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Ask the Chief: Clean up your neighborhood, build rapport

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman

"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Q: With spring here, snow melting, etc., most people pick up trash that was buried or trapped in the snow and responsibly dispose of it. Unfortunately, my neighbors don't clean up after themselves, and already this spring they have trash blowing into my yard as it melts and frees from the snow.

Is there someone I can contact about the mess? Or do I just keep picking it up as it blows into my yard daily?

A: Your concern is shared by a number of residents every spring, having a nice looking yard/property is important to crime prevention efforts, it sends a message that people care about their neighborhood, and will report problems (known as the broke windows theory).

The best way to solve this problem is to develop a positive relationship with your neighbors. The Neighborhood Watch Program is a great way to establish these positive relationships not only with your neighbors but with city staff as well.

For example, we can schedule a meeting in your neighborhood to discuss spring cleanup for your neighborhood. Knowing your neighbors help make your neighborhood and the community a safer and more enjoyable place to live.

To learn more about the Neighborhood Watch program, please call Community Service Officer Tim Bohmbach at 651-267-2609 and he can work with you to help start a program in your neighborhood.

However, I also know that some individuals can be very defensive regarding their lack of property maintenance, in that situation I would like to encourage you to report your trash/junk concern to Bohmbach and he will work with your neighbor to help solve the trash issue. Be prepared to provide your name and contact number, the specific location of the issue, including the house number and street name, and a detailed description of the problem.

If you fear that you could be retaliated against, advise him or the responding officer of your fears and that you wish to remain anonymous.

Following is a summary of two primary City Ordinances on this topic, there is more violations listed in these codes, so please call if you have further questions.

SECTION 10.21. JUNK ITEMS STORED ON PUBLIC OR PRIVATE PROPERTY.

Subd. 1. Definitions. For purposes of this section, these terms shall have the following meanings:

1. "Abandoned Motor Vehicle" — A motor vehicle that has remained illegally outdoors on public property within the City for a period of more than forty-eight (48) hour or has remained for a period of more than forty-eight (48) hours on private property without consent of the person in control of such property or in an inoperable condition such that it has no substantial potential for further use consistent with its usual functions, unless it is kept in an enclosed garage or storage building. It shall also mean a motor vehicle voluntarily surrendered by its owner to the City or a duly authorized agent of the City.

2. "Junk Motor Vehicle" — A motor vehicle that is located outdoors on property in the City that meets any of the following criteria shall be defined as a junk vehicle:

a. Any motor vehicle that is partially dismantled.

b. Any motor vehicle that is a source of repair or replacement parts for other vehicles.

c. Any motor vehicle that lacks vital component parts.

d. Any motor vehicle that is not currently registered and properly licensed for operation.

3. "Junk" — any worn out or discarded materials or items which are no longer used for the purposes for which they were manufactured or made, including, but not limited to, abandoned or junk motor vehicles or parts thereof, motor vehicle waste, household appliances or parts thereof, tools, building materials, tin cans, glass, furniture, mattresses, box springs, crates, cardboard, tires, or any other unsightly debris, brush or materials, the accumulation of which may have an adverse effect upon the neighborhood or property values, health, safety, or general welfare of the public.

SECTION 10.24. MAINTENANCE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY.

Subd. 1. It is the primary responsibility of any owner or occupant of any lot or parcel of land to maintain any weeds or grass growing thereon at a height of not more than six inches; to remove all public health or safety hazards therefrom; to install or repair water service lines thereon; and to treat or remove insect-infested or diseased trees thereon.

Subd. 2. If any such owner or occupant fails to assume the primary responsibility described in Subdivision 1 of this Section, and after notice given by the Public Works Director has not within seven days of such notice complied, the City may cause such work to be done and the expenses thus incurred shall be a lien upon such real estate. After an initial citing for non-compliance, property becoming non-compliant, after the first notice, shall be cause for immediate action without notice to bring the property into compliance. The City Clerk shall certify to the County Auditor of Goodhue County a statement of the amount of the cost incurred by the City. Such amount together with interest shall be entered as a special assessment against such lot or parcel of land and be collected in the same manner as real estate taxes. The City shall set a fee for each out-of-compliance parcel by Ordinance, and said fee shall cover administrative costs in addition to any costs incurred in the cleanup and maintenance work that the City causes to be completed.

Resources:

1. City of Red Wing Spring Cleanup: https://www.red-wing.org/solid-waste-events.html

2. Goodhue County A-Z Gargabe Guide:

https://www.co.goodhue.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/1088

3. Minnesota State Statutes 115A.99: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes?id=115A.99&year=2017&keyword_type=al...

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