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City to pursue criminal charges on longtime construction project

Terry Kinder (left) and Brainerd City Council member Gary Scheeler discuss the work needed on Kinder's longtime project during the council's visit to inspect progress on June 20, 2014. Brainerd Dispatch file photo.

The city of Brainerd is pursuing criminal charges against a property owner who, after nearly two years and multiple concessions from the city, has yet to finish a house construction project.

At the Brainerd City Council meeting Monday, the group unanimously agreed to pursue criminal charges, citing few other options and a $2,000 fine cap that's about to be reached.

A lengthy back-and-forth between Terry Kinder and the city started a few months ago as complaints poured in over his property at 1420 Quince St., which has been undergoing construction since the initial building permit was granted in September 2012.

Health issues prevented Kinder from working for nine months. Progress after that on the project was slow, so the council got involved, setting deadlines when Kinder should complete the work.

At the first Brainerd City Council meeting in June, Kinder was given an additional seven days, or until June 9, to complete the exterior work at his property. Failing to do so would mean being fined $100 a day, the group previously decided. If Kinder didn't meet that June 9 deadline, but still completed the work by June 20, the fines would have been forgiven.

During a June 20 house visit to Kinder's property, the council voted to fine Kinder $100 a day, starting June 21, until the work was completed. The council also agreed to forgive all past fines since Kinder was making progress on the longtime project.

But city code only allows for up to $2,000 in violation fees. That maximum will be hit this week, said City Planner Mark Ostgarden.

"In my opinion, it's not close to being completed in any near future," he said of the project.

As of Monday, the retaining wall behind the house was not completed. Neither was the siding and sidewalk.

"The entire site is so packed down with truck traffic that trying to get the ground to grow grass will be darn near impossible," Ostgarden said. "He will have to break up the compact dirt and seed it. I don't see that being done for quite a while yet."

With the $2,000 fine limit about to be reached, the council needs to decide what its next step is, Ostgarden said.

The city hasn't been in a similar situation that staff can recall.

City Attorney Eric Quiring said it was a unique situation since, in this case, the city won't go in and finish the work at the cost to the owner, as the city can do in other cases.

"We are limited on civil options at this point," he said.

While criminal charges are in the works, Kinder will be denied any city construction permits, the council voted.

Jessie Perrine
Jessie covers the Brainerd City Council and the Brainerd School Board. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Jessie attended Winona State University, where she majored in journalism with a minor in women and gender studies. She worked at the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and the La Crosse Tribune before starting at the Dispatch in 2012.
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