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Minnesota couple ordered to remove addition to their cabin or face jail time

A Minnesota couple who added on to their Town of Trenton cabin, allegedly in violation of county law, were ordered to remove the structure, bring it into compliance with county code by May 1 or each spend two weeks in jail.

Judge James Duval found Delbert E. and Nancy L Johnson--who participated in a recent hearing by telephone--in contempt of court.

In June, the judge ruled the Johnsons had done construction work in a floodway along the Mississippi River in violation of county code and without a permit. He ordered all structures, except the basement and holding tank, must be removed and said the screen porch could remain if it was moved to a legal setback.

During a Nov. 7 hearing, the judge said the Johnsons, Red Wing, had intentionally disobeyed his order by failing to remove the structures by Sept. 1. He lifted a stay and ordered them to pay civil forfeitures of $31,954.

Delbert Johnson told the court the lower level bathroom has been removed and the screened-in porch has been moved back from the water to the line equal with the building. He asked to be allowed to delay the rest of the work until spring, when they are back in this area.

But the county’s attorney insisted the structure must be removed. According to court notes, the Johnsons then asked the county take the land and have the structure removed.

During the hearing, there was discussion of the possibility of doing something to make the cabin code compliant or of moving it.

The judge said the Johnsons can’t wait until spring to deal with this matter, but must do it now. He gave them a deadline of May 1. If the structure is not removed or demolished by then, Delbert Johnson is to report to the Pierce County Jail to serve 14 days, and on May 15 Nancy Johnson is to report to serve 14 days.

The Johnsons’ second option to purge the contempt is to make the structure code compliant by May 1. The judge ordered the county to issue permits if the Johnsons present a plan that meets county code.