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Brainerd City Council: Council opts out of new law

The Brainerd City Council Monday night followed the lead of other cities in opting out of a recently approved state law. On May 12, Gov. Mark Dayton signed Chapter 111--S.F. 2555, an act relating to local government and regulating zoning of tempo...

Central Lakes College President Hara Charlier introduces herself to the Brainerd City Council Monday night. Charlier took over as president at the college on July 1. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)
Central Lakes College President Hara Charlier introduces herself to the Brainerd City Council Monday night. Charlier took over as president at the college on July 1. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)

The Brainerd City Council Monday night followed the lead of other cities in opting out of a recently approved state law.

On May 12, Gov. Mark Dayton signed Chapter 111-S.F. 2555, an act relating to local government and regulating zoning of temporary family health care dwellings. The new law creates a process for landowners to place mobile residential dwellings on their property to serve as a temporary family health care dwelling.

City Planner Mark Ostgarden explained the law was intended to provide a short-term care alternative for a mentally or physically impaired person, by allowing them to stay in a temporary dwelling on a relative's or caregiver's property. The law includes a provision stating cities can opt out of the law but must do so by Sept. 1. The council unanimously approved a motion to hold the first reading of an ordinance opting out of the law. Ostgarden recommended the city opt out of the law and provided three reasons why:

• The Planning Department has not had sufficient time to thoroughly review the law,

• Opting out gives the city additional time to consider whether to address the use with the Planning Commission and seek community input,

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• Opting out allows the city to draft its own ordinance language if or when it decides to consider the use.

Ostgarden provided a list of 33 Minnesota cities which had been contacted by Oak Park Heights city Administrator Eric Johnson about whether they would opt in or out of the law. Of the 33 cities, only one, Osseo, had chosen to opt in. The rest had either already opted out or were planning to do so.

Council member Mary Koep said the idea of temporary family health care dwellings has merit and deserves discussion. There's a real need for "something like that," she said, and hoped the Planning Commission and Planning Department would start looking into the issue.

"I just don't want to see it totally lost," Koep said.

Ostgarden said the Planning Department agrees with Koep's stance on the issue.

In other business, the council received a presentation from Jeff Czeczok, chair of the Charter Commission. Czeczok presented a letter on behalf of the commission bringing up the issue of unequal compensation among the different city committees. Specifically, he spoke about the Brainerd Public Utilities Commission and the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority and how members of both get compensated, while members of other city committees do not.

Through extensive research, Czeczok said he learned the council sets the compensation of BPU Commission members, though he was hard-pressed to find evidence the council had ever passed a resolution setting the compensation. Members of the HRA board are paid $75 per meeting. Members of the BPU Commission, through salary and health insurance, are paid about 30 percent of what a council member is paid, he said, while only attending one meeting per month.

It's not about someone getting something, Czeczok said, it's the question of why some people get something while others don't. He said his personal view was serving on a city committee is a voluntary action that shouldn't require compensation.

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"It's the people's money," Czeczok said. "We're always looking for ways to increase revenues or cut expenses and this is one small fraction."

Koep thanked Czeczok for his work and said the council should address his concerns in some way. City Administrator Jim Thoreen said before the Aug. 1 council meeting he would get more history on the issue and bring the council some options to consider.

In other business, the council:

Approved changing Fire Chief Tim Holmes's job status from probationary to regular, as he completed his first year of employment with the city on July 13. The change also advances Holmes to step C of the city's salary administration plan, which is 95 percent of the base wage for the position. His new salary will be $6,924 per month, or $83,093 annually.

Approved procedures for properties to connect to Brainerd Public Utilities water and sewer services when outside the city of Brainerd. The procedures will apply to properties at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport that hook up to water and sewer service upon the completion of the utility extension project. The airport is not within the city limits of Brainerd. City Engineer Jeff Hulsether noted staff met on several occasions to develop the procedures, which will be forwarded to Steve Wright, airport manager, and the Airport Commission. The procedures will also apply to any property outside the city limits which seek to hook up to water or sewer service, where annexation is not feasible.

Approved a new contractor license for Frank Charnetzki, Brainerd.

Approved a tobacco license for Cory Locky doing business as Tobacco Den, 2806 Clara St. The license is contingent upon the approval of the fire and police chiefs.

Received a written report from Police Chief Corky McQuiston on the department's activity in the month of June. The department responded to 1,551 calls for service during the month. This compares to 1,505 calls for service in June 2015.

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Met new Central Lakes College President Hara Charlier, who took over her position on July 1. Charlier stopped by the meeting to introduce herself to the council.

Approved a memorandum of understanding between the Brainerd Police Department and Central Lakes College for matters related to sexual assaults and sexual harassment. The agreement allows the two parties to share information in response to sexual assaults and sexual harassment at the college.

Approved an application to conduct excluded bingo submitted by the Lower South Long Lake Improvement Association for a Sept. 4 event at Jack's House, 330 Highway 25 South.

Approved a contractor payment to Braun Intertec for soils testing for the Southeast 13th Street project in the amount of $819.

Approved a contractor payment to Tom's Backhoe Service for the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport utility extension project in the amount of $790,203. It is the third scheduled payment for the project.

Called for citizen applicants for the Cable TV Advisory Committee, Rental Dwelling Board of Appeals and Walkable Bikeable City Committee.

 

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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