Debris pile could lead to new law

By Jeffrey Pieters

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Is it reasonable for a Dumpster-sized trash container to sit, mostly filled, in a neighborhood driveway for six months?

Although it violates no local or state laws, most Rochester City Council members say "no."

So do neighbors of a property at 726 Eighth Ave. S.E., the subject of a public hearing Monday.


"The Dumpster has been 20 feet from my kitchen door for six months," said Keri Peters. "If you can’t help me, I need to know who can. This is not right."

Council members directed City Attorney Terry Adkins to draft a new law for their review in two weeks. The ordinance would slap a time limit on the big trash bins.

The house, a longtime neighborhood eyesore, was bought in June by South Minnesota House Buyers, a business that buys dilapidated properties, fixes and resells them.

The trash container holds mostly construction debris from roofing and siding projects.

Council member Ed Hruska classified the trash container issue as "a lack of common courtesy."

Council President Dennis Hanson, who’s been in contact with neighbors and the business owner, Chris Gilmore, described the situation as seeming like "kind of a game."

Gilmore did not attend the public hearing. Hanson said his impression of Gilmore is that he has frustrations with the neighbors and is dragging his feet when it comes to finishing the project or removing the trash container.

"For whatever reason, there’s friction over there," Hanson said.


Everything’s legal

Nothing to do with the project is illegal. The owner didn’t start any work triggering a permit requirement. There’s nothing in the city codes requiring that the work be completed at a certain speed. Because what’s in the container is largely construction debris, it doesn’t fall under the requirements of any county health law nor does it violate the solid waste ordinance.

The owner is billed by the number of times he must empty it, so he has incentive to keep it as long as he can, officials said.

"It’s something similar to what you would find at a lot of construction sites," said Ron Boose, Building Safety Department director.

But few people enjoy living next to construction sites.

"It’s not whether I like things or not," said council member Bob Nowicki. "It’s what’s the law.

"I’m hesitant to start putting time limits on how long someone has to have their house painted, things like that."

Until it passes an ordinance, the only power the city council has is the power of persuasion.


Said Hanson: "When you (Peters) talk to me, I talk to him (Gilmore) to make sure he knows we have regular contact." Hanson said he would "strongly encourage" Gilmore to remove the container soon.

The public hearing was continued to the Nov. 17 meeting. Gilmore will be invited to attend, Hanson said.

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