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Brainerd Council waives assessments for Habitat houses

Lakes Area Habitat For Humanity plans to build two homes in 2023 on Oak Street and First Avenue Northeast in Brainerd.

Council members sit in chambers
Brainerd City Council and staff members discuss matters during their meeting Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — The Brainerd City Council waived outstanding assessments on three parcels of land to allow Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity to build houses.

The nonprofit’s leaders are interested in acquiring the three tax-forfeited lots to build single-family homes next year.

The City Council’s Personnel and Finance Committee heard about the properties during its meeting Monday, Aug. 15. The first is 1108 Oak St., which is a vacant lot where the county previously demolished a home. There is $4,241.61 in outstanding principal and interest from nuisance assessments on the property for mowing, junk and other citations from 2012-18.

The property also has a $12,000 lien from a grant from the Community Development Block Grant program from 1983, payable only on the transfer of ownership. According to the city’s legal counsel, City Administrator Jennifer Bergman told the committee there is a 15-year statute of limitations on liens against property, so the chances the city would be able to collect on that lien are slim.

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The other two parcels are 504 and 506 First Ave. NE, and they are also vacant lots where the county previously demolished the homes. There is $1,301.38 in outstanding principal and interest from nuisance assessment for mowing, junk and other citations on these properties as well. Habitat for Humanity plans to combine the lots and build one larger single-family home on the two parcels in 2023.

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Kevin Pelkey, executive director of Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity, told the committee Monday the Oak Street property is especially appealing because it is in an area the city is already working to bring affordable housing.

“But I’ve got to tell you, if it has $16-17,000 of assessments on it, it’s not a worthwhile lot for me to acquire,” Pelkey said. “It will just remain vacant for however long, but we’d love the opportunity.”

Pelkey said Habitat for Humanity just approved families to receive houses in 2023, and nearly all of them are Brainerd applicants.

With the council unanimously agreeing to waive the assessments and forgive the lien, the county can convey the lots to the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which can then sell them to Habitat for Humanity at a low cost.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

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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