161.242 JUNK YARD ACT.
Subdivision 1. Legislative findings and purpose.
It is hereby found that the operation of
motor vehicle, agricultural, construction machinery or other junk yards adjacent to the trunk
highways on which motor vehicles are operated is a distracting influence on drivers, thereby
impairing the public safety; and that junk yards are unsightly, thus impairing the public investment
in such highways. It is hereby found and declared that in the interest of and to promote the public
safety, to protect the public investment in such highways, and to preserve natural beauty, it is
necessary to regulate the operation of junk yards on lands adjacent to the trunk highways of
Subd. 2. Definitions.
(a) For the purposes of this section, the terms defined in this subdivision
have the meanings given them.
(b) "Junk yard" means an establishment, place of business, or place of storage or deposit,
which is maintained, operated, or used for storing, keeping, buying, or selling junk, or for the
maintenance or operation of an automobile graveyard, and shall include garbage dumps and
sanitary fills not regulated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, any of which are wholly or
partly within one-half mile of any right-of-way of any state trunk highway, including the interstate
highways, whether maintained in connection with another business or not, where the waste, body,
or discarded material stored is equal in bulk to five or more motor vehicles and which are to be
resold for used parts or old iron, metal, glass, or other discarded material.
(c) "Dealer" means any person, partnership, or corporation engaged in the operation of a
(d) "Junk" means old or scrap hazard signs, copper, brass, rope, rags, batteries, paper,
synthetic or organic, trash, rubber debris, waste, or junked, dismantled, or wrecked automobiles
or farm or construction machinery or parts thereof, iron, steel, and other old or scrap ferrous or
(e) "Automobile graveyard" means any establishment or place of business which is
maintained, used, or operated for storing, keeping, buying, or selling wrecked, scrapped, ruined,
or dismantled motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts.
(f) "Unzoned industrial area" means the land occupied by the regularly used building,
parking lot, storage or processing area of an industrial activity, and the land within 1,000 feet
thereof which is located on the same side of the highway as the principal part of said activity,
and not predominantly used for residential or commercial purposes, and not zoned by state or
local law, regulation or ordinance.
(g) "Industrial activities" means those activities permitted only in industrial zones, or in less
restrictive zones by the nearest zoning authority within the state, or prohibited by said authority
but generally recognized as industrial by other zoning authorities within the state, except that
none of the following shall be considered industrial activities:
(1) outdoor advertising devices as defined in Minnesota Statutes 1969, section
(2) agricultural, forestry, ranching, grazing, farming and related activities, including, but
not limited to, wayside fresh produce stands;
(3) activities normally and regularly in operation less than three months of the year;
(4) activities not visible from the traffic lanes of the main traveled way;
(5) activities conducted in a building principally used as a residence;
(6) railroad tracks, minor sidings, and passenger depots; or
(7) junk yards, as defined in paragraph (b).
(h) "Hazard signs" means signs listed in the Minnesota drivers' manual published by the
Department of Public Safety, signs required by the State Fire Code, and other signs related to road
or fire hazards and approved for use by the state or a political subdivision.
Subd. 3. Unauthorized junk yards prohibited.
(a) A junk yard may not exist or be operated
outside a zoned or unzoned industrial area, including those located on public lands, unless it is
screened to effectively conceal it from the view of motorists using the highway. The screening
required by this section may be effected by trees, shrubs, or foliage, natural objects, fences or
other appropriate means as determined by standards established by the commissioner. Plantings
that will eventually achieve effective screening shall be acceptable. Plantings shall be used in
connection with any fence or other nonnatural screening device.
(b) A portion of a junk yard that cannot be effectively screened must be removed or relocated
under the provisions of this section. A junk yard lawfully existing along a highway that is made a
part of the trunk highway system after January 1, 1975, and becomes nonconforming thereby shall
be effectively screened or removed or relocated within four years. Any junk yard that comes into
existence after July 1, 1971 that does not conform to this section, or that becomes nonconforming
after July 1, 1971, or that becomes nonconforming after action by the commissioner pursuant to
this section, is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and illegal, and the commissioner may
enter upon the land where the junk yard is located and may screen the same, or may relocate or
dispose of the junk yard after 90 days' notice to the owner or dealer thereof, if known, or to the
owner of the land. In this event, no compensation shall be paid to the owner or dealer or owner of
the land, and the commissioner may recover the cost of screening, removal, relocation or disposal
from the owner or dealer, if known, or from the owner of the land upon which the junk yard is
located. Any costs recovered by the commissioner shall be deposited in the general fund.
(c) None of the articles commonly found in junk yards shall be allowed to remain on the
grounds for more than 24 hours unless within the buildings or the properly screened area as
provided herein, nor shall any junk in any junk yard be allowed to extend above existing or
planned screening so as to be visible from the highway.
Subd. 4. Authority; enforcement.
The commissioner shall screen junk yards when required
by this section at locations on the right-of-way of the highway or on lands within 1,000 feet of the
right-of-way and shall pay for the costs thereof. If screening is not feasible because of economic
or topographic reasons, the commissioner shall secure the removal, relocation or disposal of such
junk yard by sale, agreement, or other means, and pay for the costs thereof. Notwithstanding the
other provisions of this section, if a junk yard exists within one-half mile of the right-of-way of
any trunk highway and is visible from the highway, the commissioner may acquire easements
for screening purposes up to one-half mile from the edge of the right-of-way of the highway.
The commissioner shall acquire such rights and interest in property, personal or real, necessary
to carry out the purposes of this section by purchase, gift, or eminent domain proceedings and
shall pay just compensation therefor.
Subd. 5. Penalty.
The owner or dealer of any junk yard which is declared a public nuisance
and illegal under subdivision 3, clause (2), or who violates any provision of this section shall be
guilty of a misdemeanor. Each day such a condition exists is a separate offense.
Subd. 6. Agreements with United States.
The commissioner is authorized to do all things
necessary, including, but not limited to, entering into agreements with the United States or any of
its agencies or departments as provided in United States Code, title 23, section 136, with respect
to control of junk yards, or any other applicable federal statute, and the rules and regulations
promulgated pursuant thereto, to accomplish the purposes of this section and to take such action
as may be necessary to obtain all available federal money therefor.
Subd. 6a. Hazard signs must be accepted.
A dealer shall accept hazard signs only from
a properly identified elected official or employee of the state or a political subdivision, who is
acting within the scope of the person's official duties. A dealer is not required to pay or otherwise
compensate any person or organization for taking possession of a hazard sign and is not required
to take possession at a place away from the site of the dealer's junk yard.
Subd. 7. Other regulation allowed.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit any
right, power or authority to regulate more strictly and control the erection or maintenance of junk
yards under the provisions of any other law of this state.
Subd. 8. Citation.
This section is the Junk Yard Act.
History: 1965 c 674 s 1-6; 1971 c 881 s 1; 1973 c 35 s 35; 1974 c 483 s 9; 1975 c 266 s 1;
1981 c 357 s 50; 1984 c 654 art 3 s 54,55; 1991 c 197 s 2,3