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February 24, 2020

1/30/2020 3:07:00 PM
Terry's Disposal site permit action tabled by city council

The North Branch City Council held a public hearing reviewing Terry’s Disposal Conditional Use Permit for outdoor storage offenses-- connected to the waste recycling and sorting part of the garbage business, located on Harder Avenue.

There was no action taken, and the permit was tabled Tuesday night, on a 5-0 vote. (Council member Brian Voss participated remotely from out-of-state.)  
Attorneys for the city and for business owner, Terry Flor,  were directed to find time in the coming days to negotiate a resolution.  Council asked for a report from legal counsel by the January 28 regular city council meeting. This could be extended by council.  

If there appears to be no agreement to resolve the violations of outdoor storage,  the council’s option will likely be a recommendation to pull the conditional use permit.

The city is not the entity that licenses Terry’s for garbage hauling.  The county regulates that.

A couple dozen of Terry’s Disposal customers who were concerned about their waste hauling service, were at the hearing.
The issue that North Branch is attempting to enforce is Flor’s outdoor storage conditions where he sorts recyclable materials.  Terry’s Disposal  accepts items like electronics, mattresses, and other waste products most haulers transport to recycling facilities to dispose of, or don’t even accept along their routes.

Flor has been in district court over the years, and previously was ordered to clean-up accumulating items, but this has fallen short.  For instance, the court imposed requirements to provide weigh station receipts for recyclables that he was ordered to no longer accumulate. His property has been inspected and quantities of items are documented in photos as not being removed.

Starting summer 2019, poor health and a leg injury have made compliance difficult, said Flor’s attorney Greg Erickson. Flor’s daughter, who runs the business with her father, testified in the council hearing and the message was;  basically father and daughter have been consumed with caregiving needs, and any extra attention the Harder Avenue site cleanup requires is going unaddressed.

North Branch is exercising authority over violations of the Conditional Use Permit;  which puts specific conditions on what can be kept at the Harder Avenue site.   

This is all somewhat complicated by the fact that when Flor went into business 44 years ago, the site was in the now defunct City of Branch, and land use standards were far different.

Flor did not contest his contemporary non-compliance and did not technically “testify.”  

Towards  the end of the hearing though, Flor spoke from his seat in the audience, saying he’s been  handling items that usually end up dumped in the country ditches.  He has provided a service his customers use and want.  His message was that he needs more time to get the Harder Avenue location into compliance, council heard.

Attorney Erickson said Flor provides waste hauling at anywhere from $8 to $12 less per month than local haulers charge. Customers will experience a “not insignificant” financial hit if they lose Terry’s as an option.  

Erickson added, everybody knows if there’s a “negative finding” (meaning loss of the CUP) that the business won’t last.

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