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BRAINERD CITY COUNCIL: Approval of zoning changes could come next month

Before it takes any action on a proposed zoning map update that’s been worked on by the Planning Commission for a year and-a-half, the Brainerd City Council on Monday gave a last chance for residents and property owners to offer their opinions. 

The zoning map proposes numerous changes, including a reduction in the number of zones that allow multi-family housing, creating a Washington Street commercial district and the creation of another single-family residential zone. 

The zoning map may be viewed at the city’s website, 

Only a handful of people attended the listening session at the regular council meeting at city hall. 

“I think its compliment to the Planning Commission that we actually don’t have many people here,” council President Mary Koep said near the end of the listening session. “I thought we would have a full house.”

Greg Peterson and Trude Anderson, residents on Southeast 15th Street, both told the council they appreciate the proposed zoning change for their neighborhood from R-3 to R-2. Peterson said he wanted their street to stay a quiet, dead-end street. What he didn’t want was large apartment buildings being built in the neighborhood. 

Jay Brutsman, a South Ninth Street resident, said as an owner of rental property he was initially upset that zoning changes would eliminate multi-family housing, but said his fears were settled after speaking with staff. 

Existing multi-unit dwellings would be grandfathered in and property in which the zoning has been changed can be sold and retain the original usage. The zoning change would go into effect if the use of the property is changed, expanded or, in the case of rental property, was no longer properly licensed.

Brutsman also said zoning along major arteries such as Business Highway 371 and Highway 210 should be commercial. He said the council should make sure everybody is happy with the zoning changes. 

“I don’t like zoning any way,” Brutsman said. 

Jim Uhlman, a Cass County resident who owns property on Beaver Dam Road and is a former member of the Planning Commission, questioned how the city can rezone before updating its comprehensive plan. 

Uhlman also wanted the city to consider allowing commercial along Beaver Dam Road, something that had been rejected in the past. He noted Beaver Dam Road is one of the main arteries coming into the city, and businesses would attract traffic from Highway 371 down Wise Road. 

“We missed the opportunity in getting commercial on there,” he said. 

Uhlman’s concerns will be considered by the council at its Sept. 6 council meeting. 

Council member Bob Olson suggested forwarding the issue to the Planning Commission, but City Planner Mark Ostgarden said the commission had done its work and changes should be made by the council. Olson withdrew his motion to forward the issue to the Planning Commission when Koep put it on the Sept. 6 agenda. 

Council member Kelly Bevans said he would hesitate going through with putting commercial zones on Beaver Dam Road without a public hearing. He said many people feel Beaver Dam Road was overbuilt already. 

“I imagine that would not go over well,” Bevans said of not having a public hearing. Olson said he would hope it would go through the proper process. 

The council took no action on the zoning map on Monday. A final decision is expected in September. 

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857. 

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.