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Ask the Chief: Landscaping is first a zoning/planning issue

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.

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Q: Is there a city ordinance that makes it illegal to landscape your yard in such a way as to allow unwanted material, such as sand to flow into a neighbor's yard? Is this a RWPD matter or is it a court matter?

A: Thank you for your questions. To answer your second question first, this is more of a planning/zoning matter that needs to be investigated to determine the cause of the erosion first, which could end up in civil court.

Our first preference is to resolve the matter, prior to it becoming a legal issue. Therefore, to answer your question, I reached out to our city engineer and our planning manager. If the erosion is the result of a construction project, the city building inspector will be the starting point, if it is the result in improper grading; the planning manager is your point of contact.

The city zoning ordinance only covers construction projects and grading projects that involve moving more than 50 cubic feet of soil. If your neighbor's landscaping did not move more than 50 cubic feet, then the erosion problem is most likely a civil matter for the courts to decide if you are unable to work it out with your neighbor.

Thank you for asking the proper avenues to pursue, prior to this becoming a law enforcement issue. Hopefully this matter can be worked out with your neighbor.

Due to the number of construction or zoning concerns that can occur in our community, the Community Development Department has created a community development concierge that can be reached at 651-385-3685 to help direct your concern to the appropriate person.


1. City of Red Wing Zoning Code, Chapter 11, Division 57 and 62. Located online at: