Following a public hearing the week before regarding conditional use permit (CUP) violations by Terry’s Disposal that North Branch Mayor Jim Swenson described as “almost like a court trial,” the North Branch city council, during their Jan. 28 meeting, unanimously approved giving the business one last chance to come into compliance with their CUP terms.
At issue is the storage of various waste materials at the business’ address, located at 41414 Harder Avenue. According to city administrator Renae Fry, the city has observed numerous “problem materials” such as appliances, tires, electronics and other hazardous and non-hazardous waste.
Beyond that, Fry noted that Chisago County is also going through the process of ordering Terry’s to remove remnant curbside recycling material from the property since the county revoked his recyclers license back in December 2018, meaning that since that time, Terry’s was supposed to be transporting all curbside recycling he picks up to an outside location.
The agreement the council approved instructs Terry Flor, owner of the business, to meet three deadlines in order to come within compliance with the city’s CUP. The first is Flor must sign this agreement with the city by Feb. 11.
Next, Flor must perform an inventory of all the problem materials on his property and provide that tabulation to the city for a site visit verification by Feb. 28.
Fry noted that the county has given similar instructions to Flor for doing an inventory of some of the same items as the city is interested in, but their deadline was set at the end of January. However, since the city’s list is more extensive, staff felt a Feb. 28 deadline was more appropriate. At the same time, Fry said in order to do the county’s inventory, materials on the city’s inventory must be moved, so an inventory of those items should be performed at the same time.
Finally, Flor must “fully and completely remove, without exception...all identified remnant problem materials, prohibited items and the volume of any and all remaining remnant curbside recycle materials” by June 30, 2020.
According to Fry, this deadline is the same date the county provided as a deadline for removing their list of “problem materials.”
According to city attorney Patrick Doran, Flor had contacted him asking if the city would be willing to extend their deadline until Aug. 31. However, Doran told the council that if Flor couldn’t meet the county’s deadline and they have their county licenses revoked, that in itself would violate the city’s CUP.
“(Having an Aug. 31 deadline) would (only) allow them two months to get their affairs in order,” Doran said. Ultimately, if the county revokes (their license), there is a zero percent chance that Terry’s could be in compliance with the CUP.”
“Both parties (the city and county) feel it’s critically important the site be cleaned up in totality,” added Fry. “– that all of these materials be removed and be off-site.”
Consequences of revocation
In an email to the Star following the meeting, Fry said if the city revoked Terry’s CUP, that would only directly impact his ability to do business at his address.
“The actions and resulting stipulation that the council approved only relate to his ability to do business at his North Branch site,” Fry said. “For example, having it as a business address, parking trucks and other equipment, outside storage, and so on. He has a haulers license both from the city and the county, which are subject to other stipulations. He could still pick up garbage in North Branch but must take it directly to the approved transfer station.”
Unfortunately, however, Fry added that if he didn’t meet the county’s deadline, the county could revoke his county haulers license, and one of the conditions of having a city refuse hauler license is having a valid county hauler license.
“If he does not abide by the county’s stipulations, he will lose the county hauler’s license, which in effect will result in the loss of his city hauling license,” she said.
Just prior to the vote, Mayor Swenson directly spoke to the owners.
“I have been a customer for 21 years,” he began. “Truly I was convinced I saw the process of you cleaning up the site. I hope you understand that this has got to be cleaned up. And I really feel that you are going to do this. I want you to stay in business. Everybody else has turned into Waste Management and these big companies. And you are the ‘little guy’ yet. And the ‘little guy’ needs to have that chance. We had 60 people here last week, and I hope all 60 will be behind you to help you clean this up.”