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Council asked to deal with public nuisances

By Staff | Jul 13, 2009

The Blue Earth City Council had their hands full of public nuisance issues at their meeting last Monday.

Besides trying to accept a new city nuisance and zoning code, the council had several citizens speak to specific problems in the city.

Pam Armon had a list of properties in her neighborhood that she says need attention. She also asked if an ordinance could be created to force landlords to clean up rental properties.

She said listed items such as abandoned cars, piles of garbage including old carpeting, and unmowed lawns.

“It’s not just me complaining, it is our whole neighborhood,” she told the council.

Armon was told some of the property owners had been contacted and enforcement was ongoing. But in other cases, there isn’t much the city can do.“We can’t enter private property and remove items unless there is a specific code violation,” City Attorney David Frundt says.

Armon says she has cleaned up one offending property herself, and another with long grass was mowed by another resident.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says several of the properties in question have been sent letters by the city and are in the process outlined by the nuisance code.

An updated nuisance and zoning code has been on the city agenda for the past several meetings, but has not yet been accepted by the council.

A vote on it was postponed again, until the July 20 meeting, despite a motion and a second having been made on Monday.

Councilman Dan Brod says a page was missing in his copy of the code, and Councilman Dick Maher says he was not ready to vote on the issue.

Mayor Rob Hammond tabled the item to the next meeting.

Residents Len and Brenda Ripley used the public comment portion of the meeting to discuss what they feel will be a future public nuisance.

The Ripleys live at 521 S. Galbraith and face the United Hospital District hospital and clinic building.

The problem they voiced had to do with the new construction planned by UHD. When it is completed, the Ripleys’ view out their front window will be of the loading dock area of the new building.

Ripley had photos of other loading docks in the city, and says they are not always maintained well, and can be a nuisance.

Plus, he says, the garbage dumpster area will also be their front view.

Ripley also was concerned about the number of trucks which will be unloading there each day, and how noisy they will be.

He says they have $100,000 invested in their home, and the value is going to go down with this hospital project.

The council thanked him for coming to the meeting with his concern, but Mayor Hammond says there probably isn’t much the city can do.

“You may have to take other action in this matter,” Hammond says. “As far as we know, they meet the zoning requirements.”

Ripley also expressed concern about the streets, especially when Galbraith becomes a major truck route to get to the hospital.

“These trucks have already torn up the street,” he says. “Shouldn’t UHD be responsible for the assessment for new streets?”

Bailey says the assessments would be made the same way the ones on 10th and Moore have been made.

Council members also expressed concern about truck traffic on the streets.

“Aren’t they supposed to be using 14th and Main Streets now,” Maher questioned.

UHD Administrator Jeff Lang, who was at the city meeting, says they try and keep their delivery drivers aware of the route to take to the hospital.

“The regular drivers know, but sometimes there is a substitute driver or a new one,” Lang says.