Property clean up request to go through civil court

Isanti County Board
The Isanti County Zoning Office was banging its head against the wall
trying to get a Wyanett Township residence to clean up its visible mess
to no avail. Civil court may be one direction with more persuasion
attached to it.

Greg Hunt
greg.hunt@ecm-inc.com

The Isanti County Zoning Office was banging its head against the wall trying to get a Wyanett Township residence to clean up its visible mess to no avail. Civil court may be one direction with more persuasion attached to it.

Zoning Director Tim Anderson approached the Isanti County Board at its Jan. 19 meeting and received approval for the civil court action against the landowner. At this point, the county may seek up to $15,000 through the court in order to hire a clean-up crew for the property, which would then in turn be applied to the property’s taxes if the suit falls in favor of the county.

“It’s very visible, and we received a lot of complaints from neighbors to the property,” explained Anderson. “The charges are a misdemeanor, and the owner has already served jail time on them. But he gets out of jail and still the property is not in compliance.”

Commissioner Larry Southerland recommended Anderson stay in touch with the Wyanett Township board on this issue as the case moves toward trial time.

Human Rights Commission disbanded

After a public hearing was held at the Jan. 19 meeting, the board voted to disband the Isanti County Human Rights Commission. A principal reason for the move was the commission in recent years had sparse attendance at its meetings, so much so that a legal quorum was not present to vote on action.

The commission was founded years ago with a mission to educate the public on human rights issues, as opposed to investigating claims since that was the role of the state’s human rights commission. But Commissioner Susan Morris, the board’s representative to the commission the past two years, was critical of the attendance patterns over that span.

“I attended nearly every scheduled meeting, and at no one meeting was there a quorum to vote on business. There were times I was the only one who arrived for the meeting and was not notified the meeting was cancelled,” said Commissioner Morris. “The board is not against human rights, obviously. But some things become antiquated because only three of Minnesota’s 87 counties have human rights commissions. A lot of counties have pulled out.”

County Attorney Jeff Edblad added that he legally finds the recent attendance of the commission unacceptable.

“If you have an organization that’s an arm of the government meeting with no quorum for two years, that brings a liability to the county,” he explained.

Speaking in favor of continuing the human rights commission were members Gary Skarsten, Sue Larson and Paul Oiem. Skarsten explained that this past year’s short-handed situation revolved around the acting chairman moving to Duluth for an employment opportunity which turned permanent. But, Skarsten continued, the commission still hosted a successful seminar night in November 2010 for Cambridge-Isanti and Braham teachers on the subject of bullying and cyber bullying.

Larson and Oiem both added they would hate to see the county lose the human rights commission. Its members were volunteers showing up for free, they added, and the commission could still be relied upon for educational opportunities.

The board voted 2-1 to disband the commission, with Commissioners Morris and Alan Duff voting to repeal its establishing order. Commissioner Southerland voted in favor of keeping the commission, and Commissioner George Larson abstained from voting since he had split feelings on both sides of the issue.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a $4,863 snow plow purchase for the Isanti County Parks Dept. for winter maintaining park roadways and parking lots. Coordinator Barry Wendorf said the plow is necessary since Anderson and Becklin Homestead parks now have cross country ski trails, as does Springvale Park.

• Approved the following half appropriations to community organizations: East Central Regional Library $195,943; Commission on Aging $16,000; Soil & Water Conservation District $15,000; The Refuge $11,800; Isanti Co. Historical Society $8,500; Agricultural Society $5,000; Central MN Initiative Fund $3,250. Approved the following full appropriations: Humane Society $5,000; Sober Cab $2,000; Historic Buildings Maintenance $2,000.

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