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Council revives vehicle storage ordinance

The Rosemount City Council dug up some old bones Tuesday night that some in the community had hoped would stay buried. For the second time this summer the council held a first reading for an ordinance pertaining to the outdoor storage of vehicles.

Staff presented a modified version of an ordinance that failed to get council approval in July. With the changes the council seemed a little more inclined to pass it but not much.

As it is written the new ordinance would limit the number of vehicles that can be stored outdoors to five in urban areas and 10 in rural areas. Staff also went through and modified the definition of vehicles to include some motor powered vehicles that were not previously listed. An additional amendment clarifies how vehicles will be counted, stating that each vehicle will be counted separately.

So if a trailer, parked in front of a residence, has two snowmobiles on it, it would count as three vehicles.

While some of the residents in the crowd would have loved to express their opinion on the matter, mayor Bill Droste kept the conversation to the council. In a later interview he said the council had heard from most of the residents in the crowd and that their views had most likely not changed.

The council voted down the previous ordinance because they could not agree on an appropriate number of vehicles to allow on any given property. Council members Kim Shoe-Corrigan, Phillip Sterner and Mark Debettignies voted against the ordinance. Droste and council member Mike Baxter voted in favor.

Community development director Kim Lindquist said the city has received continuing complaints about certain properties so staff brought the issue back to the council. While most neighboring cities don't have a specific number in their ordinances Lindquist said staff advocated setting a number because it would make enforcement easier.

Police chief Gary Kalstabakken agreed with Lindquist.

"A number makes it simple," said Kalstabakken.

During an August work session the council members agreed that five vehicles for urban areas and 10 for rural areas was appropriate. However, some seemed to waver a bit on Tuesday night.

Shoe-Corrigan expressed concern the council was enacting too much government by passing such an ordinance.

Droste also expressed some reservations about the number five being chosen in the urban areas and suggested six might be more appropriate.

Baxter then brought the discussion back to the issues instead of the numbers.

"I think this is one of those growth issues we need to deal with as a city council," Baxter said. "Because numbers are arbitrary isn't a reason not to act."

Despite some misgivings the council approved the first reading 4-1 with Sterner voting against. A second reading and possible ordinance approval will be held during the Oct. 7 city council meeting.

Complaints from neighbors of several properties in the city led to council getting involved. Specifically people living in the Danbury Way neighborhood complained about property owned by Les Kasten, a car enthusiast. Kasten has a number of old cars on his property. He rebuilds and sells the cars as a hobby.

His hobby, neighbors charged, made his property look like a junk yard. During meetings in June and July for the first ordinance, which would have limited the number of vehicles stored outside to eight throughout the city, many of Kasten's neighbors spoke in favor of a limit.

Kasten adamantly spoke against any type of limit, saying the reason he moved to Rosemount was so he could pursue his hobby.

Other business

In other business the city council approved amendments to the city's code that will restrict trapping within the city limits. Trapping will be permitted within in the city where bow hunting is currently allowed, specifically on parcels of at least 2.5 acres that are zoned rural residential or agricultural.

New rules in the city's ordinance will prohibit trapping within 50 feet of any city, county or state land. This restriction will include public roadways and 50 feet will be measured from the curb or edge of the street. In areas zoned rural residential trapping cannot be done within 25 feet of any property line.

The amended city code also puts restrictions on the type and size of traps used. Snare traps are prohibited. Leg hold traps larger than #2 or conibear type with a jaw spread larger than 6 ? inches are prohibited as well.

Baited traps must be set in a cubby with the trap inserted at least seven inches from the front of the cubby. The opening can be no more than 50 square inches so larger dogs can not get to them.

The amendment to the city code does not apply to quick kill traps designed to kill rates, mice, gophers or moles. In addition the amendment does not apply to live trapping.

Amendments to the code were made after a local dog was killed in a trap as her owner was walking her.