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County denies property repurchase

By Staff | Aug 23, 2020

The County Board voted to deny the request for Bruce Stensland to repurchase the tax forfeited property in this above picture.

Two forfeited tax parcels, which were owned by Bruce Stensland at the time of forfeiture, were brought up for discussion at the Faribault County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Stensland had submitted a request to reacquire the properties by paying the reinstated taxes, assessments and fees associated with the properties. The repurchase price would be $11,078.37.

The properties are located at 602 E. Seventh St. and 207 S. Rice St. in Blue Earth.

Stensland had submitted a request to repurchase the properties because of his improved financial condition, according to documents presented to the board. His request also stated the loss of his property would present a hardship for him and the repurchase would best serve the public interest by allowing him to remain in business.

The city of Blue Earth, represented by mayor Rick Scholtes and city administrator Mary Kennedy, presented a letter to the County Board, from the Blue Earth City Council, with documentation which cited various incidents of code enforcement at the address of 602 E. Seventh St.

The house at Pihl’s Park is slated for demolition in the near future.

The City Council also stated they were not in favor of allowing Stensland to repurchase the property located at 602 E. Seventh St.

Commissioner Greg Young made a motion to deny the repurchase of the two properties and commissioner John Roper seconded the motion.

“From what I am gathering, this goes to more than the financial aspect of the situation,” Loveall said. “I am assuming it has become more of a nuisance issue.”

During discussion Kennedy said the city would be interested in acquiring the property.

“In the past we (the board) have always viewed private ownership as being better then government ownership,” commissioner Bill Groskreutz stated.

Commissioner Tom Warmka echoed that sentiment.

“I am a little reluctant to take property away from a private owner,” Warmka shared.

A vote was taken and Loveall joined Young and Roper in voting to deny the repurchase of the properties.

The board then asked county attorney Kathryn Karjala to explore options on what the board can do with the property. A concern was raised about the underground fuel tanks located on one of the properties and what would have to be done with them.

In other business the board also heard from County Veteran Services Officer Jenna Schmidtke regarding a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA).

“This is something we do every year,” Schmidtke explained. “The grant is based on population and we receive an annual amount of $10,000.”

The board approved the grant agreement and then voted to accept charitable donations on behalf of the Veterans Services Office totaling $2,000.

“The Elks Club in Mankato gave $500 in gift cards and the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 32 gave $1,000,” Schmidtke noted. “We also received a gift of $500 from Margaret Trenary.”

Planning and zoning administrator Loria Rebuffoni also addressed the board concerning work being done on updating the junkyard ordinance.

“One issue regarding junkyards is the environmental concerns,” she shared. “Do we have to define what junk is? We also have to decide how to enforce the ordinance.”

Commissioner Young acknowledged the junkyard situation has been a problem.

“It has been an unresolved issue for some time,” Young commented.

Rebuffoni stated it will take more than one or two meetings to get everything worked out.

“I would like to encourage you to offer a time for public comment,” Groskreutz offered.

Public Works director Mark Daly also had information for the board to act on.

“I have a bid from Freeborn County Cooperative for diesel bids for our Blue Earth, Winnebago and Bricelyn facilities and a gasoline bid for the Blue Earth location,” Daly explained. “The bids total $246,770 and they were the only company to present a bid.”

The board voted to accept the bid.

Daly also updated the commissioners on road work in the county.

“County Road 23 is finished,” he said. “And the Leland Parkway project has moved on to phase 3.”

Daly also brought up the old house located at Pihl’s Park.

“We found out it would be cost prohibitive to convert it to a storm shelter,” Daly commented. “We have a backhoe available so I am wondering, should we take it down?”

The board directed Daly to demolish the house.

Michelle Klinkner of the Faribault County Extension Office gave a report to the commissioners on the 4-H Achievement Showcase Event held July 27-30 at the county fairgrounds.

“We had 76 total exhibits,” Klinkner said. “It was a good opportunity for the kids to be recognized for their work after the fair was cancelled.”

The board also:

Set Sept. 1, at 9:30 a.m. for a public hearing regarding the issuance of an intoxicating liquor license for the Derby Inn, located in Jo Daviess Township. The hearing will be held via Zoom.

Voted to create a Soil and Water District committee and appointed the County Board chair and vice chair to serve on the committee.

Approved the request of Todd Hanevik of the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office to attend an online Jail Administrators Conference.

Voted to approve the request of Clara Veriede of the Central Services office to attend a two-day Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative Conference via Zoom.

Scheduled a budget work session for Aug. 28, to begin at the conclusion of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act work session, which begins on Aug. 28, at 8 a.m.