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County makes progress on cleaning up nuisance properties

Crow Wing County reports its made progress on nuisance properties strewn with garbage or tires.

Earlier this week, a Bernard Road resident raised concerns about worn tires and garbage on a property near North Long Lake.

The Land Services department noted it has two proposed property cleanup projects. Both have been complicated by the fact that owners are deceased.

The county reported the complaint it received on the 17146 Bernard Road came in 2011 and staff has worked with family members and the individual appointed to the estate to clean up the property.

Chris Pence, Land Services supervisor, said the county has a process it works through for solid waste violations.

“It takes time, it’s not something that happens real quick,” Pence said. “This is a situation where there is nobody to write a citation to.”

When it comes to junk and solid waste it ends up being an 18-month window from beginning to end, Pence said.

Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said that time frame is an improvement as when she came on the board there were problem properties extending for a decade.

The county tries to encourage voluntary cleanup first. Since no one was living at the property on Bernard Road, Pence said people were using it as a dump site.

Another parcel is at 7589 County Road 13 in Brainerd with a large number of tires. The complaint on that property was also received in 2011, the Land Services department reported. The owner, who is now deceased, refused to remove the tires and refused to allow a Sentence to Serve crew to remove the tires.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” said Commissioner Paul Thiede. “It’s a very tough issue.”

Thiede complimented staff and said after looking at photos of piles of junk while the county may be able to act faster staff is going about the work the right way.

Commissioner Phil Trusty said he is one of those people who thinks about the land rights in the mix so he appreciates the time staff takes to work on the solid waste violations.

Sometimes, Pence said people don’t realize the value they are sitting on and the options available to them.

Pence said during a cleanup a property owner with 30 cars was surprised to get $300 to recycle the vehicles and ended up wishing there were more on the property to remove.

Pence said he read an online comment about areas to the south of Brainerd and he noted the county doesn’t have the authority in Barrows, as Crow Wing Township handles its own planning and zoning.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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