Duluth deems Last Place on Earth a 'nuisance'
The city of Duluth has served a "Notice of Public Nuisance" on the Last Place on Earth and its owner, Jim Carlson, claiming the Superior Street establishment is creating a substantial deterioration of the public safety, use and enjoyment of the h...
The city of Duluth has served a "Notice of Public Nuisance" on the Last Place on Earth and its owner, Jim Carlson, claiming the Superior Street establishment is creating a substantial deterioration of the public safety, use and enjoyment of the historic downtown district.
The notice also for the first time publicly alleges that Carlson unlawfully sold synthetic drugs on Aug. 10, 2011, and Sept. 8, 2011. No criminal charges have been filed against the businessman.
"You've heard it, I've heard it, the Police Department has heard it, the mayor's office has heard it and our state legislators have heard it. It's an issue of a nuisance that's been growing from the sale of synthetic drugs by Last Place on Earth," Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson said Thursday.
"This is an action that this office has taken as an attempt to deal with the nuisance problem. Obviously, there's some legislation that criminalizes some of the sales of certain synthetic drugs. This is a different approach to the problem. Anybody who has walked through that neighborhood during the times in which these sales are going on and when these people are spilling out on the street and running around, I think understands the nuisance I'm describing."
The notice states that failure to abate the conduct creating the public nuisance or failure to resolve the matter with the city attorney's office within 30 days of the notice may result in the filing of a complaint for relief in district court that could result in prohibiting the Last Place on Earth from using the building for any purpose for one year.
Carlson said Thursday night that he's willing to meet with the city, all officials have to do is call him. "All they have to do is pick a time and they can come in and get together," he said. "A lot of wars can be avoided. I always go for talking first."
Carlson didn't seem too concerned by the nuisance notice. He said his attorney told him the nuisance statute refers only to "illegal drugs and hookers."
"We're not selling illegal drugs and we're not selling hookers out the door, so he told me we are good to go," Carlson said.
The three-page Notice of Public Nuisance drafted and signed by Johnson and served on Carlson by Duluth police cites Minnesota law:
"The public nuisance maintained and permitted at Last Place on Earth and the historic district surrounding it, as defined in Minnesota Statute includes: the sale of harmful and mood-altering synthetic drugs; the permission of assemblies blocking safe and secure citizen access to the streets, sidewalks, and businesses surrounding Last Place on Earth; the daily disturbance of the neighborhood encompassing Duluth's historic downtown district; the permission of disorderly conduct; the sale of synthetic drugs from bulk without the use of proper measurement devices; and the sale of synthetic drugs in packages lacking adequate consumer notice and warning."
Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay's department is attempting to rid the district of the nuisance. "This is a joint effort between us and the city attorney in trying to address one of the biggest problems downtown in decades," Ramsay said. "What I hope comes out of this is that the problems there are abated and we can get a healthy business district back again."
Randall Tigue, Carlson's lawyer, filed a letter with Judge Shaun Floerke on Wednesday. Floerke has ordered the city to turn over for his review its test results on synthetic drugs seized from the Last Place on Earth during the execution of a search warrant by Duluth police at the shop last September.
When Tigue learned that the Notice of Public Nuisance was served on his client, he filed a letter with the court stating:
"The (notice) demands that my client 'abate' his nuisance conduct within 30 days; however, he (City Attorney Johnson) refuses to disclose whether or not the product my client is selling violates the law, making that 'abatement' impossible. I would request this court to act promptly to put an end to this dishonesty and hypocrisy," Tigue wrote.
The nuisance notice states that incidents and calls requiring police and emergency assistance at the shop are too numerous to list, but eight incidents are specified: