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Council aims to limit storage of junk vehicles

Complaints from several Rosemount residents have turned into an ordinance change. About 30 people showed up to the Rosemount City Council meeting angry Tuesday night all because of cars.

Les Kasten, a car enthusiast, has a number of old cars on his property. He likes to rebuild and sell them as a hobby. While they can appreciate a hobby, his neighbors think his yard looks like a junk yard and they want that changed.

Due to complaints city staff has received about Kasten's property and several others in the city, an ordinance amendment has been proposed that would limit the number of cars a resident can have parked outside their home.

If approved the ordinance amendment would apply to all vehicles in both urban and rural residential properties. Under the ordinance the maximum number of licensed, operable vehicles parked or stored outdoors on any residential property could not exceed eight. Also the vehicles must be owned by and for the exclusive use of the owner or occupant of the dwelling.

Amendment changes are publicly read twice and then are adopted by the city council. The second reading will occur at the July 1 city council meeting.

After city clerk Amy Domeier read the first reading of the amendment, mayor Bill Droste let the residents in attendance speak about the matter.

Kasten's neighbors one by one explained to the council that his property looked like a junk yard and that it was affecting their property values. Jim Emmer started things off, telling the council the property looked terrible and that he and his neighbors want the ordinance changed so Kasten can't keep so many cars. Emmer then gave the council a petition signed by 42 people in the neighborhood.

"We feel like (Kasten) has too many vehicles parked outside that house," Emmer told the council.

Several other neighbors added their two cents to the discussion.

"It looks more like a business than a hobby," said Sharon Mickelson, who lives in the area.

She asked the council members to make the decision as if the property were in their neighborhood.

One resident suggested the council bring it down to four operable vehicles, while another suggested they require each vehicle be insured.

Chris Vitek told the council it was the responsibility of everyone in the neighborhood to try and maintain property values.

"We have to establish what's reasonable," Vitek told the council.

As the neighbors rose and gave their opinions Kasten sat in the back obviously upset at what was being said. The two people sitting next to him often made comments as others addressed the council and made crude gestures.

After listening to what his neighbors had to say Kasten rose and shared his thoughts on the matter. Flustered, Kasten began by saying he is a car enthusiast and that part of the reason he moved to Rosemount in 2003 was because it didn't have any limits concerning cars stored outside.

He went on to say that as the city has told him about complaints he has tried to accommodate requests including paving a chunk of his property, which he said cost $20,000. Kasten said he first received a letter from the city about the cars in 2004.

The cars, which are mostly old Pontiacs, are covered and parked in an orderly fashion.

"I try to keep them covered and keep them nice," Kasten told the council.

He said he was upset his neighbors complained to the city instead of talking with him about their issues.

"Nobody had the decency to call me," Kasten scolded.

Kasten said his rights have been violated. He claimed city code enforcer John Kendall either went on his property or had one of his neighbors to take pictures of some of the cars without his permission, which led to him receiving a citation.

"It's a total violation of my rights," he said.

He also complained that last winter Kendall required him to start all of the cars to make sure they were operable. Seven of the cars did not start and he had to make arrangements to get them off the property.

After listening to what everyone had to say the council addressed the issue.

"In my mind it is an unacceptable use of that property," said council member Mike Baxter. Baxter added that a four car maximum would be too few and that insurance should not be necessary because of seasonal vehicles such as boats and motorcycles.

Council member Mark DeBettignies agreed with Kasten that his neighbors should have brought their issues up to him.

"I'm really hurting because of what's happening," DeBettignies said.

He then said that now the council is dealing with the matter, they will have to create a policy that's good for the whole city.

"We're not going to be able and please everyone," he added.

The council didn't recommend any changes to the proposed amendment and sent it on for the second reading. Acting city administrator Kim Lindquist said she hopes more residents will comment on the issue before July 1.