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Brainerd issues reminder about building code, zoning requirements

Warmer weather may have some Brainerd residents thinking about projects like constructing a needed storage building, installing a privacy fence, purchasing a new swimming pool or having a garage sale. The Brainerd Building Safety and Planning Department would like to remind our residents about the building code and zoning ordinance requirements that need to be followed for each of these activities.

Accessory buildings: An accessory building includes storage buildings, sheds, gazeboes, and detached garages. An accessory building (regardless of size) that will have a permanent foundation requires a building permit. An accessory building 120 square-feet requires a building permit and can not be made of metal. Plastic carport style buildings and “hoop” houses are not permitted in the city of Brainerd.

There are several important zoning requirements that affect accessory building construction. They include:

• Where in the community the building will be constructed

• Lot placement

• Property line setback requirements

• Limit on the number of accessory buildings

• Accessory building area and height

• Maximum lot coverage

Swimming Pools: Following are some of the more important swimming pool requirements:

• Any swimming pool that is over 24 inches above ground or over 5,000 gallons in capacity (above ground or in ground) requires a building permit

• Pools that are less than 18 inches deep or less may be located in a front yard, must be 10 feet from a side lot and eight feet from a rear property line and must be located in a side or rear yard

• Seasonal pools that are over 24 inches deep are required to have a controlled access and have a ground fault circuit

Fences: Fences are allowed in residential areas as follows:

• Up to six feet six inches starting at the front (and side if on a corner lot) of a house extending back to the rear property line

• In a front yard up to four feet tall

• Alley property line fence setback is four feet

• The fence “good” side must face out (onto and adjoining property or towards the street or alley)

• A permit is required

A fence is not allowed on a public right of way.

Outdoor storage: Almost all material, equipment and personal property is required to be kept within a building or screened from public properties and/or right of way. Following are some of the exceptions:

• Clothes lines

• Recreational equipment

• Rear or side yard storage of firewood for the purpose of consumption by the person or persons residing on the premises

• Off-street parking of licensed and operable passenger automobiles and pick-up trucks

Recreational vehicles: Parking or storage of a recreational vehicle is permitted provided it is:

• Property of the person or persons residing on the premises

• Licensed and operable

• Stored no closer than five feet from side or rear lot lines

• Located in the front yard are parked on designated and properly surgaced driveway or parking area

• Located in the front or side yard abutting a street must be placed at least 15 feet from the back of curb and shall not encroach on any public sidewalk or trail

• In any yard, not placed within 10 feet of the living quarters of the principal building on the adjacent lot

Tarps and coverings: Tarps or coverings are allowed provided they are a color that matches screening material whether is is landscaping or fencing.

Fish houses: One fish house is permitted to be stored in the rear yard.

Garage sale signs: A property may have up to four garage sales each year. One to six square-foot garage sale sign is allowed on private property and must be removed after the sale. This means signs are not allowed in the right of way in front of a house, on street lights, other utility poles or at a street corner. City of Brainerd staff has the authority to remove any sign in the public right of way without prior notice to the sign’s owner.

Property maintenance: Spring is the season to begin yard work and exterior improvements. The property maintenance code applies to all existing residential and nonresidential structures and all exsisting premises. Exteriors shallbe maintained in good repair, structurally sound and sanitary so as not to pose a threat to the public health, safety or welfare.

Protective treatment: All exterior surfaces, including but not limited to, doors, door and window frames, cornices, porches, trim, balconies, decks and fences must be maintained. Exterior wood surfaces, other than decay resistant woods, should be protected from the elements and decay painting or other protective covering or treatment. Peeling, flaking and chipped paint should be eliminated and surfaces repainted.

Junk: No person, firm or corporation of any kind shall permit the accumulation of junk, including but not limited to, waste material, trash, rubbish, refuse or litter of any kind upon any land or inside or under any building or structure which may provide harborage or breeding places for mosquitoes, vermin or rats.

Unlicensed vehicles: The prescence of abandones, wrecked, dismantled, inoperative, unlicensed, junked or partially dismantled motor vehicles or a motor vehicle lacking vital component parts or parts of a motor vehicle on private or public property is considered a public nuisance. This does not apply to any motor vehicle enclosed within a building of private property or to any motor vehicle held in connection with a business enterprise lawfully licensed by the city.

Long grass and weeds: All premised and exterior property shall be maintained free from weeds or plant growth in excess of six inches. All noxious weeds are prohibited. Weeds are defined as all grasses, annual plants and vegetation other than trees or shrubs provided; however, this term does not include cultivated flowers and gardens.

Cleaning up litter/feces: Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up feces and disposing of it in a sanitary manner whether on their own property, on the property of others or on public property. The cleanup of feces on the animal owner’s property shall not exceed 72 hours from May 1 through Oct. 31 and once per week from Nov. 1 through April 30. The cleanup of feces on the property of others or public property must be taken care of immediately.

Residents are urged to contact the building safety department or the planning department at 828-2309 with questions. More information can be found at the city website at

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889