By Teri Knight, News Director
In April of last year, two people were charged in the death of a 3-year-old Eagan boy in foster care. In April of this year, 28-year-old Charles Homich pled guilty to 2nd degree murder in the death of 3-year-old Zayden Lawson, a foster child in the care of his girlfriend, 32-year-old Zeporia Fortenberry. His sentencing is set for August 13, 2019, in Hastings. Fortenberry pled guilty Thursday to one count of 2nd degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 41 months in prison. On the afternoon of June 7, 2017, Eagan police and paramedics were sent to a townhome where a three-year-old was not breathing. Evidence in the criminal complaint suggested that Homich had been beating the child for having to use a diaper
and that Fortenberry allowed it to happen. The criminal complaints against the pair are too graphic to post.
Council debates affordable housing opportunity as neighbors say they were promised parkland
A vote on vacating an outlot in the Southbridge area of Northfield just south of Spring Creek soccer fields went on for well over an hour as Northfield councilors debated whether the area was supposed to be parkland or could it be developed for affordable housing. City engineer Dave Bennett explained that when Southbridge was platted in 2000, Outlot A, along with other outlots, was shown “preliminarily” as dedicated parkland, “or potential parkland.” But in 2004, when the parkland was dedicated to the city, that outlot did not get dedicated and instead remained in private ownership. Four other outlots in the area were designated parkland. There were several neighbors in the council chambers. A few spoke out saying they were promised this would be parkland, other residents spoke outside chambers telling KYMN the same thing. Karen, whose home is on Ford Street, has lived there for 15 years. She’s concerned about the traffic with new townhomes proposed, saying, “You’re talking emergency vehicles aren’t going to get through, you’re talking streets that are no longer safe for children to be on because there’s no way out of there. Back when the flooding happened, we were literally trapped down there because there was no way out.” She said until council is willing to spend the money to extend Ford Street, “any kind of other development down there is just reckless, you’re putting lives in danger.” Councilor DeLong, who represents
that ward, argued for the residents. Outlot A is privately owned and the owners initiated the vacation for affordable homes. City Administrator Ben Martig said, “They’re seeking some tax increment financing funds which is why the HRA got involved. The planning commission has also reviewed the preliminary plans and approved some variances with it so this is part of a larger process for the private owners seeking some development so that’s where it got a little complicated.” As for parkland, he said, “This one we discussed at one point it being a park but it is not a park now, it is privately owned. It is basically just a green site with the utility and drainage easement over that.” The first reading of the vacation ordinance passed this week 5 to 2, with councilors DeLong and Ness voting no. As for connectivity, Martig said there are potential plans for Ford Street to be extended to Highway 246: “If that can open up more housing development, which we know there’s a demand, and maybe help deal with some of the traffic flow issues, that might be an opportunity for us in the relative near future. Staff is working with owners on that.” City staff will supply further information to council before this comes back to them on July 2, 2019. 2 – Southbridge Outlot A Vacation Map
Carleton and baseball bringing visitors to Northfield
This weekend is going to be busy in Northfield. It’s Carleton Reunion and the Northfield Youth Baseball Association is hosting a state qualifying tournament beginning today. In addition to Northfield’s eleven teams, fifty-three teams will be coming from around the state. Organizer Lance Reisetter said they’ll start arriving into town around 3 p.m. this afternoon and competition will wrap up around 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.