Brainerd will be considering a change to its rental housing ordinance that would reward property owners and managers for performing well on inspections and punishing those who don’t
The ordinance amendment, prepared by rental housing inspector Bill Kronstedt based on ideas from the regular rental property meetings, introduces a new point system that gives points to properties based on faults found during inspections.
If a property is inspected and receives zero to 12 points, it will thereafter be inspected on a regular three-year cycle; 13 to 25 points with at least four violations results in inspections every two years; and 26 or more points per unit at least five violations results in yearly inspections.
If additional inspections are needed there will be a $50 fee due within 30 days. Failure to pay results in suspension of rental license.
“We’re trying to promote a better rental environment,” Kronstedt said.
Kronstedt said a possibility for landlords who do well on inspections could be expanding the number of years between inspections.
“This gives the landlord some kind of encouragement to do a better job,” Kronstedt said.
Property owner David Pueringer said he had concerns with the ordinance. He said the existing rental property ordinance has worked well in the five years since it’s existed. He said there have been no deaths in rental properties and only two or three instances of prosecution.
“A reward is by leaving us alone,” Pueringer said. “It seems again that the city council is being led into taking a sledge hammer to a minor problem.”
Rick Fargo, a property manager, said the intent of the ordinance amendment would be to punish property owners who don’t know what they are doing. Pueringer, he noted, was not in that group.
“I’m tired of hearing that renters, and rental owners, are second class citizens in Brainerd,” Fargo said.
Rental property owner Dianna Lorimor wanted to keep the existing ordinance. Property owner Mike Murphy said he was against the original ordinance, wanted his properties to be treated like residential property and asked the council to leave rental property owners alone.
The council took no action Monday.
In other action, the council:
Received an update from City Engineer Jeff Hulsether on nuisance abatements. Hulsether noted 15 or 29 unlicensed or inoperable vehicles were abated, all five garbage issues were abated and 68 of 117 junk problems abated. A few citations will be issued, he said. The contractor hired by the city to abate nuisances did so on 15 properties at a cost of $1,327. Hulsether noted some parcels not identified earlier have now been added to the nuisance list, and some mailings that went to the wrong addresses have been taken care of.
Received a brief overview from City Planner Mark Ostgarden on the proposed changes to the city’s zoning map. Ostgarden noted a change in high density uses in the central corridor to the city and the addition of another single family zone. Council President Mary Koep said she hoped residents would be aware of the proposed changes and bring their concerns to the city. She noted the addition of two commercial zones near the intersection of Wise and Beaver Dam roads. The proposed zoning map may be viewed at city hall or at the city’s website at www.ci.brainerd.mn.us. The issue will be on the council’s Aug. 15 agenda for a presentation, with consideration by the council in September.
Set a date to tour Ascensus on Aug. 30.
Directed City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick to work with Ostgarden on an issue of a mobile home being moved into southeast Brainerd without being hooked up to city services. Ostgarden said the owner was given until Aug. 1 to remove the home, and signed a letter stating he would, but has not done so. Koep wanted the city to be sensitive because the family could be in a financial hardship. Council member Bob Olson said if there are violations the city should move forward with correcting them. “No excuses,” Olson said.
Was informed the Brainerd town meeting would be from 6-8:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 at the Brainerd Fire Hall.
Approved two 30 mph speed limit signs at Northwest Seventh and Jackson streets, and to have staff do a feasibility study for a roundabout at the intersection with the next major reconstruction project there.
Approved “Resident Parking” signs on the northwest side of North First Street between Juniper and Ivy streets.
Was informed by City Administrator Dan Vogt that Brainerd’s local government aid will be unchanged in 2011 and 2012, but that market value homestead credit will be reduced. Vogt said the city gets $290,000 in credit and he didn’t know how much it would be reduced. The city doesn’t budget for the credit.
Was informed the park board would be considering a change to the job description of the park director to require a bachelor’s degree, preferably in park administration but not required; and advertising the position internally for at least three days.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.