The Granada City council approved the final verbiage for publication of Ordnance titled “Ordnance -36” during the June 2020 Monthly Meeting. The vote was 4 – 0 with all in approval of the final changes.
Key changes from the decades old ordnance include:
- Enforcement of a permit fee from $5.00 to $50.00
- An annual renewal fee set for 12 months at $50.00
- Makes it a misdemeanor for failure to obtain a building permit before building started, with a fine not to exceed $1,000 or Jail for a period not to exceed 90 days or both.
- Holds all owners, architects, builders, contractors, agents, and persons or corporations or other entities employed in connection with the installation, construction, or maintenance of a building or structure in violation of the ordnance.
- Additional penalty for the enforced removal or correction of the prohibited conditions.
Changes to the permit process have been on the horizon for the counsel going as far back to 2018. Prior to the approval of the revision, the process was relatively simple although somewhat subjective. Much depended on who you may be talking too at the time.
The common understanding was a person could pay the $5.00 fee if it was even collected, supply a signed document from their neighbors attesting the change was good with them, and submit a rough drawing of what you want to build. Then, start building. The fact the neighbors approved of the change removed the liability from the City and ensured the building on the property would follow both the needs of the city as well as those close to the building site.
In 2019 this came to head and the ordnance was completely ignored. Some members of the community were told they didn’t need a permit while others stated they were not going to ask. Further, the council’s concern over external buyers coming in and extending the life of damaged properties was a deep concern. Of such worry, the City purchased at least one of these properties to discourage this action. The inconsistency reached such a fever that even between council members they couldn’t agree on the proper process and enforcement, with at least one council member providing signatures from their neighbors while other council members and townsfolk simply refused to acknowledge the need and approved or built significant structures in opposition to the neighbor’s rights and registered complaints. In all cases but one, the building permit would likely have been denied simply because the neighbors would never have signed off. Had the ordnance been followed the current stream of legal cost and time may have been eliminated completely and a need for revision unnecessary.
This inconstancy has resulted in a great deal of time and money for both the property owners and the city as each is determined to hold responsible who is liable for the noncompliance. The person that did the building or the City that issued the permit without enforcement of the ordnance. This will likely be up to the courts to make this determination.
Other factors that forced the revision include pressure from a number of townsfolks over why some were given permits with no questions asked while others were held up for months and months. It came down to who you knew on the board or what control you had over the permit approval process in the first place. Even attending the meeting or not could result in a quick or lengthy request process.
More recent has been the concern over the concrete processing land that sits in direct sight of a property owned by Council Member Ken Felion. For years now Ken has registered his issues with the dust and the noise of the facility. His complaint is how the noise at all times of the day and night are allowed and the amount of dust that collects on his property. A very similar complaint from those that live around the Maday Grain Storage. Both operations have had several complaints from the townfolk regarding the noise, smell, and damage to their cars and homes. However, unlike the Concrete crushing operation, the Maday Grain Storage was mandated in 2014 to clean up the town of fines and to install systems and process to eliminate the mess from Main Street and the operations dumping on neighbors.
Ken’s comments at town meetings have reflected his desire for ordnance changes before the next buyer is allowed to purchase the property. It is believed that the sale of this property could be pending soon. As is the rush to get something in place before this happens. These include changes to the Ordinances, Permits, and Nuisance laws as needed to prevent more of the same occurring. It is hard to tell if Ken also supports the cleanup and management of the Maday Grain Storage. Previous comments show some concerning level of hypocrisy between dumping of fines on his home and those dumped on others by Maday.
Time will tell if the changes to the permit process will even up the playing field or if the council will continue to ignore clear violations in the existing permit stipulations as well as the new revision due out the first part of next month. One thing you can be sure of, the next time you go to build you better have your checkbook out before starting.
And for those asking. Yes, the ordinance that requires your signature on changes before they can be approved by the council still remains, for now, it has an extra bite. So before you plant that tree, build that fence or add on to your deck better get the OK from the neighbors before you build.
By Larry Cain Owner and mangeing editor for the Granada Minnesota News