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City restricts outdoor storage of vehicles

Rosemount City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of an ordinance that will limit the number of vehicles that can be stored outdoors. For urban residential areas outdoor vehicle storage will be limited to six and for rural residential areas the limit was set at 10.

Before the vote was taken several residents asked the council to reject the measure. Les Kasten, who has been at the center of the issue, called the ordinance "ridiculous." He said there are a number of people in the community that will be in violation the law.

"They're not doing anything wrong, they're just living," Kasten told the council.

This is the second time this year the city council has considered limits on outdoor vehicle storage. Earlier in the summer the council voted down an ordinance that would have set the limit at eight in all areas.

Along with setting numbers the ordinance identifies what constitutes a motor vehicle and that vehicles will be counted separately. So a trailer parked in front of a residence with two snowmobiles on it would count as three vehicles.

After the proposed ordinance was voted down, city staff brought it back to the council during several work sessions to hash out something they consider more reasonable.

Kasten, a car collector, has become the unwilling focus of the debate. Earlier in the summer more than 40 of his neighbors signed a petition asking the council to set some sort of limit on the number of cars that can be stored outdoors.

Wanting tools to respond to such complaints city staff proposed the ordinance to the city council. Community development coordinator Kim Lindquist said in addition to the Kasten property, the city has received a number of complaints over the years about similar issues.

"The council didn't raise this issue it came to us," said council member Mike Baxter before expressing his support of the ordinance.

In addition to Kasten several other residents spoke their minds. Chet Ellison told the council the ordinance doesn't serve a purpose and said he had doubts the city could enforce it.

In a letter to the council Richard Dorniden said he thought the ordinance was an example of arbitrary regulation of private citizens.

"As long as the resident is not causing problems of a safety or health nature, he should be free to enjoy the property he has purchased and is paying taxes on," Dorniden said.

While some council members said they weren't happy making the decision, hearing years of complaints and their desire to streamline the enforcement process inevitably led to the approval of the ordinance.

At previous meetings police chief Gary Kalstabakken and Lindquist told the council setting a specific number would make the enforcement process easier.

While the council wavered on what the appropriate number of vehicles would be it finally settled on six and 10 Tuesday night.

Kim Shoe-Corrigan, who was riled up after the council took public comments, told the crowd that while she hates the idea of setting such regulations, continuous complaints made council action necessary. She added that the council has to start somewhere.

"Staff has come up with something that is fair and reasonable," said Shoe-Corrigan.

To make sure the ordinance is working effectively Shoe-Corrigan asked that the council review the ordinance in a year.

The city will not actively seek out ordinance offenders. Lindquist said staff and police will enforce the new standards on a complaint basis.