Alexandria takes aim at nuisance violatorsChanges may be made soon in the Alexandria’s nuisance ordinance. At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council gave preliminary approval to an amendment that would allow the city to take quicker action against violators.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Changes may be made soon in the Alexandria’s nuisance ordinance.
At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council gave preliminary approval to an amendment that would allow the city to take quicker action against violators.
City Attorney Tom Jacobson said the current ordinance gives violators 10 days to fix the problem while the changes would allow the city to take swift action, setting the time on the notice of violation, which is then posted, served or mailed.
The changes were modeled at the League of Minnesota Cities’ recommendations and the city of St. Paul’s nuisance ordinance, Jacobson said.
Council member Virgil Batesole said he talked to League officials who told him that the nuisance ordinance is a pain that the League tries to steer away from.
Batesole also had problems with the part of the ordinance that allows “the City” to determine whether there is a violation. He said that could be anybody from the city who wants to start writing violations on a whim.
Jacobson said the ordinance provides specific definitions of what a violation is and that “the City” with a capital C means those who are trained to deal with nuisances, such as the building inspector, police and fire department.
Jacobson said that the League hasn’t shied away from nuisance laws and showed a 39-page document of their recommendations on how such laws should be written and enforced.
Council member Dave Benson noted that since June, he’s received several complaints about a yard in his ward that’s not being maintained. It has very long grass billowing in the wind, garbage that hasn’t been taken out in months and other signs of neglect, yet nothing has been done.
The city is still trying to notify the owner, Benson said. “Anything we can do to make this less cumbersome would be welcome,” he said.
The council voted 3-1 to approve the first reading of the ordinance. Batesole voted against it.
In other action, the council:
• Agreed to appoint Michael Cass as assistant city attorney. Jacobson made the request, noting that Cass recently joined the Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson law firm.
• Accepted a gift of land to the city from Habitat for Humanity of Douglas County. The undeveloped lot is at 1804 South Oak Knoll. It’s mostly low-ground and wetland and is prone to flooding. By getting the land, the city will have a more direct access to a culvert from South Oak Knoll, which it plans to clean out as part of the Thomas Drive improvement project. At some point in the future, the city may also use the land for a stormwater collection pond, according to City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven. In related action, the city also discharged the special assessments on the property, which amounted to $3,475.
• Approved a resolution recognizing Douglas Scientific as the honoree at this year’s Business and Industrial Appreciation Day in Alexandria on October 23. The award, given by the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission, recognizes the company for its significant accomplishments and contributions to the area. Douglas Scientific is a rapidly growing manufacturing and biosciences company that employs about 70 people.
• Agreed to temporarily close two blocks of street and sidewalk for First Lutheran Church’s Living Nativity event on Saturday, December 1. Traffic will be restricted to one way, going south, on Douglas Street between 7th and 9th Avenue.
• Agreed on a 3-1 vote to hire Justin Marthaler as a street maintenance worker, level one. He will replace one of two workers who recently left the department. The park department is also short-handed by one employee, noted City Administrator Jim Taddei. Marthaler, who had been working part-time at the fire station, will start August 14 and earn a starting salary of $3,107 a month. Batesole voted against the hiring. He had concerns about the pay, which he said was very high, and wanted to wait on filling positions in the street department until a new city engineer is hired.
• Was informed that the League of Minnesota Cities will hold a regional meeting in Perham on September 20, beginning at 1 p.m.
• Was reminded that the mayor and city council will hold open-to-the-public work sessions on the budget on August 20 at 1 p.m. and August 27 at 5 p.m.
• Was informed that an event to celebrate Alexandria’s first public art, The Gathering Tree sculpture, will take place Thursday, August 23 from 4 to 5 p.m. at Big Ole Central Park. Ice cream will be served at the free event.
• Approved the following licenses: on-sale beer and wine for Grand Arbor; off-sale beer for the Freeway Tesoro convenience store; and the selling of raffle tickets at three charitable gambling events – the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association at the RCC on March 16, Alexandria chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association at the Eagles Club on November 17 and the Chain of Lakes Ducks Unlimited at Broadway Ballroom on September 14.