Coffee shops are now allowed in B-2 zones in Brainerd.
However, roasting of coffee beans in the coffee shops in B-2 zones is not allowed.
The Brainerd City Council on Tuesday with a 5-2 vote adopted an ordinance allowing specialty shops that sell coffee, candy or ice cream in B-2 zones. Previously no such shops were allowed in the zones.
Voting for the ordinance were council members Lucy Nesheim, Anne Nelson Fisher, Bonnie Cumberland, Mary Koep and Bob Olson. Voting against were council members Kelly Bevans and Kevin Goedker.
A major sticking point for the council the past couple months has been whether to include language in the proposed ordinance that prohibited the roasting - not brewing - of coffee beans in shops in B-2 zones.
After several tries at an ordinance, including one that was vetoed by Mayor James Wallin, the council decided against allowing coffee bean roasting with a conditional use permit.
During the public hearing preceding the council's adoption of the ordinance, resident Marty Johnson said city regulations are keeping businesses out of Brainerd.
"I'm really wondering why we're having trouble with this," Johnson said. "We're sitting on 15.7 percent unemployment in Brainerd and denying business from coming in."
In voting against the ordinance, Goedker said he agreed with Johnson. He preferred an ordinance that allowed the council to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to issue a conditional use permit to allow coffee bean roasting on site.
"The message we're sending out to the business community is, 'Yes, we like business but we don't necessarily know if we want it in Brainerd.'"
Cumberland supported the ordinance because she said it protected the neighborhoods abutting B-2 zones.
Fisher pointed out the ordinance was not created for one specific site but for all B-2 zones in Brainerd. She supported the ordinance because of information from staff and through her own research that showed other municipalities that have dealt with complaints over odors and other effects from coffee bean roasting.
"It's up to us to avoid allowing nuisances to begin rather than dealing with them in hindsight later on," Fisher said.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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