BEMIDJI -- A full crowd at the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners meeting sent a clear message Tuesday that a new proposed ordinance would go too far.

The proposed document, in development for nearly a year, would combine two existing ordinances governing the county's solid waste operations.

Along with merging two ordinances into one for efficiency, the draft was also needed after Beltrami County purchased transfer station facilities and took over operations in Bemidji and Blackduck and other sites. Additionally, the proposed ordinance would give the county more power to hold people accountable if individuals misused facilities and/or don't follow rules.

One of the changes in the ordinance would require contractors to ensure that hazardous waste and special waste are removed prior to demolition. Special waste can include appliances, electronic equipment, tires and fluorescent bulbs, according to the ordinance.

Additionally, for junk yard purposes, the ordinance would set limits on collections and require financial assurances for clean-up costs.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

However, several members of the public expressed issues with the authority given to the county's solid waste department. Many of those in opposition, including Wells Technology President and CEO Andy Wells, said the ordinance goes too far in giving department officials the ability to inspect property without a warrant and the authority to issue citations.

District 5 Commissioner and Board Chair Jim Lucachick shared those concerns in his comments.

"We do want to do the right thing, we have problems and we've seen those problems," Lucachick said. "But I think you're taking a shotgun approach, and it's affecting all of the people sitting in here. We want to target some of those problems, but we're taking too broad of a stroke, and it will impact the business people here."

Along with the department's potential authority in the draft ordinance, residents also shared concerns over whether the document would find farming, timber and industrial equipment as acceptable, or if it would need to be removed in the case its seen as junk. While county staff did say agricultural equipment is allowed to be outside on an owner's property, though, people in the audience were skeptical on the department choosing what's acceptable.

There was some support Tuesday for the proposed ordinance, as well. For example, Jim Kramer, a member of the Grace Lake Watershed Improvement Association, supported changes to clarify and strengthen enforcement of present rules.

At the end of the discussion, the board had a consensus to incorporate feedback from the meeting in the re-visioning process and hold another public hearing in the future.

"I think it's warranted for us to go through all of the comments we've had tonight and to hold another hearing after we've put together a revised draft," District 1 Commissioner Craig Gaasvig said. "We'll be able to see then how people are responding to what's been changed."

The full proposed ordinance is available for reading at the county's website, http://www.co.beltrami.mn.us/.