First, the city of Anoka declared the house at 319 Monroe St. not fit for human habitation.
But on Aug. 3, the Anoka City Council unanimously declared it a hazardous property, clearing the way for potential abatement.
According to Clark Palmer, associate planner and the city’s code enforcement technician, in May, the city gained entry to the single-family home while investigating a possible illegal rental situation.
“Staff inspected the property conditions deemed to pose an immediate threat to the health, welfare and safety of the occupants,” Palmer said.
Among a long list of items, those hazards included no electricity running to the property, electrical fixtures improperly installed, no functioning sink or bathtub in the home’s only bathroom, a large hole in the floor, multiple holes in the walls and missing spindles from the staircase.
“All constitute code violations through the Minnesota statutes,” Palmer said.
There were also about 20 cats living inside the house. Staff worked with the Anoka Police Department and its animal control officer to remove the animals.
“At the end, we had some cat feces on the floor which constitutes a health hazard,” Palmer said.
Outside the property, there are piles of refuse, the foundation is crumbling and the chimney is visibly damaged.
“The condition of that property to me has been known for a long time,” said Council Member Mark Freeburg. “I’m perplexed why it took us so long to do what we’re doing.”
Palmer said the property owners have been issued numerous administrative notices and citations.
But because it is a single-family home, city staff had to be invited inside.
“That limits our ability to get inside the property, unlike rental property that is licensed by the city which has to go through routine inspection,” Palmer said.
No one spoke at the Aug. 3 public hearing, held before the council voted to declare the property hazardous.
The owners of 319 Monroe St., registered as Donald M. Larson and Derik L. Larson, now have 20 days to acknowledge and dispute the compliance order and 30 days to address the hazards.
After that, the city can seek a legal judgement to abate the problem property.
The city has been bolstering its code enforcement efforts and Council Member Jeff Weaver said he has pushed for action on this longtime problem property.
“I think the challenge is, because it is owner occupied, there are personal property rights, so we have to make sure we dot the i’s and cross the t’s twice because they have the same rights as you and I do in our homes,” Weaver said.