Larger dining patios allowed in Brainerd

Patios at bars and restaurants in Brainerd are no longer limited to 30% of the size of the establishment's indoor space.

Patio dining area at the Sage On Laurel in Brainerd Monday, May 3, 2021. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Restrictions on patio sizes at Brainerd bars and restaurants went out the window Monday, May 3.

The Brainerd City Council agreed to temporarily suspend the portion of city code that says establishments cannot have patios that exceed 30% of the total indoor customer floor area, due largely to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Having looked at other communities, we’re the only community that seems to get this granular about patios,” Community Development Director David Chanski told the council.

With increases in outdoor dining likely here to stay even in a post-COVID-19 world, Chanski said the planning commission plans to update the city’s zoning code with permanent less stringent guidelines for patios. The council’s temporary suspension of the current code section will remain in effect from now until the final zoning code update is complete.

The council also approved conditional use permits Monday for O’Neary’s Irish Pub in downtown Brainerd and CC’s Bar on Washington Street in Northeast Brainerd to construct outdoor patios. O’Neary’s constructed a temporary patio last year when the council agreed to an extension of premises for establishments to offer outdoor space during the height of the pandemic and will now make that patio permanent.


City code states a conditional use permit is required for outdoor patios that serve alcohol.

In other business Monday, the council:

Approved a lawful gambling permit application from Confidence Learning Center for an event at 5Rocks Distilling.

Agreed to donate $8,000 to Brainerd Community Action for the annual Fourth of July Fireworks. The money will come from the city’s special projects fund.

Approved a memorandum of agreement with the Brainerd Public Utilities union to hire Eric Klein as a full-time wastewater operator. Klein previously interned for BPU while attending college and will begin working full time upon graduating from college this year.

Authorized the hiring of Nick Karsnia as a police department intern, effective May 10, earning $12 per hour.

Authorized staff to sell the old Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablets council members used before their recent upgrades on a public auction website, as the tablets may still have some resale value.

Authorized staff to purchase hanging flower baskets from Copper Creek Garden Center to be placed downtown at a cost not to exceed $5,400. The cost is assessed to the downtown special services district.


Approved a change order for the city hall parking lot resurfacing and upgrade project in the amount of $27,791.83. The change results from unforeseen issues with the thickness of the pavement and underlying base course that needed to be addressed. The money will come from the city’s capital improvement fund.

Approved a contract with Braun Intertec for $34,040 for materials testing services on the Northwest Fourth Street reconstruction project.

Adopted a resolution supporting the Mississippi River-Brainerd Watershed One Watershed One Plan, spearheaded by the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources. The plan is dedicated to soil and water conservation within the Mississippi River watershed.

Accepted a quote from Bolton and Menk for $143,734.24 for the Northwest Third Street and Jackson Street reconstruction project. The cost is about 9% under the original estimate.

Scheduled the annual Municipal Separate Storm Sewer public hearing for 7:30 p.m. May 17.

Accepted a grant from the state’s local road improvement program in the amount of $1 million for the Northwest Fourth Street reconstruction project. This amount is $200,000 more than expected.

Amended the comprehensive plan to include a new future land use map created by the planning commission.

Denied a text amendment request from Cheryl Strand to either add in-home animal rescue as a new licensing category in the city’s code or redefine commercial kennels. The council denied the request as the recommendation of the planning commission, which cited that commercial kennels are allowed in industrial and rural agricultural zones in the city but should not be allowed in residential areas. In-home rescues are still able to operate in residential zones but only if they have no more than four animals that are properly registered with the city.


The council also denied Strand’s request for a refund of the $250 filing fee upon the denial of the amendment. Council member Tiffany Stenglein voted against the refund denial.

Adopted a resolution supporting the funding of a second Amtrak passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

Adjourned to a groundbreaking ceremony for Memorial Park at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 11.

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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