Chamber Blog

Ruth Ann Hanson, Chamber Area Director
Ruth Ann Hanson
Lisa Paxton, Chamber CEO
Lisa Paxton
Kathi Nagorski
Kathi Nagorski
Shannon Janco
Shannon Janco

Brainerd City Council Meeting, February 16, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The chambers were packed at last night's City Council meeting. Most of the people were there for a public hearing covering several street reconstruction projects in the city – mainly in residential areas.

The Brainerd City Council approved moving forward with only a few of the many street reconstruction and resurfacing projects planned for Summer 2010. All of the projects proposed projects were on the first year of the 5-year Capital Improvement Program because of their age and condition. Several residents along the streets spoke during the meeting with questions, concerns about cost or ongoing street maintenance.
Street projects approved include:
  • North 5th Street – Washington to Bluff
  • North 9th Street – Kingwood to Fir Street
  • Holly Street – North 3rd to North 10th Street
  • Kingwood Street – North 2nd Street to Washington Street
  • Tyrol Drive
  • NW 2nd Street – Washington to James Street
The Council approved doing background checks for people on City commissions, committees, employees, and license applicants.

The Council approved a 5-year lease for the Northwoods league (Brainerd Lunkers) to continue to use the Mills Field.

Currently the City Charter requires that property owners pay for sidewalk repairs 100% and the Council is considering changing this. To that end, they asked the Charter Commission to return drafted Charter changes with a recommendation of whether or not to have the public vote on this issue.

In an effort to become more competitive for state or federal grants, the Council approved having staff prepare these projects to be more "shovel ready":
  1. City's 5 year plan for street and utilities improvements
  2. Utility extension to the airport
  3. Business 371 realignment and reconstruction
Emily Northey, Chamber Main Street Coordinator, enorthey@explorebrainerdlakes.com

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Vacation Homes, Fishing Guides, and Policy Talk

Friday, February 5, 2010

I was in St. Paul yesterday for three meetings. The first was with Explore Minnesota Tourism staff to review research about lodging tax trends in MN with EMT staff, Scott Harrison from Lutsen Resort, and Fred Bobich, Ruttger’s Sugar Lake Lodge. The research was completed by the U of M Tourism Center at the rest of organizations in northeast Minnesota – the results will be released in about 60 days.

The second meeting was a public policy meeting at EMT, a committee I have the honor to chair. The Department of Health presented information changing the definition of lodging to include vacation home rentals, we reviewed resolutions to support maintaining the post labor day school start and the current law that designates lodging tax for marketing purposes, and draft language about online travel company taxes. All topics were discussed and positions recommended for the full EMT council next week.

In addition, there was intense conversation about the Coast Guard enforcement of licenses on waters controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers. Apparently the law has been in effect for years but has not been enforced. It affects Gull and Whitefish chains, and Mille Lacs. The current law requires a federal “six pack” license to operate boats commercially – this includes fishing guides, pontoon rides by resorters, resort staff transferring boats between docks, etc. The “six pack” was not designed for most inland lakes or rivers nor for small vessels such as 16-20 foot outboard boats. We are drafting a resolution to oppose this stringent requirement.

In addition, there is a requirement that all licensed mariners possess a transportation worker’s identity card (TWIC) - intended to help comply with security measures on larger vessels and commercial ports. Congressman Oberstar has proposed an amendment to HR 3619 to clarify that only mariners who enter designated secure areas of larger vessels need to obtain TWIC cards. The bill has passed the house but not the senate – so everyone is encouraged to call their senator to support the amendment.

Finally, I had the pleasure to attend the annual Minnesota Chamber Session Priorities dinner with a dozen volunteer leaders from the Brainerd Lakes area and Senators Koering and Olson, and Representative Ward and Howes. We enjoyed opening comments from Governor Pawlenty (you may have heard or seen some of his comments on radio, tv, or newspaper today), as well as interviews with House and Senate leadership about the session.

After a white knuckle drive back to the Brainerd Lakes area, we were home about 12:30 a.m. this morning.

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Brainerd City Council - February 1, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

During last night's Brainerd City Council meeting, City Housing Inspector Bill Kronstedt presented information on administrative citations. Other cities have used administrative citations to more effectively decrease nuisance calls, increase property values, and free up the court systems.

Typical violations addressed by administrative citations in other communities include vehicle, signs, trees, nuisance, building violations, hazardous conditions, etc. The current ordinance addresses administrative citations, but as soon as a violation is contested (e.g. the person doesn't want to clean-up their back yard) it goes into the court system causing delays and labeling citizens as criminals for what are essentially civil matters.

The Council had some questions about the details of such a system, but will ask those again once more research and writing has been completed. The City Council approved directing staff to begin drafting ordinances to implement an administrative citation method of addressing violations.

Mayor Wallin presented Robert Sherman with a Tower Award for his service on the Transportation Committee and Planning Commission.

The City Council approved recognizing multi-family housing as residential, not commercial, for the purposes of waste removal to encourage recycling.


Emily Northey, Chamber Main Street Coordinator, enorthey@explorebrainerdlakes.com.

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