Snow removal, winter parking guidelines to change in Brainerd
Brainerd City Council members approved changes to the city's noise ordinance and snow emergency ordinance during their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21.
BRAINERD — As Brainerd residents clear off their cars and dig themselves out of Mother Nature’s latest round of winter wrath, changes to snow removal and winter parking regulations are coming down the pipeline.
Soon, residents and any others removing snow from Brainerd properties with snowblowers or backpack leaf blowers will be able to do so any time of day.
City Council members approved an amendment to the city’s noise ordinance Tuesday, Feb. 21, exempting the aforementioned outdoor power equipment from the regulations and allowing them to be used for snow removal outside the hours of 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekends.
Staff brought the issue to the City Council in January after having received complaints about loud snow removal happening outside of the times listed in the ordinance. Other complaints, however, had come from those working to clear commercial properties and institutions like schools and churches to prepare for the early arrival of staff, students, customers and visitors and felt they were unable to do so in a timely fashion if they could not start before 6:30 a.m.
I understand the council does not feel the same way, but that is a reasonable request, and I will die on that sword.
Snowplows are not considered outdoor power equipment and therefore do not have time restraints imposed on their use.
No one spoke during the public hearing on the issue Tuesday, and the only person to publicly speak in opposition of the change was Mayor Dave Badeaux. Even though he does not get a vote in council matters except in the case of a tie, Badeaux made his feelings on the subject clear during past council meetings, saying he feels it is a reasonable request to ask that residents not use backpack leaf blowers before 6:30 a.m.
“I understand the council does not feel the same way,” Badeaux said, “but that is a reasonable request, and I will die on that sword.”
“Excellent,” Council President Kelly Bevans replied. “We’re looking forward to that.”
Council member Jeff Czeczok noted closed windows are a good way to muffle the sounds of outdoor noises.
“One thing I really appreciate about winter is when there’s noises outside, we always have our windows closed. And it’s such a muffling — it’s such a nice thing to have windows closed because it deadens the sound like you wouldn’t believe,” Czeczok said as other council members laughed. “I could sleep through a hurricane.”
“Or a backpack blower?” Bevans asked.
“Or a backpack blower,” Czeczok responded.
With unanimous approval, the ordinance revisions will go into effect one week after the change’s publication. Community Development Director James Kramvik expected the ordinance to be published in the paper Saturday, Feb. 25.
Snow emergency parking
Next winter, residents accustomed to on-street parking will have a new set of regulations to follow during snow emergencies after council members also approved changes to that ordinance Tuesday.
Currently, there is no parking allowed on all snow emergency routes and in the downtown district during the entire two days of a snow emergency. All north/south streets and streets west of the Mississippi River and south of Wright Street have restricted parking on Day 1, while the remaining east/west streets have restrictions on Day 2.
City Engineer/Public Works Director Jessie Dehn said in his memo to the council Tuesday these guidelines can be confusing and challenging for residents who park on streets west of the river and south of Wright Street to find nearby alternative parking on Day 1.
Instead, staff recommended simplifying the guidelines to prohibit parking on north/south streets on Day 1 and all east/west streets Day 2, eliminating mention of those west of the Mississippi River and south of Wright Street.
Dehn said staff will aim to clear all streets on Day 1 of a snow emergency and to clean up the east/west streets on Day 2 when parking is restricted, as the weather allows.
“Our priorities will continue to be snow emergency and main routes, as well as the throughways,” Dehn said. “Clearing on-street parking will take place as conditions allow.”
Council member Gabe Johnson said he did not think the changes were necessary.
“I think it’s just having the street department do less work than they have been doing for years, effectively,” Johnson said, noting he was most concerned about Charles and James streets.
“We just passed a motion to cut off access points on Washington Street to effectively turn those into service drives,” he continued, referring to plans for the 2026 redesign of Washington Street that include medians at some intersections in that area, restricting left turns off of Washington Street.
“But yet now we’re telling the street department we don’t expect you to plow those on the first day,” Johnson said. “You can promise me you’re going to try all day long, and I appreciate the promises, but I think it should be written in the ordinances that Charles Street and James Street are Day 1 streets.”
The measure passed 6-1, with Johnson opposed. The new guidelines will not go into effect until next winter, though, as Dehn said staff will use the fall months to communicate the change to residents.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .