Brainerd council denies Crestview Lane apartment proposal

Council members voted 4-3 to deny a conditional use permit for the project in March.

A look down the street at Crestview Lane and Buffalo Hills Lane
Crestview Lane neighborhood has single family homes, some twin homes and duplexes<br/>
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Brainerd City Council members do not want to see a five-unit apartment complex on Crestview Lane.

Members voted 4-3 at their meeting March 20 to deny a conditional use permit for the project that would have seen a complex at 2307 Crestview Lane, just south of Buffalo Hills Lane. They upheld that decision Monday, April 3, with unanimous approval for a resolution citing reasons for the denial.

Concerns about how the building would fit into the community factored into the decision.

“It doesn’t conform to the same thing that’s going on on that side of the block,” council member Mike O’Day said March 20.

The property is zoned contemporary neighborhood 2, which — according to city code — is intended for predominantly single-family detached residential uses. Lots in this district are typically developed with front-loaded garages and principal structures setback and connected to public right-of-way with a private driveway.


Multi-family dwellings of up to four units are allowed in this district administratively, as long as they meet code requirements, while any structure with five or more units is allowed only by conditional use.

The properties to the north and south of the proposed complex are zoned garden living, and the lot to the east is public/semi-public and is home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The garden living zone is intended for areas where urban services are available and lots and parcels are served by public water, sewer, stormwater, streets and other public infrastructure. This area is predominantly developed with single-family detached buildings and supporting accessory uses.

The property across the street to the west is zoned as contemporary neighborhood 2.

A Crestview Lane street sign
Crestview has single family homes, some twin homes and duplexes. Brainerd staff recommended approval of the apartment building as it adheres to the city's zoning code requirements.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

The 12-spot parking lot was a big issue for O’Day, who said parking lots do not belong in single-family neighborhoods, and noted the other homes in the area are single-family.

“No offense to the developer — I appreciate that you guys want to develop in the city, and we want development in the city — but we have to do it right,” O’Day said.

If a fourplex were built in that neighborhood, the zoning code would require it to have garages, which O’Day said would solve much of the problem for him.

Council members Kevin Stunek and Kara Terry had similar concerns, as did Gabe Johnson, who believes the property is zoned incorrectly.


“I think we made a mistake when we passed the zoning map last year, and I think we should probably change it to be a contemporary neighborhood 1 instead of 2,” Johnson said.

Contemporary neighborhood 1 is similar to the current zoning but typically deals with larger lots.

Even allowing a fourplex in this neighborhood, Johnson said, would be a mistake.

Council member Tiffany Stenglein, who acts as council liaison to the Planning Commission, was in favor of the proposal.

“What I think where we were coming out of in the planning commission is that we have expressed the need for more housing in our community … frankly for more density in a lot of our neighborhoods,” Stenglein said.While the Planning Commission was not necessarily thrilled with how the building looked, Stenglein said there were still changes that could be made to the design. The developer, MD Investments LLC, proposed creating visual interest by varying the types or direction of vinyl siding, adding a stone or brick to the facade, and adding an exterior door on Crestview Lane for one of the units. The landscape plan would provide screening with vegetation or a fence and planting around the building.

Planning commissioners recommended approval of the conditional use permit on a 4-2 vote earlier in March. During a public hearing at the Planning Commission’s meeting, several Crestview Lane residents spoke against the project, bringing concerns about how a five-unit complex would fit into their neighborhood.

With a motion on the floor to deny the permit March 20, O’Day, Johnson, Stunek and Terry voted for the denial, while Stenglin, Kelly Bevans and Jeff Czeczok were in favor of the project.

The vote garnered applause from the audience, which President Bevans quickly shut down.


“The developer’s here,” Bevans said. “He has feelings.”

With the denial winning out, council members had to vote on a formal resolution Monday, citing their specific reasons for the denial. Those reasons included the absence of front-facing garages in accordance with other residences in the area, the probability of higher traffic volumes for the complex and an inconsistency with the city’s future land use map.

Monday’s resolution passed unanimously.

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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