Mr. Wilson is one of my favorites in large part because he reminds me of my dad. He has a variety of cool stuff and hobbies that keeps him entertained when he's not working. Mrs. Wilson is a sweet woman, a little more reserved than Mr. Wilson, but always has a friendly wave and a smile and totally tolerates my little girls coming to visit their cat (and ferret when they still had him). Another reason I love these neighbors is that when they have an issue with my family, they are willing to come discuss it with me - in person. We have spent many an afternoon/evening, chitchatting over beers on the deck or in the yard. They are kind, funny, down-to-earth people.
Recently, I noticed a city truck park on the street across from my house. The driver climbed out and walked down the street toward my neighbors' house. I found out from another neighbor that the city worker stood and took photos of my neighbors' yard and all the fun "toys" they have in the large driveway on the north-side of his almost full acre lot. We talked to Mr. Wilson and told him what we saw that day. A few days later, he went to City Hall to have a discussion with them. When he returned, he was furious.
The City told Mr. Wilson that they do not proactively enforce these rules; rather, they are reactive with enforcement, meaning that they only will attempt to enforce the ordinances if someone complains about a property owner not following the "ordinances." The fact that Mr. Wilson has lived in his house for almost fifteen years, and has kept his yard neat and tidy, has mowed the city-owned land adjacent to his property every summer (which the city only mows about twice a season), has invested in an asphalt driveway to his workshop, and Class 5 gravel for the area around his shop where he stored his large boat and various other items, including vintage wood-sided boats (one at a time) which he lovingly restored to absolute breathtaking beauty in his shop in the summers, doesn't matter to the city. He has been ordered to
|Good Example of a Vintage Chris Craft Boat|
remove all his recreational trailers but one and his small sheds (housing his lawn mowers and other yard equipment) at the back of his property in order for him to come into compliance with the ordinance.
We have lived next door to Mr. & Mrs. Wilson for almost five years. At no time has any of their "stuff" bothered us. The people on the other side of the Wilsons stay to themselves and are rarely seen; and none of the Wilson's "stuff" can be seen by them anyway as it is primarily located on our lot line. There is a city-maintained walking path that borders the back edges of all our properties, so there is the possibility that someone walking by noticed Mr. Wilson's stuff and decided to report him, or possibly, there are some new-ish neighbors who have brought their "left-coast" nanny-state ideals with them to Minnesota (and who also tend to forgo talking directly to neighbors about issues) who may have decided that it is easier to call the city and report the so-called evil-doer for breaking city rules. (This is conjecture and is only my opinion based upon previous interactions with those particular neighbors, which includes the fact that they felt the need to call the city to report people legally goose hunting in a field a mile or more away from our neighborhood.) One of my fears is that the Wilsons were caught in the "cross-fire"; - that someone reported my yard for our "infractions*" - we have kept our garbage cans in front of our garage since we moved in five years ago; we seem to have somehow acquired a plethora of bikes; I have a stack of flower pots and other garden stuff along with my wheelbarrow and some other tools sitting around my backyard shed - and the city worker, while notating our infractions, also noticed the Wilson's infractions and decided to hit us both. If that is the case, I am very sorry.
The real issue here is not the fact that there are city ordinances that need to be enforced. The issue is that the city selectively enforces the ordinances based upon one report from one neighbor or passerby. If the city feels the need to enforce the rules, then they should enforce the rules on everyone, not just on those of whom had meddling neighbors complain. This represents a giant infringement on private property rights.
Another issue that stems from this comes from the on-going Second Amendment battles around the country. Minnesota fortunately has not enacted tougher gun control (not that our DFL controlled Legislature and extreme leftwing governor haven't tried) laws like other states like Colorado, New York and California recently have. However, if Minnesota's nanny-state libs have their way, extreme gun control laws are headed our way. Recently, there have been cases in those states with the extreme gun control laws where people have not only had their 2nd Amendment Rights trampled, but also their 4th Amendment Rights ripped to shreds by the authorities. Some of these cases involve meddling neighbors who have reported their neighbors for legally owning guns. There are ad campaigns in some states encouraging people to turn in their neighbors for legally possessing a gun. If a city is willing to only enforce ordinances based upon one complaint, what is to stop them from doing the same if/when Minnesota enacts strict gun control laws?
Personally, I don't want to live in a state that doesn't respect private property rights and the 2nd Amendment and that is willing to act on a "tip" from a disgruntled or jealous neighbor. Like Mr. Wilson, we'll be looking for a new place to call home soon.
|Example of an Anti-Second Amendment Ad|
From the March 2013 Newsletter:
The city has a rule relating to the storage of trash/recycling bins – they may not be visible from adjoining properties.
Trash, yard waste, and recycling containers may be placed at the end of your driveway after 6 p.m. the night before your scheduled pickup day; containers may remain at the curb throughout collection day. At all other times, the containers must be located indoors or be fully hidden from view behind a solid fence or wall not less than 5 feet in height.
Recreational equipment storage. Recreational vehicles up to 24 feet in length, such as trailers, campers, boats, snowmobiles and RVs, may be parked or stored outdoors as follows:
• One piece of recreational equipment is allowed per dwelling unit. When recreational equipment is on a trailer, the trailer and piece of recreational equipment shall be considered as one. Measurement does not include tongue of trailer or motor (if applicable).
• Equipment may be located on any rear or side lot not within 5 feet of the lot line; it must be on concrete or blacktop.
• Equipment may be located in the front lot, on concrete or blacktop, and not within 15 feet of the curb.
• Recreational equipment may not be parked or stored on a public street.
Exterior storage.All materials and equipment – such as lawn mowers, lumber, gardening tools, etc. – must be stored within a building or be fully hidden from adjoining properties. Other items including, but not limited to, play structures, clotheslines, and grills may be visible; however, setbacks may be required and some homeowner’s association covenants may restrict them.