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Brainerd City Council: First reading held in advanced industrial demolition permit process

The permit process required before demolition is allowed in an industrial district could get a lot more detailed.

At its meeting Monday, the Brainerd City Council held the first reading of an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would lay out a more thorough process in obtaining a permit for demolition or decommission in industrial or mixed use districts.

Ultimately, it would give the city council more say and oversight in what happens during the demolition or decommission process.

The vote comes at the tail end of a four-month moratorium, which was placed at the council’s Dec. 3 meeting, halting demolition in industrial districts. It ends April 3.

The move was in response to the city receiving inquiries from contractors in regard to potential demolition of portions of the former Wausau Paper site.

Staff was concerned because the structures underground will limit the future of the site in building and extending utilities. Other concerns with demolition included: potential noise, vibrations, truck traffic, heavy dust and disposal of hazardous waste.

Since then the topic was sent to the planning commission to hash out a better process to approve demolitions. The current process is an over-the-counter demolition permit.

That leaves no room for the city to provide input or have a say in what happens in a decommissioning or demolition process.

“It’s inadequate to protect public health, safety and welfare concerning all of the potential negative impacts such demolitions could cause,” said City Planner Mark Ostgarden.

Should the proposed amendments be passed, anyone wanting to decommission or demolition property in an industrial or mixed use district must first apply for an interim use permit. Then, they must appear before the planning commission for a public hearing to explain how the decommissioning will happen and answer any questions.

The planning commission can then place any conditions it sees fit on the interim use permit “to protect the community,” Ostgarden said.

The commission will then pass the recommendation onto the full city council, which has the authority to approve or deny the permit.

The second reading and public hearing will be held at a special March 13 meeting at 6 p.m. If approved, the ordinance would take effect one week after publication.

The council agreed to work with Wausau officials in their request to expedite the process, so Wausau officials can begin the process in obtaining a permit. That’s why the council is holding the second reading at a special meeting instead of its next scheduled meeting.

Absent from the meeting was city council member Chip Borkenhagen.

In other news, the council:

Approved a request to keep firefighter Cory Zeien on staff until there is a definite decision made if and when fellow firefighter Charlie Dunemann returns to work after being out on Worker’s Compensation leave.

On December 16, 2013, the council approved retaining Zeien through March 14, 2014 or until Dunemann returns from leave. Zeien was hired originally through a SAFER grant, which the city re-applied for again and still hasn’t heard back if that application was granted.

Authorized staff to apply for a Conservation Partners Legacy Grant from the Department of Natural Resources. The Planning Department has been working with the local Rotary in effort to restore a portion of Rotary Riverside Park with native vegetation. The DNR grant can range from $5,000 to $50,000, but a 10 percent match is required. That 10 percent match will be provided by the Rotary.

Adopted a resolution receiving the feasibility report for the proposed improvements to 28th Street, and called for a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. April 7. The project will be between Oak Street and Highway 25. The estimated cost of the project is $419,000, of which about $162,000 is proposed to be assessed to properties located in the city of Brainerd, and another $42,750 will be charged to Oak Lawn Township for its share of the improvement cost.

Approved allowing the Parks and Recreation Department to buy a commercial rotary mower. With the trade-in of the existing mower, the final cost will be $15,342.

Approved the accounts payable/administrative specialist position at city hall to Darla Johnson. There were 50 applicants, of which seven were interviewed.

Appointed the following people to the Mississippi River Partnership Steering Committee: Jeff Behr, Howard Brewer, Marcia Ferris, Donald Gorman, Daniel Hegstad and Eric Roberts.

Was presented with the 11 applicant names for the vacant city council at-large seat. A special meeting will be held at 6 p.m. March 10, during which each will be allowed five minutes to talk. The council will then vote on who will fill the seat, with the majority vote winning the seat.

If there is a tie, the mayor will cast a vote between those in the tie.

Adjourned to a special Safety and Public Works Committee meeting at 4 p.m. March 11 in city council chambers. Adjourned to a special city council meeting at 6 p.m. March 10 to vote on a candidate for the open council seat.