A huge cleanup project is under way on 12 acres of tax-forfeited property on Gould Gray Road, north of Brainerd.
Crow Wing County workers, including a Sentence-To-Serve crew, have been removing vehicles, homes, hazardous material and myriad garbage from the former property of Elizabeth Zugschwert.
The Zugschwert land was tax forfeited back to the county in September. The Zugschwerts and Robert Litzau were ordered by Crow Wing County District Court March 1 to vacate the property, said Tom Cowell, Crow Wing County land commissioner.
The county has had problems with the Zugschwert property before, including having to clean up the property.
A Brainerd school bus, one of about six junked vehicles, was removed from the former Zugschwert property Thursday.
Most recently, 59-year-old Litzau, who lived on the Zugschwert property, was charged March 4 with possessing incendiary devices with an alleged intent to harm officers of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department. Litzau was arrested after Crow Wing County officers found containers of gasoline rigged to explode and burn Litzau's house.
Witnesses reported Litzau said if the county attempted to remove him from the Zugschwert property "he would blow up everything, including himself," and that it was his intent to "kill as many police officers as possible and that he was going to wait at the door and when they came up he would blow up the house," the criminal complaint filed against Litzau stated.
Crow Wing County Sheriff Dick Ross said four more incendiary devices were found Wednesday on the former Zugschwert property.
It could be two to three weeks before the property is cleared, said Cowell. Among other things, crews have removed eight old mobile homes, five-six junked cars, a school bus, two huge roll-off construction-sized trash bins full of plastic pop bottles, stacks of fluorescent lights, a basement full of refrigerators and freezers still containing unrefrigerated food, and hazardous materials such as paint and oil.
A Sentence-To-Serve crew from the Crow Wing County Jail removed pieces of metal from a house, previously owned by Elizabeth Zugschwert off Gould Gray Road. The property went tax forfeited to the county in September. The Zugschwerts vacated the property March 7. (Dispatch Photos by Steve Kohls)
Four houses also have to be removed, said Cowell, and two of those are filled with garbage.
"We're watching things very carefully as the county crews have been working," said Cowell of the safety concerns on the property.
Eventually the land could be offered for public sale, Cowell added. Complete cleanup could be finished by spring.
No information or estimates were available on the cost to the county to clean up this property. The previous cleanup costs in 1994 were believed to be at least $20,000.
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