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County to clean up public nuisance property

The money for the clean up will come from the solid waste fund and then be assessed to the property owner.

Garbage and debris sit outside a home.
Crow Wing County deemed a property on County Road 8 as a public health nuisance and will clean it up with county funds that will later be assessed to the property owner.
Contributed / Crow Wing County
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BRAINERD — Crow Wing County will use $13,500 worth of solid waste funds to clean up a property that has been deemed a public health nuisance.

County commissioners reviewed photos Tuesday, July 26, of the property at 10000 block of County Road 8 east of Brainerd near South Long Lake. The photos showed scraps of wood, old tires, mattresses, furniture and numerous piles of other garbage and debris.

Environmental Services Supervisor Jake Frie told the board he worked with the community services department to determine the property was a public health nuisance under state statute, and the problem had not been taken care of in the timeline provided via written communication to the property owner. The county will now take over the nuisance abatement.

Frie said he found a contractor who estimated the work to cost about $13,500, though that price will likely increase because the problem spread to a small portion of the neighboring property as well. County board members authorized the use of solid waste funds for the cleanup. The cost will then be assessed to the property owner to cover.

Commissioner Paul Koering, who represents the district in which the property lies, said he was almost speechless after seeing the photos of the property.

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“I’m trying not to cuss and swear because I’m really just quite upset, and I’m trying to use the proper decorum here at the board, but this is outrageous,” Koering said. “There’s children that are living here in squalor.”

The issue is a perfect example of necessary government intervention, Koering added. He thanked staff members for moving forward on the issue, as he said residents in that neighborhood have been hounding him to clean up the property.

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County Administrator Tim Houle said this issue is neither common nor rare in the county.

“Oftentimes there are mental health struggles that are at work here,” Houle said. “I don’t use that to excuse, only to explain. I think we have to get this cleaned up. It’s a public health nuisance. And I’m afraid that we may be back at this one again and maybe again.”

The abatement will not be the first for this property.

“And that’s the tragedy here,” Houle siad. “If indeed we continue to clean again and again and again, the assessments become so high that they can’t pay their taxes, and we will take the property, and then we have different problems. So these are intractable problems for us.”

Community Health Manager Gina Heyer said the county has worked with the property owner for a while to address issues inside the home.

Commission Chair Doug Houge said because this problem is present elsewhere in the county, he would like to see the county get involved sooner rather than later before the problem worsens to that of the property in question.

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Houle said county staff is working to compress the timeframe to address these issues but still has to be careful not to overrule due process.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

Tabled a public hearing on a petition to vacate Wunder Road, as the applicant had not yet provided a completed application for the vacation.

Authorized the community services director to sign a memorandum of understanding and accept the bylaws of the Central Healthcare Coalition.

Accepted a bid from Borden Excavating Inc. for the County Road 115/Ojibwa Road reconstruction at a cost of $7,757,886.10. The lowest of the five bids came in under the roughly $8.17 million engineer’s estimate for the project.

Authorized staff to order 2023 fleet vehicles and equipment from the capital improvement plan early and pay for them in 2023 because of challenges with the procurement process. The list includes vehicles for the highway and facilities departments and up to seven squad cars for the sheriff’s office.

Accepted a bid from Consolidated Telephone Company for the broadband expansion project in the Trommald and Riverton areas, as part of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus program.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Related Topics: CROW WING COUNTYCROW WING COUNTY BOARDGOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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