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Kandiyohi County Commissioners agreed Thursday to allow the owner of the former Valley Flea Market on state Highway 23 south of Spicer one more month to clean up the storm-damaged site. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Deadline extended for cleanup of county eyesore

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WILLMAR -- The owner of a storm-damaged building that housed many years' worth of flea market items was given another month to clean up the mess.

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The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners reluctantly agreed Thursday to give Thomas Block until Dec. 31 to clean up the site of the former Valley Flea Market, located on state Highway 23 just south of Spicer.

If the debris and hazardous structure is not gone by the end of the month, the county will clean up the property, haul everything to the landfill and assess the abatement charges back to Block.

The property had been in disarray for years, with flea market items stored inside and outside the long metal building.

When a storm this spring tore off much of the roof, it exposed the interior to the elements and to the eyes of motorists along the busy four-lane highway.

Commissioner Dennis Peterson said he had complaints all summer about the appearance of the property, but it wasn't until August that a formal complaint was filed with the county.

Even if properties are in violation of county zoning ordinances, action is not initiated unless a citizen makes a nuisance complaint.

Peterson said he had promised his constituents the property would be taken care of by Nov. 1 and they weren't going to be happy about looking at it any longer.

The flea market was owned and operated by former Kandiyohi County Commissioner Stan Block, who died in 2008.

His son, Thomas Block, pleaded with the commissioners for more time to clean up the property.

"It took my dad longer than two months to fill it up," said Block, who told the commissioners he's been working on the project by himself while running a business in another town.

"I'm doing the best I can to clean it up," he said, while taking a jab at Peterson. "Dennis Peterson was friends with my father. He knew what my father was doing down there."

Block said there are valuable items yet to be salvaged from the building that can be sold. He said he doesn't have the money to bulldoze the property and said the county assessment would simply add to the already high property taxes on the land.

In its report, the county said the partial and complete collapse of the roof and walls resulted in a "dangerous structure" and a "hazard" that could cause injury to someone on the property.

Block was initially given until Nov. 1 to remedy the situation but Jeff Bredberg, director of Kandiyohi County Environmental Services, granted him an extension to Nov. 18.

An inspection on that date revealed some progress but the property was far from cleaned up, which resulted in a nuisance hearing on Thursday.

County Zoning Officer Gary Geer recommended that the county conduct an asbestos survey and remove and dispose of the structure and solid waste inside and around the building.

But the commissioners agreed the county may not have the time to get the job done in the near future, especially with winter weather and potential snow removal responsibilities, so that they agreed to let Block use the additional time.

Whatever is not cleaned up by Dec. 31 will be removed by the county.

In other action:

n The commissioners approved an ordinance amendment that sets a price of $1.10 for every transaction made at a pawn shop located in the county, outside city limits. The fee will cover costs for participating in the statewide automated pawn system that's used to track stolen goods.

n The commissioners approved deferment of special assessments on two properties for the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District project on Diamond Lake because of financial hardship. Senior citizens and disabled residents whose income is below the poverty level are automatically deferred from paying special assessments. Although the two property owners who appealed the assessment had income that was slightly above the poverty rate, they told the commissioners that the additional costs would be too great a financial burden to bear at this time. The full assessment and accrued interest must eventually be paid.

WILLMAR -- The owner of a storm-damaged building that housed many years' worth of flea market items was given another month to clean up the mess.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners reluctantly agreed Thursday to give Thomas Block until Dec. 31 to clean up the site of the former Valley Flea Market, located on state Highway 23 just south of Spicer.

If the debris and hazardous structure is not gone by the end of the month, the county will clean up the property, haul everything to the landfill and assess the abatement charges back to Block.

The property had been in disarray for years, with flea market items stored inside and outside the long metal building.

When a storm this spring tore off much of the roof, it exposed the interior to the elements and to the eyes of motorists along the busy four-lane highway.

Commissioner Dennis Peterson said he had complaints all summer about the appearance of the property, but it wasn't until August that a formal complaint was filed with the county.

Even if properties are in violation of county zoning ordinances, action is not initiated unless a citizen makes a nuisance complaint.

Peterson said he had promised his constituents the property would be taken care of by Nov. 1 and they weren't going to be happy about looking at it any longer.

The flea market was owned and operated by former Kandiyohi County Commissioner Stan Block, who died in 2008.

His son, Thomas Block, pleaded with the commissioners for more time to clean up the property.

"It took my dad longer than two months to fill it up," said Block, who told the commissioners he's been working on the project by himself while running a business in another town.

"I'm doing the best I can to clean it up," he said, while taking a jab at Peterson. "Dennis Peterson was friends with my father. He knew what my father was doing down there."

Block said there are valuable items yet to be salvaged from the building that can be sold. He said he doesn't have the money to bulldoze the property and said the county assessment would simply add to the already high property taxes on the land.

In its report, the county said the partial and complete collapse of the roof and walls resulted in a "dangerous structure" and a "hazard" that could cause injury to someone on the property.

Block was initially given until Nov. 1 to remedy the situation but Jeff Bredberg, director of Kandiyohi County Environmental Services, granted him an extension to Nov. 18.

An inspection on that date revealed some progress but the property was far from cleaned up, which resulted in a nuisance hearing on Thursday.

County Zoning Officer Gary Geer recommended that the county conduct an asbestos survey and remove and dispose of the structure and solid waste inside and around the building.

But the commissioners agreed the county may not have the time to get the job done in the near future, especially with winter weather and potential snow removal responsibilities, so that they agreed to let Block use the additional time.

Whatever is not cleaned up by Dec. 31 will be removed by the county.

In other action:

- The commissioners approved an ordinance amendment that sets a price of $1.10 for every transaction made at a pawn shop located in the county, outside city limits. The fee will cover costs for participating in the statewide automated pawn system that's used to track stolen goods.

- The commissioners approved deferment of special assessments on two properties for the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District project on Diamond Lake because of financial hardship. Senior citizens and disabled residents whose income is below the poverty level are automatically deferred from paying special assessments. Although the two property owners who appealed the assessment had income that was slightly above the poverty rate, they told the commissioners that the additional costs would be too great a financial burden to bear at this time. The full assessment and accrued interest must eventually be paid.

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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