Dumpster debate: City ordinance keeps old Breckenridge building from renovation

BRECKENRIDGE, Minn. (Valley News Live) - An old building in Breckenridge, Minn. that many see as a historic landmark faces needed renovations. But a concerned community member contacted our Whistleblower hotline when a city ordinance got in the way.

We waded through building debris to find out what work is still needed—and what's keeping it from getting done.

Dewayne Clark bought the Legends building on May 1. Built in 1935, it once was a popular movie theater—and then a bar.

"My daughter and I fell in love with this community because of the small-town feel,” Clark said.

Clark plans to live on the top floor of the building—and he’s hoping to turn the bottom into a music hall.

"Every two out of three people I talked to wanted it to be back as a live venue with live music and dancing," Clark said.

Edd Goerger owns an insurance business right down the street. He says it’s important for his and other businesses that all the buildings on the street are well utilized. He also grew up in the area.

"Growing up we always came here to Wahpeton-Breckenridge to see movies and stuff like this,” he said, “and the Ridge was always one of the movie halls we would go to, and then later on it was transitioned to a bar, and we also partook in that business entity also."

But right now more than just debris stands in the way of the building’s renovation.

Since most of the work is in the front side of the building, Dewayne Clark says he needs to park a dumpster in the front parking area.

"The dumpster's only 15 foot,” he said. “So it would only be about, a little more than the red car that's there."

But according to the city's parking ordinance, it can't stay there overnight. The city did say he could put it in the back of the building, but that would double his liability, insurance and construction costs.

But Breckenridge city council member, Jason Butts, says the last he heard, Clark was okay with putting the dumpster in the back of the building.

"And then he showed up at the meeting two weeks later,” Butts said, “so probably two to three weeks ago, with a letter from a silent investor saying they're pulling out if we're gonna act like that, and I didn't know what to say."

Butts says there is a chance the council members could work to adjust the ordinance.

"We'll work with him…we wouldn't necessarily have to change the ordinance,” he said, “we could give a variance to the ordinance...I don't know if that's gonna be the case, I'm only one of six councilman...but what I am trying to say is it's possible to sit down and figure this out."

And Clark says he shares the sentiment.

"This should be something we can see eye to eye on,” Clark said, “or let's make ordinances that need to be made, let's figure it out, because this should not be a struggle."

After we spoke with him, Clark sent another letter to city council members, and some others in the community, inviting them to the building to see exactly what he's dealing with—so they can all try to come up with a better solution.