Moody County is taking the owner of a salvage business to court to shut the business down because it is out of compliance with county ordinances.
Bernie Opland, owner of B&B Steelworks at 23163 476th Ave. southwest of Flandreau, was supposed to have a fence in front of his property to conceal it from the road and was to have repaired the township road so that it is useable again. Neither were done by the July 1 county deadline.
In an issue that started last August, Opland was expected to put up the fence and repair the road. Later, he decided that a tree barrier would be better, but once the county tested the soil, it was determined to be too contaminated to grow trees so the requirement switched back to a fence, which Opland agreed to put up.
Last week at the county commission meeting, Opland said the muddy spring has prevented him from cleaning up the area near the road. He also said with the price of steel falling, he doesn’t have the money to install a fence, which he estimates would cost $13,000.
“I don’t have that kind of money. I’ve got to be able to make it,” he said. “You’re asking me to do something I can’t do.”
Commissioners and staff reminded Opland that he has had several chances to comply with the county’s rules, starting nearly a year ago.
“The thing is Bernie, I think we gave you just about every opportunity,” said Commissioner Dan Miles. “I don’t know if you ever had plans to get it done, and I don’t think you ever will.”
The commission looked at recent photos, which showed machinery and salvage in the ditch. “You’re still using the ditch. There’s machines parked out to the road. It just never changes,” Miles said.
Opland said he would prefer to move all of his machinery and salvage behind his buildings so it is not visible from the road and asked the commission to approve that. He wants to get the business ready to sell because at 74 years old, he would like to do something else. But the 1973 ordinance he operates under specifies there needs to be a fence or trees blocking the view from the road.
“I don’t want to build a fence,” Opland said. “I don’t have money for this.”
Opland still could complete the project before the court date, which is expected to be in middle or late August, and come into compliance, said Paul Lewis, Moody County State’s Attorney.
Commissioners said they have no choice but to enforce the county’s rules.
“You have to be in compliance,” said Commission Chairman Rick Veldkamp. “We’re not committing to changing anything at this point.”
Commissioners also said the road’s condition is a safety concern, and Opland’s salvage is in the right-of-way.
“You haven’t done anything to address the concerns we had in August last year,” Veldkamp said. “That road is a danger to people who drive there. You haven’t addressed any issues on the road.”