Sober home regulations prompt council discussion

Brainerd's planning commission will explore the issue more thoroughly with the city attorney.

Brainerd City Council members discuss matters during their meeting Monday, June 7, 2021. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

Can cities regulate sober houses, and to what extent?

The Brainerd City Council took up this issue June 7 after concerns arose about the opening of a new sober home on Tyrol Drive.

Sheila Haverkamp is in the process of renovating a sober home at 470 Tyrol Drive, a few houses down from another sober home at 460 Tyrol Drive. Neighborhood residents brought concerns before the planning commission in May with regard to parking, noise (loud motorcycles), number of people living in the homes and having two sober homes within such close proximity to one another.

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None of the concerns, Community Development Director David Chanski said, related to city code violations. In fact, the city has never issued an ordinance violation at Haverkamp’s sober home on Tyrol Drive nor the one she runs on North 10th Street.

Council President Kelly Bevans asked City Attorney Joe Langel how much the city can regulate sober homes, taking into account the Federal Fair Housing Act, which mandates municipalities to make reasonable accommodations for disabled people. Those recovering from chemical dependency are considered disabled under the Federal Fair Housing Act.


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Langel cited the city of St. Paul, which regulates how close sober homes can be to one another. In terms of how many people live in one home, Langel said that depends on the building code. The city follows state building codes, Chanski said, which determines maximum occupancy based on the size and number of bedrooms.

Before moving forward with any regulations, council members suggested looking deeper into what is and is not allowed under the Federal Fair Housing Act and looking at St. Paul’s ordinance pertaining to sober homes.

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The council directed Langel to work with the planning commission on those issues and bring an update back to the council.

In other business June 7, the council:

Approved a lawful gambling application from WeARE Advocates for Reproductive Education for an Aug. 18 event in the Laurel Street parking lot.

Approved a lawful gambling premises permit from Garrison Fire Relief for lawful gambling to occur at C.C.’s Bar on Washington Street.

Approved a tobacco license application from HA Smokey’s Tobacco on Washington Street.

Approved a temporary on-sale liquor license application from Carl Sydney Hanson Post 255 for an event June 12 at St. Andrew’s Church.


Approved the hiring of temporary 2021 employees: Erick Reckard, global information systems and information technology intern, $15 an hour; and Riley Backstrom, Brainerd Public Utilities electrician intern, $22 an hour. Sourcewell may reimburse the city for a portion of the wages.

Approved a cooperative agreement with the Minnesota Statewide All-Hazard Management Team, which works to train, equip, maintain and deploy members to incidents both in and out of MInnesota. The Brainerd Fire Department has had an active member on the team since 2017.

Authorized the fire department to sell an old Kawasaki Mule utility terrain vehicle and trailer via public auction site.

Promoted two police department members: Sgt. John Davis to deputy police chief, earning $44.79 an hour, and Officer Joel Reed to sergeant, earning $36.74 an hour.

Authorized the hiring of Andrew Thielke as a community service officer, earning $12 an hour.

Accepted the retirement of Sandra Anderson, police records management lead, effective Sept. 25, and authorized staff to backfill the position.

Promoted Robert Anderson from street maintenance I to street maintenance II, earning $27.53 an hour.

Approved a franchise agreement with Consolidated Telephone Co. for the next 10 years, with the franchise fee remaining at 5% of CTC’s gross revenue.


Authorized staff to pay the remaining balance on the 2021-22 lease for the Burlington Northern parking lot off Front Street at a cost of $11,881.34. The parking commission will discuss the future of the lot moving forward.

Issued a nuisance abatement refund to a homeowner on South Eighth Street who purchased the home but was not made aware of pending assessments on the property. The notice for a hearing to contest the assessment was sent to the previous homeowner. The refund is $866.36.

Approved an event application for the Fourth of July celebration, with a parade 6-8 p.m. and fireworks 10:15-11 p.m.

Approved a change order for the Northwest Fourth Street construction project in the amount of $17,747.87, to be reimbursed by state aid funds. Crews noticed a conflict with the existing water main when placing the new storm sewer system.

Sold a parcel of land along Highway 25 to the state of Minnesota for $4,000 to further the state’s Highway 25 bridge replacement project slated for 2023.

Approved a contract with Independent Testing Technologies for testing services on the Madison Street and southeast Brainerd road construction projects at a cost of $8,550.

Approved the final plat for the Myrha Addition to Brainerd Oaks, replatting Outlot B of the development to allow Eric and Dawn Myrha to build a single-family dwelling on the property. Council members Gabe Johnson and Mike O’Day voted against the motion.


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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