After giving First State Tire, owned my Monte Niemi, additional time to come into compliance with its conditional use permit, the Isanti County Board was informed April 1 that another violation is currently taking place at the facility in order to come into compliance with the issues addressed at the previous public hearing.
“I went out there yesterday and the piles are down to 10 feet, but I have some other issues with the piles not being in the spot they are supposed to be,” said Zoning Administrator Trina Bergloff regarding her site visit March 31. “They have been moved on the property (in a way) that is not permitted as part of their site plan that was dated March 12, 2012. So, they have moved them in order to accommodate more storage bins for a future date that they plan to apply for an amendment to their conditional use permit for more tire bins.”
After some discussion, a short recess, and upon the advice of County Attorney Jeff Edblad, it was determined a decision regarding the issues addressed at the first public hearing would be delayed in order for the board to conduct another public hearing May 6 at 10 a.m. to address the new compliance issue. The decision was made by a split vote, with Isanti County Board Chair Greg Anderson and commissioners Susan Morris and Terry Turnquist voting in favor of the motion. Commissioners Mike Warring and Dave Oslund voted against the motion.
The new issue on the property is a violation of item 28 in First State Tire’s conditional use permit, which states there will be a total of 13 tire shred storage bunkers and one over-sized tire area as shown on the site plan. At this time, the tire bunker has been moved out of compliance with the site plan, according to Bergloff.
“My concern is that Mr. Niemi is playing an elaborate game of “whack-a-mole” with the Isanti County Board of Commissioners by trying to solve one problem and creating new ones in the process,” Edblad said. “I’m disappointed with Mr. Niemi and the individuals who have been guiding and providing him with advice that allow this situation to exist. It’s incredibly frustrating for this board of commissioners and this staff to have Mr. Niemi and his representatives to continue to engage in this kind of behavior.”
He explained that Bergloff needs to send First State Tire formal notice of the new violation and the new public hearing, and First State Tire has 30 days to come into compliance before that hearing.
Following the second public hearing, the board can use the evidence provided at the first public hearing, which took place March 18, and the evidence from the May 6 public hearing to make their decision regarding the business’ conditional use permit.
“I am very, very disappointed in the way we are being treated as a board by this business – just playing games, changing just so he can sneak by for another 30 days,” Warring said, asking if a final decision regarding the conditional use permit can be made immediately following the new public hearing. Assured that a decision can be made at that time, Warring added, “Alright, we should have done it the last time instead of waiting the extra 30 (days) to play this game.”
Turnquist agreed with Warring’s disappointment, stating, “I thought that in good faith he would get things in compliance and move forward with his plan, but it seems like he’s just doing whatever he does.”
Bergloff clarified that other issues addressed in the first letter March 5 were still out of compliance. She still has not received First State Tire’s Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) permit. However, she also noted that issue is due to the MPCA and not Niemi, who applied for the permit in 2018. Due to MPCA staffing issues, the permit was delayed and is currently in the public comment period.
Any violations of his conditional use permit that were addressed at the first public hearing, and which are still out of compliance at the next public hearing, can be used to justify the revocation of First State Tire’s conditional use permit following the public hearing May 6, Edblad assured Bergloff and the board.
“I’m very disappointed in Mr. Niemi and how he is doing business with us,” Morris said. “I fully intend to having a conclusion to all of this after [the May 6] public hearing. There will be no more grace time, so he’s gonna have to come into compliance or that’s it.”