A nuisance property that the Mitchell City Council recently authorized to be demolished resurfaced during Tuesday’s meeting after the property owner claimed they were unaware of the planned demolition.

According to City Attorney Justin Johnson, the 414 S. Montana St. home was issued an order to correct in late December due to the magnitude of unsanitary conditions inside the home. Due to the property owner failing to adequately correct the nuisance conditions within the 14 day window given by the city, the City Council approved a resolution during the Jan. 21 meeting that cleared the way for the city to demolish the house on Feb. 11. However, Johnson said the property owner contacted him on Feb. 10, claiming they were unaware it was going to be demolished and refused to leave.

The nuisance property update was a discussion item on the agenda, therefore the council did not take action.

“They said they didn’t know the building was going to be demolished and wanted an opportunity to clean it up,” Johnson said. “I told them at that time, we were not going to proceed with the demolition immediately and I would bring it to the council for discussion purposes.”

In light of the recent revelations regarding the nuisance property, Johnson plans to initiate a civil lawsuit to ask a judge for an order of abatement. Johnson said that would minimize the city’s risk for any potential claims against the city of Mitchell.

“By statute, we have the right to go in and do this, but we’re really just trying to play it safe by proceeding with a civil suit,” Johnson said, noting it would also minimize the city having to forcibly remove the gentleman from the structure to carry out the demolition.

At the Jan. 21 council meeting, Johnson said the property owner worked with local law enforcement to have some animals removed from the home. Despite making efforts to correct some of the nuisance issues, Johnson said the conditions were so severe that, “there wasn’t anything that could be done to salvage the house.” According to Johnson, the city’s water service has been disconnected from the home.

City Council member John Doescher urged the city to move forward with the demolition project in a timely manner to eliminate the potential of an elongated process like the issues that arose with the former property owner of the Third Avenue and Main Street building, which was recently razed after several years of courtroom battles between the city and the former property owner.

“I would hate to see this become a Third and Main issue where it takes years to get this done, and looking at the pictures it is a necessary issue,” Doescher said. “I advocate for getting it done.”

Johnson responded to Doescher’s concern, reiterating he doesn’t foresee an elongated process to resolve the nuisance property.

“I don’t see this being a long, drawn-out process. What I told the property owner is, ‘I will be proceeding through a civil lawsuit, and if he manages to get it cleaned up before we get the order to tear it down, then we will reevaluate the situation,’” Johnson said. “If at the time the we get the order it’s still a nuisance, then I have all intentions with proceeding with demolition.”

Speedy Taxi

A little over a year after being denied a vehicle for hire permit to operate a taxi service, the Mitchell City Council approved Wayne Feistner’s application for Speedy Taxi, LLC to be back in business.

After the council’s denial of Feistner’s vehicle for hire permit in early January of 2019, Johnson said Speedy Taxi filed a lawsuit against the city.

“We ultimately reached a settlement agreement on that, which included that Speedy Taxi be permitted to reapply for a new license an application,” Johnson said. “If the council wants to approve the license, there will need to be a couple of conditions attached to that as part of the settlement agreement.”

Among the the conditions stipulated that Dustin Feistner, Wayne’s son, could not operate for Speedy Taxi in the 2020 calendar year. Dustin Feistner was arrested on Aug. 7, 2019, for alleged involvement in two pursuits, during which he was accused of nearly hitting multiple law enforcement officers in Sanborn County. Prior to the recent Aug. 7, 2019, arrest, Feistner received a handful of complaints from community members, citing dangerous driving habits and poor business practices that he previously denied at past council meetings.

City Council member Steve Rice said the taxi service’s past history of complaints speaks for itself, but he backed the approval of the taxi company’s permit.

Considering local vehicle for hire service’s licenses are issued annually by the City Council, Johnson said each year’s renewal would allow for the council to include conditions that the taxi company must follow.

Consent agenda

The following items were considered as part of the consent agenda:

  • Approved the minutes of the Feb. 3 council meeting and the Jan. 27 Planning Commission meeting.

  • Approved department reports.

  • Approved the following raffle permits: Gertie Belle Rogers School PTA with the drawing to be held on March 28; Heartland Quilt Guild with the drawing to be held on Oct. 18, 2020; Mitchell Technical Institute Power Sports Program with the drawing to be held on Dec. 3, 2020.

  • Set the date for the following bid openings: Feb. 28, 2020, for rock chips Project No. 2020-10; Feb. 28, 2020, for petroleum products Project No. 2020-13; March 11, 2020, for James Valley Community Center drive up window and parking lot improvement Project No. 2019-7.

  • Approved permit for Dakota Wesleyan University’s Blue and White Days homecoming parade that will be held Sept. 26, 2020.

  • Approved request to accept South Dakota Department of Transportation 5339 transit funds for hardware for office computers.

  • Approved request to accept South Dakota Department of Transportation 5339 transit funds for hardware for software.

  • Approved request to accept South Dakota Department of Transportation 5339 transit funds for hardware for surveillance security cameras.

  • Approved request to close Main Street on March 21 for the Junior Achievement Chicken Chase 5K and Fun Run.

  • Approved temporary road closure on March 15-28 for prescribed burn on West Harmon Drive from 407th Avenue to Canal Drive.

  • Approved Feb. 18, 2020 pay estimates.

  • Approved bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires.

Other business

  • Recited the Pledge of Allegiance, received invocation from Northridge Baptist, roll call, heard citizens’ input.

  • Approved consent agenda.

  • Met as Board of Adjustment.

  • Held hearing and approved the following application: Brenda Ziegler’s application for a conditional use permit to operate a lodging house at the property located at 520 E. Sixth Ave., legally described as lot 12 and East 45’ of lot 11, block 15, Burr’s addition, city of Mitchell. The property is zoned R2 Single Family Residential District.

  • Reconvened as City Council.

  • Approved to award a quote to trap and remove minnows from the wastewater treatment lagoons, Project No. 2020-18.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2020-09, a plat of lots 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, block 6, MLC addition, and a portion of West Pine Avenue, a subdivision of lots 4A and 4, block 4, Morningview Addition to the city of Mitchell.

  • Tabled Friends of Firesteel’s request for a contract with Maximizing Excellence to begin the first phase of fundraising efforts. The request asks the city of Mitchell to match funds in the amount of $16,000, which would come from the contingency funds. The first phase is part of Friends of Firesteel’s quest to raise $3 million to restore water quality in Lake Mitchell.