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Crow Wing County Board: Removing risky rubbish

A vacant mobile home filled with discarded tires and a garage bursting with bags of household garbage will be cleaned up by a contractor hired by Crow Wing County.

A vacant mobile home filled with discarded tires and a garage bursting with bags of household garbage at 6818 Wels Ave. in Barrows will be cleaned up by a contractor hired by Crow Wing County. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)
A vacant mobile home filled with discarded tires and a garage bursting with bags of household garbage at 6818 Wels Ave. in Barrows will be cleaned up by a contractor hired by Crow Wing County. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)

A vacant mobile home filled with discarded tires and a garage bursting with bags of household garbage will be cleaned up by a contractor hired by Crow Wing County.

The county board approved a request Tuesday from the community services department to hire Schrupp Excavating in Pine River for $9,800 to clean up the Barrows property, which was officially deemed a public health nuisance.

Officials with Crow Wing Township, where the property is located, contacted community services in October after receiving complaints of garbage dumping at the parcel at 6818 Wels Ave., Brainerd.

Greg Smith, township supervisor, said in a phone interview the property was cleaned up once by a relative of the original property owner, who died in 2010.

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The property was cleaned up once by a relative of the original property owner, who died in 2010. - Greg Smith, township supervisor

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"At the time, it was mostly just debris, just stuff. It wasn't the garbage that is there now," Smith said. "The town board was real happy with what he did, because Barrows has some issues with junk and he had gone in there voluntarily and took care of things."

Since that cleanup, however, at least one person began leaving household garbage inside and outside of the structures on the property. Smith said the township sent a certified letter concerning the nuisance but did not receive a response. The property is now owned by the trust of the deceased property owner.

The township board decided because of the raw garbage and the potential for public health concerns, it would forward the complaint to the county.

"They have a little bit more teeth in it than what we did in the process," Smith said.

Michelle Moritz, public health nurse in community services, said after receiving the township's complaint, she completed an inspection of the property in late October.

"It was garbage that was strewn around, and they were concerned about animals, but also safety concerns with the buildings," Moritz said in a phone interview after Tuesday's meeting. "There were concerns of the garbage on the property being a hazard to those around the property."

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Moritz said she receives complaints weekly about problem properties in the county, but most often the issue is resolved by working directly with the landowner to address concerns. In this case, attempts at correspondence with the trustee were unsuccessful.

A second inspection of the property in November confirmed household garbage was continuously being left there. Moritz said between the two inspections, more trash had accumulated, including mail identifying the potential dumper.

State law establishes abating public health nuisances as an area of public health responsibility. Moritz said to determine the threat to public health, the county evaluates whether the conditions affect the public-meaning more than one person-and if those conditions represent a real or potential health risk. This includes transmittable diseases, trauma or injury risk, exposure to hazardous materials or potentially unsafe structures or environments, Moritz said.

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The name of the individual identified through mail found in the garbage was forwarded to the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office for follow-up and to the county attorney's office for possible charges. - Michelle Moritz, public health nurse in community services

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The name of the individual identified through mail found in the garbage was forwarded to the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office for follow-up and to the county attorney's office for possible charges, Moritz said. It's possible the property owner could also face criminal charges for allowing the garbage dumping to occur.

Moritz worked with the land services department on inspections and calling for bids from contractors on the cleanup. Funds from the county's solid waste fund will pay for cleaning up the property. A lien covering the costs will be attached to the property title, meaning the property cannot be sold or refinanced unless the debt associated with the cleanup is paid.

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"We were very pleased that the county was able to step in," Smith said. "It's maybe something we can look at further down the road. I'm just one member of the town board, but maybe it's something that the township can do in conjunction with the county, as far as if it comes to some cost-sharing. Boy, if they have a heavier hand than we do in these situations, than I think we'd be more than happy to work with them just to get some of these sites taken care of. There's enough to go around, that's for sure."

 

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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