12/7/2017 8:44:00 AM County starts clean-up of Nelson property
by Sandy Hadler
Lisa Hanni, Director of Land Use Management for Goodhue County, addressed the county board on Tuesday, November 21, and gave a background history on two properties owned by the Nelson family in Stanton Township. She requested approval to assess abatement costs for the property, stating that the County continues to get complaints about the accumulation of unlicensed vehicles and other junk on the property.
A week ago, she and her staff members spent three days cleaning up the property because the landowner failed to meet a November 15 deadline to clean it up. Hanni said there are three acres that are covered with old cars and junk, and the County's staff got about one-half of an acre cleared. Cost to do the entire cleaning will be somewhere around $60,000. They moved 20 vehicles to an area where the Nelsons can use a dolly and remove them from their land. They will be given until November 15, 2018, to do so. They signed a written agreement stating that they will abide by the request.
In 2012 it cost $40,000 for County staff to clean up the same property. At that time, the Board gave the landowner a three-year repayment opportunity, and none of it was paid back. The fees were then assessed to the landowner's taxes, with interest, but they never paid that either.
The Nelson's daughter came to the Board in June 2016, at which time the Commissioners agreed to grant her request to let the landowners re-purchase the properties. Hanni told the Board, "At that time, you agreed it would be in the County's best interest to allow the landowners to re-purchase the property and pay all the fees by July 7. But the fees went unpaid once again, and the Board gave them an extension to August 31, 1016."
On August 31, 2016, the landowners and a neighbor paid the fees and clean-up costs. The middle part of the property between two roads was deeded to the neighbor. That property was also included in the clean up a week ago, and it will be assessed to the Nelson's taxes. Work on the property ceased because Sentence-to-Serve workers had other commitments and were unable to work past those three days. Work on the properties will continue in April.
Commissioner Paul Drotos asked what the relationship was between the neighbor and the property owner. Hanni responded, "I don't know."
Chairman Ron Allen stated, "We've given him every break in the book for the past 14 years. I think we have to take action."
Drotos asked what the source of the junk was and whether it was a commercial dump.
Hanni replied, "It is not a junk yard, and it is not a place that people officially dump junk." She said that for 14 years, the County Attorney and the Sheriff have been supportive of the County's efforts to find a solution concerning this property.
The Board discussed whether to put the charges on the 2018 or the 2019 taxes, and agreed to put them on the 2018 taxes, using the average interest rate. The Nelsons will have one year to pay off what they owe. Hanni said she will go out again in April to assess the remainder of the costs for clean-up of the properties.