Bins in alleys or streets? City notes exemptions for new trash pickup rules

Residents who do not have adequate alley access can apply for an exemption, allowing them to continue placing their garbage cans on the street instead of in alleys, per the city's new guidelines.

With new changes to the city's code, Brainerd residents are required to place their garbage bins in the alley for pickup instead of on the street, expect in special circumstances. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd residents who meet specific criteria can apply for exemptions under the city’s new rule about where they place their garbage cans for collection, the city council decided Monday, Dec. 7.

After several complaints about bins being left out on the street long past collection time, the Brainerd City Council created a solid waste committee to take a look at the city’s ordinance and offer up suggestions. The council approved ordinance amendments in November, which included a requirement for garbage and recycling to be collected in alleys instead of on streets, except in special circumstances.

City Engineer Paul Sandy reported concerns from some residents — especially those on corner lots — about easily accessing their alleys for this purpose. The city’s haulers are working on compiling a list of residences with no alleys or insufficient access that would be exempt from the change. Residents who are not on that list, though, will have an opportunity apply for an exemption if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Non-adequate garage or driveway access. Adequate access is defined as an area an owner tenant would, on a regular basis, reasonably maintain during the year for purposes of accessing their property for parking, access or storage needs. An exemption to the alley pickup would be granted if the owner or tenant did not have adequate access to place a can out.

  • Physical barriers. For properties without a driveway from the street or alley, an exemption would be granted if physical barriers to can placement exist. A barrier is defined as any physical object (fence without a gate, garage, etc.) that does not allow for a direct route for placement of the garbage receptacle from the residence to the alley.

  • Need to cross private property or public streets. An exemption would be granted if an owner or tenant must cross other private properties or public right of way to place a can due to barriers or being landlocked.

Applications must include the property address, the reason for exemption and a diagram showing where the resident will place their garbage bin instead. Exemptions will be granted administratively based on the criteria approved by the council.
Sandy said staff will be conservative when issuing exemptions but also noted the city does not want to cause undue harm to any residents over the placement of garbage cans.

“It’s really just trying to get as many (garbage bins) as we can back to the alley,” Sandy said. “I think a lot of people already do do this, but there’s going to be probably 100-200 residents that are in a situation where they might need an exemption.”


Sandy said exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Any exemptions granted will follow the property if it is sold to a new owner.

While the new rules are already in place, Sandy said the city will not begin enforcement until all residents are properly notified and time has been allowed for exemption applications, which may not be until after winter is over. Haulers are working to send notices out to customers, who will then be able to request an exemption application.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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