September 10, 2007

Lester Prairie takes owner of hazardous building to court

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

The building at 100 Maple Street South in Lester Prairie has had a colorful history, and over the years it has been a haven for travelers and a nursing home for the care of the sick and elderly.

Recently, however, it has been the subject of a legal battle between the city and owners Corey Schmidt and Clint Schmidt.

The parties appeared before Judge Michael Savre in district court Aug. 30.

The court heard testimony from Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson, Building Inspector Steve Smith, City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk, and Corey Schmidt.

This was the latest step in a process that began more than a year ago.

The building has been declared a public hazard, and the city has been working to get the owners to correct the situation.

As a result of the proceedings, the court ordered the Schmidts to:

• secure all doorways and windows within 10 days, and regularly inspect the building to make sure that it remains secure.

• remove the outside ladder that extends from the ground to the second floor within 15 days.

• trim the trees and bushes around the windows and doors within 90 days.

• install four motion detector-activated lights around the perimeter of the building within 60 days. An electrical inspection is to be performed prior to this installation, and any hazards must be remedied prior to installation.

• allow an inspection within 30 days to determine if there are any combustible materials in the building. If any such materials are found, they are to be removed immediately.

• secure all windows and doors in the three accessory buildings.

If the Schmidts fail to comply with this order, the city may file a request for a compliance hearing.

The story thus far:

• September 2006, City Building Inspector Kyle Christenson inspected the property and determined it was a hazard to public safety.

• October 2006, the city council directed City Attorney Jody Winter to proceed with a court order for repairs. The order was served Oct. 14, and gave the Schmidts 60 days to complete repairs. Carlson noted that there were still blight issues, including junk and tall grass and weeds outside the building.

• Dec. 14, 2006 was the court ordered date for completion of repairs.

• Dec. 11, 2006, Schmidt appeared before the city council and said he wanted to turn the building into condominiums or apartments. Schmidt said he could start interior demolition right away, and had “15 guys ready to go.” Mayor Eric Angvall expressed frustration with Schmidt’s failure to reply to correspondence from the city, and questioned his appearance days before the court-ordered deadline.

He also mentioned the legal expenses the city had incurred to get Schmidt to correct the problems with the building. The council agreed to put judgement on hold until February, with the stipulation that Schmidt submit a preliminary plan to the planning commission in January, and to the council in February.

• Feb. 16, 2007, due to Schmidt’s failure to comply, a summons and order for repair was served.

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