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home : opinion : letters to the editor May 24, 2016

10/9/2013 9:54:00 AM
Attorney questions city nuisance ordinance's constitutionality

Attorney questions city nuisance ordinance's constitutionality
It appears that the City of Windom has taken a very aggressive stance with respect to property it views as "problems."
As I write this letter, I am mindful of the run-down property belonging to the city on River Road. It has grass standing at about three feet tall.
Under its new system, all the city inspector needs is a complaint, to initiate an investigation to determine whether a violation exists. At the top, this is an ordinance subject to abuse.
Mind you, under the ordinance, the city inspector can deem one property a violation and another not a violation even if both are similarly situated and conditioned. That is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.
The property owner is given no opportunity to dispute the claim of violation at either the city inspector level or at the city council level. That is a violation of the Due Process Clause.
If the violation is not remedied, a fine and costs are levied. No opportunity is given to dispute or appeal either the fine or costs.
That is a violation of the Takings Clause and the Due Process Clause.
If the property owner disputes the initial claim of a violation, he must go through an "appeal board." Of course, this board is appointed by the mayor, is not part of the judiciary and is not part of the administrative branch.
Thus, the board has no authority under either the Constitution or the laws of this state to adjudicate an appeal from a dispute between a property owner and the city. That is another violation of the Constitution.
Since the appeal board is neither administrative nor judicial, there is no possibility of an appeal to either an administrative law judge, the District Court, or the Minnesota Court of Appeals. That's another violation of the constitutional right of due process.
Finally, since the appeal board is populated by cronies of the mayor, it is certainly not a fair and impartial tribunal. Another constitutional violation.
- Nathan A. Busch,
(Editor's note: Busch is a local attorney.)

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