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While certain restrictions on businesses may always be needed it's commendable when a city recognizes that it can often best help small businesses by getting out of the way.

The goal of making it easier for Brainerd businesses on Washington Street to operate seems to be the intent of proposed zoning changes being considered by the Brainerd Planning Commission.

A public hearing on that change and others is scheduled for the Jan. 12 planning commission meeting at Brainerd City Hall. The proposed zoning maps may be viewed at the city planner's office at city hall at the Brainerd Public Library or on the city's website at

Planning commission member Carter Kuehn said the changes were suggested to allow business owners to conduct their businesses in a less restrictive manner. Rick Fargo, a longtime property manager, said flexibility is the biggest need of the businesses that currently operate along the Washington Street corridor.

The changes would effect the Washington Street Commercial Zone from Southeast 13th St./Gillis Avenue to the Mississippi River bridge. That zone would be extended about a half block north of Washington and to the BNSF Railway tracks to the south.

Interested parties, particularly business people who would be affected by these changes, should take advantage of this review period and learn about the proposed zoning changes.

From what we've learned of the proposed changes we think they make sense. We hope the planning commission and city council give them serious consideration.