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One man’s junk is another man’s treasure

By Staff | Aug 3, 2009

At their last regular meeting, the Blue Earth city council struggled with two issues dealing with potential unsightly areas in town.

One had to do with a business using the sidewalk for displaying items, the other dealt with unsightly yards.

The new owner of Blue Earth General Store at 210 N. Main, Kevin Guilliatt, had filled out a Right-of-Way permit application in order to place items for sale on his sidewalk.

The council discussed the pros and cons of issuing a permit.

“Is it the type of look you want on Main Street?” City Administrator Kathy Bailey asked the council. “Or is it something reserved just for a crazy days sale.”

Councilman Rick Scholtes countered by pointing to two other businesses which have merchandise on the sidewalk – Coxworth Water Softener and Lisa’s Custom Sewing and Crafts.

“If we deny him (Guilliatt), then we need to do the others as well,” Scholtes says.

Guilliatt spoke at the meeting saying he did not deal in ‘junk,’ and that he puts the merchandise away every evening.

“Many of my pieces are antiques and are good quality items,” he says.

The council granted the permit for a three-month period, setting an ending date of Oct. 31. They also required proof of insurance be furnished, and a limit of how wide the merchandise can be out into the right-of-way.

The other issue the council discussed was junk in yards.

Myron Miller spoke at the meeting concerning his neighborhood, and listed some of the yards and problems which had been brought up by Pam Armon two weeks earlier.

Miller cited the case of a rental property where the furnace and stove did not work.

He urged the council to consider a Rental Ordinance.

Bailey presented a sample ordinance from Mankato, but the council seemed reluctant to pursue such rules.

“Doesn’t our nuisance ordinance cover these problems,” one councilman asked.

Bailey says it did as far as junk in the yards is concerned, but not as far as living conditions inside the building.

“If we have a rental ordinance, it would cover code violations and we would need an inspector,” Bailey says.

Councilman John Huisman asked that research be done to see what the council can and cannot do about poor living conditions, and that the matter be added to the next meeting’s agenda.

The council also briefly looked at a garbage dumpster ordinance, which Fairmont has in place. It limits the time a dumpster can be in a yard.

Councilman Scholtes questioned the need for this ordinance. “Are there really that many dumpsters out there?” he asked.

Councilman Les Wiborg responded, “There are six in my ward alone, and they have all been there a long time.”

Huisman agreed, saying there was one in Ward I which has been in the front yard for over a year.

Councilman Dan Brod says some construction projects take longer than others, but Wiborg replied using it for remodeling debris is one thing, and using it for garbage is another.

“We need to have some rules in place for these,” he says.

In one other action dealing with public nuisances, the council finally passed the changes to the new nuisance ordinance, which had been on the agenda for three meetings.

Councilman Dan Brod voted ‘no’ on the ordinance.