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Brainerd City Council: Members reconsider ordinance for hoop houses

The Brainerd City Council is considering changes to ordinances regarding fabric-based buildings in the city of Brainerd, making a foray into an issue that's been a sore point for city officials and community members in the past.

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

The Brainerd City Council is considering changes to ordinances regarding fabric-based buildings in the city of Brainerd, making a foray into an issue that's been a sore point for city officials and community members in the past.

Currently, ordinances do not allow buildings constructed from fabric materials to be built in its industrial and commercial districts. These buildings-often in the form of "hoop houses"-while practical, cheap to build and maintain, are often seen as an eyesore and have been restricted from main thoroughfares like Washington Street in the past.

City Planner Mark Ostgarden noted the need for a salt storage facility could be solved with the construction of a building made with fabric materials. Looking beyond the qualifications of a single facility, Ostgarden said a change of the ordinance could present more options and "need architectural opportunities" for industrial and commercial property owners in the city of Brainerd going forward.

"In today's society it's not unusual to see different fabric materials being used in construction, particularly for commercial properties or industrial-type activities," Ostgarden said. "The structural fabric material can provide architectural interest to a building and it can provide more alternative utilitarian purposes in an industrial district."

City Engineer Paul Sandy said these fabric-based constructions typically have a 20-year warranty. In the event of a replacement, which involves replacing the fabric, metal trusses and concrete components, would cost $350 per square yard of the building footprint.

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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, as well as a history of friction between community members and the council over the matter.

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.

"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. "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 look like diamonds, they look like crap."

Ostgarden said hoop houses would not be constructed on Washington Street, based on the fact they would require a conditional use permit, which these structures are unable to obtain based on snow-load capacity and wind resistance.

Ostgarden noted the council can opt to limit the ordinance change to industrial properties, instead of both industrial and commercial districts.

The council unanimously approved a first reading of the ordinance. The matter is up for consideration in the future.

In other business, the council:

Authorized the approval of easements, or access, to sewer and water utilities in the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport property by employees of the city of Brainerd to maintain.

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Approved a cost-share agreement to the amount of $4,739.65 with the city of Baxter to participate in the rehabilitation of Dellwood Drive. About one-quarter mile of Dellwood Drive lies in Brainerd city limits.

Approved a detour agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for the South Sixth Street reconstruction project. Planned detours will utilize Oak Street from 13th Street Southeast to South Sixth Street, Quince Street between South Sixth and Eighth streets, and South Eighth Street from Quince Street to Highway 210. The total amount due to the city of Brainerd via the gas tax method and the agreement is $6,658.27.

Approved an on-sale and beer license for Burrito California, located at 404 1/2 West Washington St.

Approved trade-in transactions for a snowblower and vacuum truck, as well as listing a 1991 loader for public surplus-all equipment currently in the city's utility fleet. The council also authorized a rate study analysis to determine whether an interfund loan would be necessary to cover these costs. Lower than expected assessments on vehicles in the fleet, as well as higher prices than expected on new equipment, prompted this motion, said Johnson.

Approved a resolution authorizing the Brainerd police chief to sign and execute a master subscriber agreement for police access to the Minnesota Court Data Services System. In his request, Chief Corky McQuiston cited a lack of access to necessary court documents for officers and clerical staff for enforcing court orders or preparing files for prosecution.

Approved a resolution authorizing the city administrator and mayor to sign and execute the Master Joint Powers Agreement and Amendment for the city prosecutor's access to the Criminal Justice Data Communications Network.

Approved submitting new guidelines for the city's revolving loan fund to the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the Brainerd Economic Development Authority for their evaluation. The revolving loan fund-containing about $145,000-would provide loans up to $25,000 to prospective commercial property owners or private properties. The funds would revolve at 1 percent below prime, or just below market value. The funds would be matched, dollar for dollar. The eligible target area for commercial property would be from Kingwood Street to Oak Street and from the Mississippi River to 13th Street including the Northern Pacific Center.

Approved an agreement for actuarial consulting services with Hildi Inc. to the amount of $3,100 in 2018 and about $800-$1,000 for 2019.

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Authorized staff to advertise for a human resources intern for 2018.

Approved a policy that authorizes the hiring of city employees to serve as paid-on-call firefighters while still being employed in their current positions. The motion stemmed from an application by a full-time employee of the city, Brainerd police officer Paul Rosier, to also serve as a paid-on-call firefighter. The motion also authorized staff to enter into negotiations with Law Enforcement Labor Service of Minnesota for a memorandum of agreement.

Related Topics: BRAINERD
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