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Farmington parks commission considers encroachment policy

The Farmington Parks and Recreation Commission is considering a new policy to clean up the boundaries between residential properties and abutting city-owned parks and trail property.

The first draft of the park, open space and trail encroachment policy came before the parks commission members during their June 12 meeting. Farmington parks and recreation director Randy Distad is working with commission members to outline the new policy.

"This stems from the PRAC wanting to get a handle on the park boundaries and the property boundaries that are identified for trail boundaries, and wanting to make sure those boundaries are not being encroached upon by adjacent property owners," Distad said.

The city of Farmington has an ordinance in place that regulates encroachment of residential properties that abut wetlands, Distad said, but there is nothing on the books to address boundaries between residential properties and parks or trail-designated land.

The parks commission wants to address that, Distad said. In particular, the commission wants to address the possibility of residents doing landscaping projects on land designated for parks or trails.

"When residents are doing landscaping around their yards, we're OK with that," Distad said, "but the landscaping should not encroach into the city's park and trail property. We've come across a few areas where that has happened. That's why the commission wants to address it, so we can resolve any issues that might pertain to encroachments in city parks or trails."

The parks and rec commissioners reviewed the initial draft last week, and gave Distad a handful of revisions to work into the policy. The commission will review it again, and it has to be approved by the Farmington City Council before it goes into effect.

If the policy gets the nod from both the parks and recreation commission and the city council, the city will bring in survey crews to review areas where parks staff think landscaping projects may have stretched onto parks or trail property. Residents whose landscaping projects have crossed property lines will be notified they are encroaching on city-owned property.

Those residents may have to remove the landscaping that encroaches onto the city's land. Distad said the city will work with the residents as much as possible, but those projects will still have to be addressed.

"We understand they have spent some money there, so we will try to work with them as much as possible," Distad said. "The important thing for residents to understand is that there is a property line there and we want them to stay within that property line when they're making improvements."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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