Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

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 the state.

Subd. 2.Definitions.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the terms defined in this subdivision have the meanings given them.

(b) "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.

(c) "Dealer" means any person, partnership, or corporation engaged in the operation of a junk yard.

(d) "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.

(e) "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 173.02, subdivision 16;

(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 (g).

(f) "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 nonferrous material.

(g) "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.

(h) "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.

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, paragraph (b), 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.

Subd. 9.

[Unnecessary]