Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely councilors enforce blight rules against one of their own

Keith Vandervort
Posted 11/6/19

ELY – With little discussion on Tuesday night, city council members here approved a resolution declaring a rental property owned by a fellow council member to be a blight to the community. …

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Ely councilors enforce blight rules against one of their own

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ELY – With little discussion on Tuesday night, city council members here approved a resolution declaring a rental property owned by a fellow council member to be a blight to the community. Council member Paul Kess, who owns the property in question, abstained from the vote, while the six other members of the council voted for the resolution, which set specific dates for corrective action and provides for summary enforcement if the improvements are not completed in a timely manner.
Based on numerous complaints about the property at 106 E. Harvey St., the city’s building official moved to enforce the city’s blight ordinance this fall. Kess’s appeal hearing last month failed to convince any council members that sufficient progress was being made on repairing the public hazard. A subsequent re-inspection of the property on Oct. 31 convinced building official Doug Whitney to move forward with the blight enforcement.
Whitney found:
The property has been vacant for several years.
The dwelling has suffered from dilapidation.
The property has suffered from years of absence of any significant maintenance.
The roofing is failed with holes and missing shingles.
The siding and soffit has deteriorated or is missing.
Doors and windows are broken out and in a state of disrepair.
The property has junk debris in the rear yard.
The property is overgrown with volunteer brush.
In the blight resolution, Whitney said, “The blight or blighting factors create an unreasonable danger to public health, safety and welfare. The detached garage is required to be removed due to hazardous and unsafe conditions.”
Kess is also required to board or repair all broken windows and remove all loose siding by Jan. 1, 2020. He must also repair the roofing and roof sheathing by Aug. 15, 2020.
Other business
In other action, the council:
Heard from Budget Committee member Al Forsman that the 2020 city budget, currently under discussion, could reflect a one-percent decrease in the levy next year for city property taxes.
Approved a recommendation that the Fire Department tanker truck replacement be moved from 2020 to 2021 budget year.
Approved a recommendation that new HVAC system venting be installed in the five-year-old pubic library building at a cost of $3,850.
Approved the recommendation to allow the Heck Epic Cycling Race to camp at Semer’s Park on July 17-19, 2020, and to use the park’s pavilion.
Scheduled public hearings for Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. for a city land sale and vacation of public property.
Approved the mayor and council members to attend the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools annual meeting on Dec. 19 in Mt. Iron, and nominated Paul Kess to remain the city’s representative for the organization.
Approved a commercial renovation loan for the Ely Steakhouse, 216 E. Sheridan St., for $17,500 for floor replacement and other interior improvements
Authorized Premier Pyrotechnics to shoot the 2020 Fourth of July fireworks at a cost of $15,000.

ely city council

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