PZ administrator to become Nisswa city planner

Cotner agrees to stay with Nisswa as city planner instead of leaving for another job

Brittney Cotner, a new face at Nisswa City Hall as the city's planning and zoning administrator, considers her cool, analytical nature a benefit in her out-of-the-ordinary hobby. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal
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Nisswa won’t lose its planning and zoning administrator after all.

Instead, Brittney Cotner will become city planner at a higher salary after the Nisswa City Council unanimously agreed to change from having a planning and zoning administrator to having a city planner. The council agreed to offer the new position to Cotner, and she accepted.

At a special meeting Monday, Feb. 1, City Administrator Jenny Max told the council that when she learned Cotner was offered a position at Sourcewell in Staples and subsequently resigned to take that job, Max wondered if the city should update that position, considering what the city’s real needs and goals should be over the next 20-plus years.

The council supported that endeavor, she said, and Max recommended the council:

  • Change the position from a planning and zoning administrator to a city planner.

  • Approve the city planner position at a grade 15 on the city’s salary schedule

  • Offer the opportunity for Cotner to stay as city planner at pay grade 15, step 3 (currently the position is at grade 13, step 3). This would result in a pay rate change from $26.60 per hour to $29.89 per hour.

The council unanimously agreed to the recommendations.
Cotner joined the city in May 2019 and her last day was to be Wednesday, Feb. 17.


Council members believed having a city planner was a step in the right direction. Council member Don Jacobson said adding site inspections to the job description was needed. Once issued, permits were seldom checked to ensure conditions were being met, he said.

Jacobson said he’d like the city planner to take the comprehensive plan off the shelf and use it as a template for long-range planning for the city since so much time, energy and money were spent on the plan.

Other council members liked the emphasis on long-term planning for the city, and they agreed the salary change was fair.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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