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City starts civil process to clear 'illegal flea market'

City officials are now working on a civil process to force the cleanup of an “illegal flea market” on Pine Street.

Property owner Chad Ross missed another deadline of Feb. 12 to clean a cluttered yard in Brainerd.

Since Ross hasn’t reported to jail, a judge will now need to issue a bench warrant for his arrest, said City Planner Mark Ostgarden.

Ross was first given until Dec. 20 to clear his yard after he pleaded guilty in November to three misdemeanor counts of storage of junk and debris in Crow Wing District Court. In turn, two misdemeanor charges of operating a business in a residential zone were dismissed.

By pleading guilty, all fines racked up from the city for the zoning violation ­— about $6,000 — were dismissed.

The catch, however, was that Ross was required by court to clean his yard to the city’s satisfaction by Dec. 20, and to keep it that way throughout his three-year probation. A violation could mean being sent to Crow Wing County Jail for 90 days for each count consecutively.

When that deadline came and went, he was offered another deadline: Feb. 12.

City Attorney Eric Quiring said his staff is now drafting the paperwork to begin the civil process to have the items removed by city staff or a contractor.

The cost of the removal will be charged against the property via an assessment, Quiring said.

The property is currently in foreclosure.

Attention was first brought to the cluttered yard in August. Ostgarden said Ross was in violation of a city zoning ordinance since he was operating a large sale out of his yard.

It’s the duration and the size of the sale that make the collection an “illegal flea market,” he said.

Since the story was first reported in September, the density of items accumulated on Ross’ property on the 1200 block of Pine Street has ballooned. Today, items sit blanketed in snow.

City council member Gary Scheeler said he was concerned about safety as the snow melts and what will happen to the items sitting on snow banks.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at