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Brainerd City Council: Lager that lingers - City staff to review brewery odor regulations

Roundhouse Brewery is seeking clarification on a city ordinance concerning odors emanating from the brewery business in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo1 / 2
Members of Brainerd's safety and public works committee discuss the city's brewery ordinance during its meeting Monday, Nov. 19. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 2

How responsible should brewery owners be for the odors their business emits?

According to Brainerd city ordinance, which is now under staff review: "No odors from the brewery shall be perceptible beyond the property line. If such odors occur, the brewery shall take appropriate measures to reduce or mitigate any odors generated from the operation and be in compliance with any applicable Minnesota Pollution Control standards."

Roundhouse Brewery co-owner Dan Meyer brought the ordinance to the Brainerd City Council's attention Monday, Nov. 19, asking for clarification of how property lines are handled when Roundhouse leases part of the Northern Pacific Center. He also asked what constitutes as "appropriate measures to reduce or mitigate" odors that may be produced and pointed out the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency does not have a state odor policy, instead giving cities and counties the power to dictate their own laws.

Meyer asked if the property lines, in this case, mean the confines of the space Roundhouse leases or the whole building complex in general?

"We know we produce an odor," he said, then noted actions the brewery took last spring to reroute exhaust that was coming out of the side of the building.

"We have since added piping to put it above the roofline," Meyer said during Monday's safety and public works committee meeting. "Whether that still meets the requirements beyond the property line is unclear to us because we're not sure what that property line is as it's defined here."

Rick Fargo, Northern Pacific Center property manager, echoed Meyer's request for clarification, saying he has heard a number of complaints from both tenants and visitors about the brewery's odors but also noted Roundhouse's efforts to mitigate exhaust, which he said helped to an extent.

"I'm not arguing whether it's a nice smell or a bad smell. I'm just simply saying there is an odor on the premises that they are leasing," Fargo said.

Council member and committee chair Kelly Bevans said the request for clarity makes sense but added there might not be anything the city can write in an ordinance to stop people from complaining.

"I'm not saying that they're legitimate or not, I'm just saying that's a tough thing to ask," Bevans said. "We can certainly do our best."

Fargo also pointed to the city's property maintenance code, which has a section about odors as well. City Engineer Paul Sandy said the code states exhaust and discharges of gases, vapor, hot air, grease, smoke and odors may not be released directly upon an adjacent or abutting property or tenant. Because of Roundhouse's rerouting of the exhaust above the roofline, Sandy said he believes the brewery is in compliance with the property maintenance code.

City Attorney Joseph Langel told council members they could eliminate the section on odors from the brewery ordinance and instead rely on the city's property maintenance and nuisance codes.

Council member Jan Lambert asked if one of the ordinances could mandate exhaust fumes to be released so far above buildings. Langel said that could be added to the brewery ordinance as a performance standard.

The committee, made up of Bevans, Lambert and council member Dave Badeaux, agreed to recommend the council send the brewery ordinance to city staff for review. Staff would then have the planning commission look over any changes before bringing the ordinance back in front of the council. The full city council approved this measure at its subsequent meeting Monday.

In other business Monday, the council:

Approved a street closure application for the Gnome for the Holidays celebration noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 24. The event will use Front, South Seventh, South Eighth and Maple streets.

Approved a joint powers agreement between the city and the state of Minnesota for the development of the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail within Brainerd. The city will work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to design and construct the trail. The location of the trail in Brainerd is not yet determined.

Authorized staff to install a floodlight to properly light the World War II monument and flagpole to be donated and placed in Memorial Park next spring. The Brainerd Elks Club and other groups donated $8,000 to cover the cost of the monument and the flagpole. The cost of the floodlight, which the city will be responsible for, has yet to be determined.

Approved an agreement with CliftonLarsonAllen for 2018 audit services. The cost is $46,020, which is about 1 percent more than in 2017.