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Faribault County Board approves land repurchase

BLUE EARTH – The saga of a piece of tax-forfeited land in Blue Earth that had been owned by Bruce Stensland may be over, following the Faribault County commissioners meeting Tuesday.

The land in question is where Stensland operated his car repair business — Bruce’s Auto Repair — at the corner of Seventh and Rice streets. On a 3-2 vote, the county had previously denied a request from Stensland to repurchase the property.

A vote to bring the matter back to the floor passed Tuesday, and then the issue produced many minutes of debate.

“I was the one who swung the first vote,” said Commissioner Tom Loveall. “One of the concerns I had was that a process had been set up but there was no follow-through. I am glad to see Bruce is here today. I understand people and businesses run into financial difficulties.”

Stensland explained his position.

“What I am basically asking for is a second chance to retain my business,” he said.

Commissioner John Roper questioned whether the time for repurchasing the property had passed.

County Attorney Kathryn Karjala said it is her opinion the county could allow the repurchase, and that the courts have shown a great deal of leniency with timelines because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The board voted 4-1 to allow Stensland to repurchase the property on the condition he also pay a bill of about $500 from Blue Earth Light and Water.

Roper said the vote needed to be unanimous, but for now the decision stands.

In other business, Dennis Koziolek of the Planning and Zoning Commission attended the meeting virtually and updated the board on the junkyard ordinance.

“We are struggling with the ordinance and are having trouble with how we avoid penalizing farmers who might have old machinery they have kept for parts,” he explained.

Commissioner Greg Young agreed the task has not been easy.

“It is an ongoing process. We are really looking for some public input,” Young said. “One of the issues is defining what is junk and what is not.”

In another matter, Public Works director Mark Daly reported that work on County Road 16 is set to be completed by Oct. 30.

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