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Clean up on foreclosures costing city

The Luverne City Council heard no negative public comments regarding the rezoning of property on Rolling Street from a business area to a residential area Monday evening.

A public hearing was held at 4:30 p.m. Monday for citizens to voice concerns about the rezoning of Larry Coggins’ property, which is located behind the old Bonus Center. Coggins is planning to put a modular home on the property, and the Luverne Planning Committee had already given its approval.

“We don’t allow trailers in the city of Luverne,” Mayor Joe Rex Sport said. “The ones that are here were grandfathered in.”

Coggins’ plans for a manufactured home to be placed on the property were not quite the same, however, Sport said.

“Those don’t look like a regular trailer,” he said.

Resident Frances Nichols was present and did not object to the rezoning.

“It would be an improvement because somebody would be there to take care of that field and the yard,” Nichols said. “I would be glad to see it done.”

There were no public comments against the rezoning issue. During the regular meeting, Mayor Sport said the Council now needed to draft a resolution that would be voted on at the next regular Council meeting.

In other actions, the Council approved a motion to extend the water tank project for 26 more calendar days with a finish date near Sept. 10.

Councilmember Charlie Johnson reported that the concession stand at E.L. Turner Park that had been broken into had been repaired. Nothing was taken because the room was empty.

City Engineer Morris Tate said that the Luverne Airport had two planes in the hangar that were unaccounted for and two more planes were being repaired that shouldn’t be located inside the hangar. Mayor Sport said that he would look into the incident.

Luverne Assistant Fire Chief W.A. Neal reported that several homes around the city had been foreclosed or repossessed, and the city has to pay to clean up the yards.

“We’re having trouble getting responses from repo places on these houses, or the owners have moved out so they don’t care what happens to them, and no one is taking responsibility for them,” Neal said.

City attorney Mike Jones said the city could condemn the property and then sell it, even if it’s owned by a government authority.

“We can dispose of it then and pay off the mortgage if necessary,” Jones said.

“Well, this is a growing problem all around town,” Neal said.

Neal reported that Celia Duke’s property on West Third Street was burned Monday morning; now the city will have to determine the costs of properly removing the broken asbestos pieces that remain at the site.

In other business, the Council approved a motion to accept a zoning request by Todd Pittman for 273 acres south of Luverne. The request is to rezone the land from residential to business. A public hearing will be set for this purpose.