Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 22, 2000

City removes junk from local property

By Andrea Vargo

The junk is piled high against walls, fences, and in an old truck. City maintenance workers prepared to tackle the job of cleaning up the property on the corner of Wright County Road 6 and 10th Street in Howard Lake.

This was an emergency situation, said City Administrator Doug Borglund.

The owner died about a year ago, and the house is empty. There are dangers to children, like the freezer with the door wide open, as well as hazardous wastes, he said.

There are metals, trash, bikes, old furniture, scaffolding, paint, gas in cans, an old truck, boat and a motorcycle, Borglund noted.

"It looks like (the city's area for) city clean-up day," he said.

Clean up of the property was authorized by the council, and a notice was posted on the door of the house last week.

Borglund said he contacted a sister of the deceased man and told her the clean up costs will be assessed to the home's taxes.

At $100 per hour, per city employee, the bill may be expensive. Borglund estimated three maintenance workers spent three to four hours Tuesday afternoon, and a lot more time and maybe another dumpster will be needed, he said.

Other costs will include attorney fees, dumpsters, towing and storage for the boat and truck, and a 10 percent administration fee.

In other words, Borglund said, 100 percent of all the bills associated with the clean up work will be assessed to the property.

This whole exercise, while eliminating an emergency situation, is a dry run for the new nuisance ordinance.

After the council makes a visual inspection of the city Tuesday, more violations are expected to be addressed, he said.

Addressing this emergency situation is the start of action by the council to clean up the city and eliminate garbage or vehicles that cause the city to look unkempt.

None of this is intended to punish or single out anyone, Borglund said, and the council wants to be respectful of a citizen's private property.

One tire leaning against a garage is not an issue, but piles of garbage, old vehicles that stay around for a long time, or citizen complaints trigger the criteria the city uses to determine a public nuisance.

Something needs to be done about these situations, and the council is serious about cleaning up the city, Borglund stated.

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