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Emily resident responds to council discussion

This letter is in response to the Jan. 29 Echo Journal story with the headline, Emily: Council discusses property maintenance amendment. The article states that "the council was displeased that Leckband had used the city logo with no prior knowle...

This letter is in response to the Jan. 29 Echo Journal story with the headline, Emily: Council discusses property maintenance amendment.

The article states that "the council was displeased that Leckband had used the city logo with no prior knowledge or approval by the city. Council added that any bills received in which Ms. Leckband had made charges to the city for discussions with the attorney or similar vendors, she would be billed."

Both of these assertions are false. The facts are as follows:

In August 2013, a public forum was held during council to discuss a petition to repeal a nuisance ordinance adopted by council in July. The ordinance was actually a template obtained by the city attorney from the League of Minnesota Cities website, meant to be adapted to meet specific needs.

However, the committee presented it unchanged, with broad wording giving the city a scary amount of power, with draconian penalties such as $1,000 fines and imprisonment.

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After much discussion, the council finally agreed to repeal it. At that meeting, I stated there were better forms of this type of ordinance based on the International Property Maintenance Code, in use by nearby cities. The council agreed to form a new committee, open to anyone.

After eight months and many hours, a Property Maintenance Ordinance was created that was reasonable and appropriate for a small, rural city. We also adapted an Administrative Citation Ordinance, intended to promote compliance rather than court fees.

At the April 14, 2014, council workshop, the city clerk was asked to produce the forms necessary to administer the ordinances. When they remained undone after a couple months, I was asked by the former mayor to create these templates instead.

Basing them on standard forms in use in other cities, I put the city logo at the top of the form. Before doing so, I called the city clerk and asked if she had a jpeg I could use for this purpose. She said she did not, and suggested the website, from which I copied it.

At no time did I appropriate city property. Both clerk and mayor were aware of what I was doing and why, as documented in the May city council meeting minutes.

In July 2014, I submitted these template forms to the city by email.

At the December council meeting, a resident requested the city create additional items for enforcement, despite these being already contained in the template forms. I then read a notice in this paper that a "Notice and Order to Abate Nuisance" form was proposed for adoption as an amendment to the PM Ordinance.

I obtained a copy from the city clerk, who stated it was in the city attorney's office for review. I was dismayed to see the notice had many significant errors, including referencing the wrong Minnesota state statute.

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As I could not be present, I documented the issues in an email to council and included the template forms, which I copied to the city attorney. At NO TIME have I spoken to the city attorney regarding this, nor have I "made charges to the city." All the work I did was on a volunteer basis, and no charges been incurred by the city at my request.

It is disappointing and hurtful that the city council has decided to publicly vilify and exclude me, but what I know is this: The ordinances created are fair and appropriate, and all necessary tools for enforcement have been complete since July 2014.

I hope the council will finally do what is in the best interest of the residents and enforce the ordinance. All of us have a vested interest in a more beautiful Emily.

(Laura A.C. Leckband is a certified Certified Building Inspector, Ltd, State of Minnesota.)

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