Discussion on limiting superstores in Brainerd will be part of the city's comprehensive planning process.
The Brainerd City Council Monday, on a recommendation from the Brainerd Planning Commission, unanimously voted to delay a superstore decision until the comprehensive planning committee has looked at the issue.
An motion by council member Deb Olander to place a moratorium on retail spaces of more than 150,000 square feet while awaiting the comprehensive plan provided controversy, as other council members said Olander wasn't going through the proper channels with her request.
"We went through this issue at great length (at the Brainerd Planning Commission meeting) Thursday and you were there," said Scheeler, who's also on the planning commission, to Olander. "I'm surprised you're asking for a motion here, when you sat for two hours (at Thursday's planning meeting) and didn't bring it up."
Although Olander didn't bring up the issue of a moratorium at Thursday's Brainerd Planning Commission meeting, Lake Country Journal magazine publisher Chip Borkenhagen directly asked the commission to consider a moratorium while the superstore issue is being investigated.
Scheeler also questioned the legality of Olander's motion, but Brainerd City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick said it was at the council's discretion if members chose to place a moratorium on superstores.
Olander rescinded her motion and the city council, by a 4-3 vote, referred the moratorium issue to the planning commission. Voting against referring the issue to the planning commission were Scheeler, council member Jim Dehen and council member Bob Olson -- the members of the Safety and Public Works Committee.
Although no superstore has made an inquiry or proposal to locate in Brainerd, an area group, the Brainerd Lakes Area Coalition for Responsible Development, has argued superstores such as Target superstores, Wal-Mart Super Center, and Costco devastate communities by driving other stores out of business and that the city needs to be proactive in protecting its smaller stores.
"We need to set the ground rules ahead of time," said coalition chair Ed Shaw, a Brainerd attorney.
The coalition Thursday asked the Brainerd Planning Commission to consider an ordinance limiting the size of a store to 100,000 square feet and requiring an economic impact statement be conducted before approval or denial of any large development -- especially major retail.
A city can impose a restriction on a store for purposes of protecting public health, safety or welfare, said Fitzpatrick.
The city's comprehensive plan update is scheduled to begin later this month.
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