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Clean up on horizon for hoarders in Hubbard County

Under the proposed solid waste ordinance, Hubbard County collectors would be required to formulate a comprehensive storm water drainage plan subject to approval by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and pay a $400 annual licensing fee. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

A new solid waste ordinance is aimed at curbing Hubbard County hoarders.

But the new ordinance, if enacted, will refer to them in a more genteel fashion: collectors.

And scroungers, the precursor to hoarders, had better clean up their act, too. It truly is illegal, and has been all along, to pilfer the contents of the solid waste transfer station one by one and move them to your back yard in the name of "recycling."

You must get permission first.

The public hearing on the proposed changes is May 4 at 9:30 a.m. in the county boardroom.

Many of those changes are housekeeping matters, said solid waste superintendent Vern Massie.

"We've upgraded it to the state statutes and rules that have changed," he said.

"We did define what a collector is," he added. "Before you were either a bona fide junkyard or you were just a problem. So we put in what a collector is so we've got a little more meat" (to enforce violations.)

And substantive changes will target residents who store vehicles, old tires, boats, motor homes, snowmobiles and junk.

And what's junk?

"Scrap copper, brass, rope, rags, batteries, paper, trash rubber debris, ferrous material, non ferrous material, inoperable and/or inoperative and/or unlicensed motor vehicles, RVs, agricultural or construction machinery" and parts, according to the existing ordinance.

The new ordinance adds: "Something of poor quality, worn or discarded articles, clutter, something of little meaning, worth or significance; worthless."

Having more than five unlicensed, unused vehicles on your lawn for more than three months is verboten.

"That's where I get into it is when they have five, six vehicles in the yard and the neighbor gets tired of looking at them," Massie said.

Under new rules, if you operate a junkyard or are classified as a collector, you must obtain a storm water permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The cost is $400 and landowners must file a comprehensive drainage plan for MPCA review and approval.

Or you must file for an exemption from the permit and prove you're worthy of one.

Massie said that could potentially eliminate some problem collectors in the county.

Another change that will affect county residents is that self-haulers of trash, branches or debris must tie down their loads or risk a citation.

"This will give the sheriff and police department a little more concrete stuff to work with," Massie noted.

Law officers respond to frequent complaints of self-haulers dropping their loads on roadways, causing traffic hazards and obstructions.

And homeowners are forbidden to keep more than two cubic yards of trash on their property for more than two weeks.

At that point, "you need to clean it up," Massie said.

Another change, addressing a chronic problem, will be the storage of old tires on your property.

"No more than 10," Massie said. "Some of these guys, each time they change their tires they must throw them back" into the woods or their yard, he surmised.

The ordinance proposal will be posted on the county's website for public review.