Brainerd council puts housing demolition restrictions into effect

The measure affects Brainerd's residentially zoned neighborhoods.

St. Francis Catholic Church in Brainerd.
A parking lot behind St. Francis Catholic Church in north Brainerd was expanded after the removal of a housing unit and trees.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — After previous pushback, Brainerd City Council members approved a measure aimed at preserving housing options in the city.

With no comments during a public hearing, unanimous approval came for a new ordinance that puts restrictions on the demolition of housing units in Brainerd’s four primary residential zones — Traditional Neighborhood 1 and 2 and Contemporary Neighborhood 1 and 2. Those zones cover most of north and northeast Brainerd, along with several parcels west of the Mississippi River, the area along Beaver Dam Road and much of south Brainerd outside of the downtown area and the Industrial Park.

Housing units in these areas cannot be torn down to make parking lots or greenspace, with three exceptions.

Demolition can happen if: a building permit is also issued at the same time to construct a replacement dwelling, a commercial new construction or remodel permit is issued at the same time to replace or convert a dwelling unit into commercial space in a TN-2 district, or if city council members have granted approval for an alternative use through a conditional use permit.

The ordinance does not apply in the following circumstances:


  • The demolition of dwelling units by the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the Economic Development Authority or Crow Wing County.
  • The removal of unsafe or hazardous structures by the city.
  • The demolition or relocation of any building owned by the city of Brainerd.
  • The city building official determines an exception is necessary because it is compelled by public safety due to an imminent hazardous condition requiring immediate demolition of the building.

Council members sent the ordinance back to staff for review late last year after representatives from Essentia Health and St. Francis of the Lakes Catholic Church expressed concerns about being able to expand their operations in the future if the ordinance passed. After hearing those concerns, staff added the third provision into the ordinance.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

Accepted donations to the Brainerd Fire Department: $2,167 from Culver’s for the PulsePoint program; $1,000 from Henry Praska for pagers; $425 from Henry Praska for self-contained breathing apparatus facepiece; $271.58 from Brainerd Fire Relief Association for wet/dry vacuums; $7,238.44 from Brainerd Fire Relief Association for an ice machine.

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Approved the final pay estimate to Nor-Son for the addition to the street department garage at a cost of $42,957.50

Approved an event application for the March for Life to take place from 12:45 p.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, on South Sixth and Laurel streets.

Authorized staff to apply for an Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety grant for the installation of a new gate and an operator at the public works facility. The grant would cover up to $10,000 in costs.

Appointed council liaisons to city commissions and committee for 2023-24: Kevin Stunek, Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission, Brainerd Community Action, The Center; Tiffany Stenglein, Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation Unified Fund, Planning Commission, Region Five Development Commission; Kara Terry, Brainerd Public Library Board, Fire Advisory Board, Northland Arboretum Board; Jeff Czeczok, Brainerd Public Utilities Commission, Rental Dwelling License Board of Appeals, Transit Advisory Committee; Mike O’day, Brainerd Riverfront Committee, Economic Development Authority; Gabe Johnson, Economic Development Authority, Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Kitchigami Regional Library System Board; Dave Badeaux, Parks Board.


Scheduled a joint workshop with the Parks Board at 6 p.m. Feb. 27, to discuss the 2024 parks capital budget and expectations for the budgeting process.

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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