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Court orders NR property owner to clean up land

Judge Howard Cameron has ordered the clean-up of a New Richmond business.

But the St. Croix County order from the court stopped short of shutting down the commercial property owned by Vernon Borst, which has been a thorn in the side of city officials and residential neighbors for years.

The order comes following a court trial in early July, where Borst's attorney argued that the business helped to provide supplemental income for Borst. Attorney Warren Brandt claimed the city was following through with a campaign to put Borst out of business, even though the current zoning on the property allows for the sale of used and salvaged goods.

City officials, however, called the commercial property at 648 W. Fourth St. a nuisance and a health hazard. Borst had previously been cited some 40 times by police for alleged violations of the city's nuisance and public health ordinances. In a previous jury trial, Borst was found guilty of 35 violations and ordered to pay the associated fines.

In his 11-page decision, dated Aug. 25, Cameron agreed that Borst's property fell under the category of a public nuisance.

"The property as it sits ... substantially annoys the neighbors and offends the public morals and decency," he wrote.

Using photographs provided by the city, Cameron outlined each specific nuisance and public health violation on the property.

Responding to the numerous areas of concern:

• Cameron ordered Borst to clean up stacked wood, scrap metal and other items that could serve as a breeding ground for vermin.

• He ordered the removal of junk vehicles, mattress springs, grills, plastic pails, junk stoves, trailers, motorcycles, carpeting, a sink, metal siding, a go-cart, tires, boats, a gas can, bikes and more.

• He ordered the mowing of grass and weeds that have grown up among the displayed items, and noted that Borst should mow once every two weeks at a minimum to keep the weed growth down.

• Cameron ordered the removal of several items that he felt pose a safety risk to children who could wander onto the property.

• The items that were allowed to remain on the property were ordered to be displayed in such a way that it would appear that business was being conducted at the site. Any items remaining on display must be in working order, Cameron added.

• If items need to be covered for outside storage, Cameron noted they must be covered by tarps that are not torn or worn out.

Cameron's order also indicated that Borst would not be allowed to continue his business after Thanksgiving and that all items must be removed from the property or placed inside the building throughout the winter months. The order also will allow Borst to reopen his business in the spring, but not before April 1. Borst had previously indicated that he did not conduct business at the New Richmond location during the winter months.

Borst was given 10 days to comply with the order. It appeared some of the items outlined in the order were completed by Monday, Aug. 31.

"It is strongly suggested that Mr. Borst visit area businesses in New Richmond to see how well-kept places of business look," Cameron added, "how the items are lined neatly in rows and how these businesses present items for sale."

Cameron warned that if Borst did not follow the terms of the order, the matter could be brought before the court in the future for modification.

"If the order is not complied with, then the court will know that Mr. Borst is not in the business of selling items," he wrote.

On top of the decision and order, Cameron ordered Borst to pay the costs and attorney's fees of the City of New Richmond resulting from the legal action. The city was directed to submit an itemized bill by Sept. 15.