Burnsville responds to complaints over city code fines

Briggitte Streit has lived in Rambush Estates for 25 years, but it was only this summer that she learned she was breaking all kinds of city codes. One of the violations: the mere existence of her carport.

"The previous [Rambush Estates] manager even helped me and my friend put it up," Streit said of her now miscreant carport. She received three out of 150 code violations that were recently handed out in the Burnsville mobile home park.

Burnsville officials say with the creation of a new code enforcement department three years ago, they now make the rounds to every home in the city to make sure everyone is in compliance.

STORY- Fight brewing over city fines in Burnsville, Minn.

“This is not a ‘gotcha’ situation, this is about making the city a better place to live. A better community,” said Chris Forslund who is the code enforcement coordinator for Burnsville.

"These codes have been in effect for a long time, and all of a sudden after 30 years of them not being addressed, I can understand it would be a shock,” he continued. "The biggest issues are minor cosmetic issues for the most part."

That comes as little consolation to many of the residents – some of whom are on a fixed income.

"Most of us, we're seniors and we live on our social security and that's it," Streit said of the park’s residents.

“If you're having a hardship, great, we'll talk about. There has been no situation where we haven't been willing to talk to people and find out what's going on," Forslund said.

Wednesday night park residents met with a lawyer who is representing them pro bono in their fight with the city. The lawyer claims Burnsville is violating state laws by trying to impose city code on private property.

“It's not a gated community, it doesn't say I can't come in,” Forslund said of the residents’ claim. "It's part of the city, and that is our domain for operating."

Skeptical neighbors, some of whom have been threatened with a fee if changes aren’t made to their property, look to the $450,000 of the city’s budget that comes from fines and think they are being targeted.

Forslund says that is not the case, they just want the residents to clean up their property.

"Our first notices are intended to be exactly that. They're to let people know that there is potential for issues. We're giving them time to do something about it."