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Brainerd City Council: Council changes ordinance, greenlights storage facility

Moving beyond a point of contention for the Brainerd City Council in the past, members approved the construction of a salt and sand storage facility Tuesday.

A photo of a hoop house, or fabric-based construction, submitted by City Planner Mark Ostgarden to the Brainerd City Council. Submitted photo
A photo of a hoop house, or fabric-based construction, submitted by City Planner Mark Ostgarden to the Brainerd City Council. Submitted photo

Moving beyond a point of contention for the Brainerd City Council in the past, members approved the construction of a salt and sand storage facility Tuesday.

Three contingent resolutions were approved: one authorized the solicitation of construction bids for a fabric-based salt and sand storage facility, which was dependent on a resolution to hire Braun Intertec to conduct a foundational geotechnical study of the site, which in turn was dependent on an ordinance change regarding fabric-based structures in the first place.

During the Feb. 5 council meeting, council members Gabe Johnson and Kelly Bevans questioned whether it was wise to make changes to the ordinance based on the perceived ugliness of hoop houses.

Opening the door for the construction of hoop houses-particularly in commercial districts-threatens to undo progress that's been 10-20 years in the making, Bevans said, citing a history of friction between community members and the council over the matter.

"I'm thinking up and down Washington (Street), about 30 of them. If the answer to this is yes, then I'm going to vote no. I think it's horrible," Bevans said at the time. "My argument isn't the structure, it's the location. If you allow them up and down Washington (Street), I don't care if they're made of diamonds, they look like crap."

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Prior to Tuesday's meeting, fabric-based constructions were not allowed in industrial and commercial districts. The council ultimately approved the ordinance change, but only for industrial districts and not for commercial properties.

Beyond the salt/storage facility, City Engineer Paul Sandy said the ordinance change opens up a number of opportunities for the construction of agricultural and other storage facilities for a much cheaper cost, to say nothing of attractions like pavilions and open-air amphitheaters that also use fabric-based constructions.

"Getting the most bang for our buck, construct a facility to get the rain and snow off," Sandy said in summation, adding the issue has been up for discussion for years.

Per the site study resolution, Braun Intertec will perform four borings at the proposed corner of the new salt/sand storage building. Geotechnical engineers will provide logs of the borings and groundwater depth, identify site conditions that will impact the structure and means to mitigate these issues and provide recommendations for construction.

The total for the services to be contracted to Braun Intertec is estimated at $5,775.

The final resolution authorized the city of Brainerd to field bids for the construction of the sand/salt storage facility in the Brainerd Street Department. Currently, $240,000 was budgeted for this purpose.

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