Burnsville sets legislative priorities

  • Article by: LAURIE BLAKE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 4, 2014 - 12:48 PM

A request to handle property enforcement itself tops the city’s legislative wish list.

Burnsville has a list of requests for the state Legislature this year, including a law against clustering group homes together and financial help to make up for the loss of landfill revenue.

At the top of the list, the city wants the authority to do its own enforcement of property maintenance codes, building codes, zoning codes, health codes, and public safety and nuisance ordinances.

The city always attempts first to work with property owners to correct violations and more than 80 percent of them are brought into compliance right away, said city spokesman Marty Doll.

But if attempts to work with property owners fail to resolve violations, the city can issue some fines for followup inspections but ultimately an uncooperative violator could receive a citation requiring a court appearance and an additional fee. Once cases make it to court, they’re out of the city’s hands.

Burnsville would like the Legislature to clarify the authority of all cities to avoid the courts and handle cases themselves.. Having the authority to issue fines at the city level would speed up enforcement and keep these matters out of the county court system, Doll said.

At the city’s request Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan and Rep. Sandra Masin, DFL-Eagan, have introduced legislation to make this authority available. Burnsville is working with the League of Minnesota Cities and the city of Lakeville to support its passage, Doll said.

Second on the city’s list of priorities is preserving the host fees Burnsville receives from the Burnsville Sanitary Landfill. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has required that household garbage be trucked first to metro area garbage burners when those facilities have capacity to receive it, making landfills the place of last resort for trash disposal.

The policy will reduce the revenue the city receives from the landfill operators and will delay redevelopment of the land around the landfill, the city maintains. Both, Burnsville believes, is justification for legislators to provide the city with host community development grants to restore lost revenue and foster redevelopment. Inver Grove Heights is in the same boat with landfills there. The two cities have jointly hired a lobbyist to promote passage of this provision.

On a similar topic, the city supports the MPCA’s efforts to close Freeway Landfill in Burnsville in an environmentally responsible way that would promote redevelopment. “The city is working with the property owners and the MPCA on a closure plan,’’ Doll said.

As a fourth initiative, the city is pursuing legislation to prevent clustering of residential care facilities.

Current law prevents clustering of the facilities only in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“Burnsville recognizes and supports the services residential care facilities provide. However, the city also has an interest in preserving balance between group homes and other uses in residential neighborhoods,” the city said in a statement on legislative priorities.

Another request from Burnsville is that the Legislature repeal a business-to-business tax on warehousing services. “Burnsville has many businesses that conduct warehousing as part of their operation. This tax is an impediment to economic development efforts in retaining and attracting valued employers.”

The mayor, members of the City Council and staff would testify at the Capitol regarding the legislative priorities if invited to do so, Doll said.

 

Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287

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