Task force will address rental issues

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

During the Monday meeting of the New Prague City Council, questions were raised about a new task force formed to address rental issues in New Prague.

Mayor W.A. Bink Bender, a member of the task force, said the purpose of the group is to identify key issues and address worries residents have regarding the homes built by Parish Marketing and Development Corporation in the Prague Estates housing subdivision.

The Eagan-based Parish Marketing had been under investigation for several months with the company, and its owners recently pleading guilty to conspiring to commit mortgage fraud and money laundering.

Resident Mary Hagel asked if there was any bias against renters in the city.

Both Mayor Bender and councilmember Kay Wilcox said there was no bias in the city government or on the council.

Hagel and two other residents wanted to know what was being done to help people who had Parish homes. Some of these residents had signed a contract for deed and others were renters. Residents in that area have noticed a number of people looking in some of the houses and breaking into others. They had been trying to contact authorities with information, but had been hitting dead ends.

Bender said the city has been trying to coordinate information dissemination.

It was mentioned that attorney Gary Hansen of Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly of Minneapolis will be working with the various groups involved in the situation.

The Task Force

Members of the task force are Bender, Lori Hodapp-Betterton, Ron McBroom, Ann Sletten and Wilcox. The staff liaison is New Prague City Planner Renee Christianson. Hodapp-Betterton and Sletten are homeowners in Prague Estates, and McBroom is an owner of rental property in New Prague.

The group was formed after homeowners, many from Prague Estates including renters, addressed the New Prague City Council. The task force will have open meetings to discuss the positives and negatives of developing and implementing a rental ordinance that will cover the entire city.

At Monday's council meeting, it was suggested that Hansen attend a task force meeting.

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