week or next year. In addition, they appreciate the county’s help to remediate environmental concerns. They are good stewards of the land, and join the county in wanting to preserve this beautiful area for generations to come.”