Suburbanites cry: Don’t tread on me, or my trash bin

Stand up for your dumpster!

In my neighborhood, like quite a few Twin Cities suburbs, it is illegal for the trash and recycling toters to be visible to anyone from the street, except on collection day. It’s not enough to drag them back to the side of the house, or even put them behind a fence; they have to be screened.

That’s if you don’t choose the option of storing it in your garage, which no reasonable person who’s ever smelled trash in the summertime would think of doing. Monday is our collection day. We’re not allowed to put them by the street for pick-up prior to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Most of us, at least in my neighborhood, have adopted a “come and get us, coppers” attitude and, so far, we’ve not been ticketed.

But two homeowners in Burnsville fought back. Criminal charges against Scott and Mary Lundquist of Burnsville have been dismissed by a Dakota County judge.

The problem was exacerbated after the Lindquists and a few other families got notices about their violations, and then were assessed subsequent “reinspection fees” of $110, $110 and $180.

Mr. Lundquist, as it turned out, is an attorney.

“I’ve lived in Burnsville since 1981,” he tells Sun This Week. I basically grew up out there. I was embarrassed by this whole event and very annoyed. It thought it was a classic example of government getting too involved in our everyday life.”

Scott Lundquist said he never kept his yard-waste bin in the garage because “it stinks.” He said he kept it behind a shrub tree by the side of the house, but, at one point, it got blown out into the yard.

It was first seen by a city inspector Jan. 30. The first letter, from inspector Ted Oakland, was sent to the Lundquists Feb. 1.

A city court filing in the criminal case includes four letters sent to the couple. Three also cite outdoor storage of the extension ladder, which Lundquist said came from his mother’s house after she moved, and other items, including a parts washer cited in one letter. He said he didn’t have a place for the ladder in the garage (where it is now stored) and set it alongside the house next to a parked car.

“If you knew it was there, or if you looked at our house with binoculars, you could see this ladder,” Lundquist said. “If you knew it was there, you could probably keep picking it out.”

A judge ruled that the city’s ordinance is too vague and enforcement too arbitrary.

A City Council member, however, insists that “neighborhood appearance” was the number one complaint she heard when door-knocking during the last campign.