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Updated zoning map will mean changes

After more than a year-and-a-half of work, Brainerd’s zoning map has been officially updated.

The Brainerd City Council, with a 5-1 vote, adopted the updated zoning map, which changes zoning in several areas of the city. The new map may be viewed at Brainerd City Hall or at the city’s website,

The new zoning map includes a reduction in the number of zones that allow multi-family housing, creates a Washington Street commercial district and creates another single-family residential zone.

A public hearing was opened before the council took action, but no one spoke. Shortly after the hearing closed, a Beaver Dam resident, Steve Eide, was allowed to address the council and said he wanted the area to stay rural residential.

“We don’t need the extra congestion of the commercial property, more turning lanes and things like that,” Eide said. Mary Koep, city council president, told Eide that the recommendation was to leave the area rural residential.

Voting against was council member Kelly Bevans, who took issue with a Sept. 6 council decision to leave the area between Kingwood Street and Juniper Street between North Fourth to North Eighth streets as various zones, especially R-3 multi-family residential.

A motion by council member Bonnie Cumberland to reconsider the issue was defeated by a 4-3 vote, with council members Koep, Bob Olson, Lucy Nesheim and Mayor James Wallin voting against. Wallin voted to break a tie because of the absence of council member Kevin Goedker. 

Bevans said by not following the recommendation of the Planning Commission to change the zoning to single-family residential, the council would be taking nearly 10 percent of historic north Brainerd and turning it into “multi-family garbage pits.” He said he couldn’t wait until election time because, when people called him to complain, he will be giving them the phone numbers of the north-side council members who voted to keep the area multi-family residential — namely Olson and Wallin. 

The area in question is already predominantly rental property. Olson said he didn’t want to penalize people who bought the property with the understanding it would be rental property. Wallin said rentals now are single-family houses, but to change to zoning would make it non-conforming. 

“I don’t foresee it changing or destroying our north side, and I know that the people who live in all these homes feel the same way,” Wallin said.  

Koep said she thought it was offensive to call the area a garbage pit. Many of the places are nicely kept, she said, and if there is a problem it will need to be addressed.

While in favor of revisiting Kingwood Street zoning, Cumberland said not making those zoning changes wouldn’t result in her voting against the zoning map update. 

“I just can’t see holding up all this work for a four-block area,” Cumberland said. Council member Steve Parks said he agreed.

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.