Who is responsible for this Brainerd sign debacle?

16 10 2016

Who is responsible for this Brainerd sign debacle? Come to the Brainerd City Council meeting on Monday, October 17, 2016, to find out.

One of the biggest concerns I have with this whole situation is that previously (when I was on the Council) the direction from the Council to staff was only address signs that were a safety concern. Now, the rumor is that two Council members came to the City Administrator and told him to start enforcing the ordinance to the fullest. To me, I would think it should be an open, public discussion with the entire Council, before making any changes, as we have done in the past. The discussion by the Council at the September 6, 2016 meeting was there would “be no changes in the ordinance or its enforcement.”- Kelly Bevans, Council Member. To me that means the same as it has been for years and only address the safety concerns. We can’t have one or two Council members making decisions for the entire Council. If the entire Council was in agreement with the changes, then how did that conclusion happen without a public discussion? I feel that would be a violation of the Open Meeting Law. There are just so many unanswered questions here. The citizens deserve answers. Now, the city has extremely restricted garage sales and open houses, to name a few things. This affects everyone. That is why everyone should show up at the City Council meeting on Monday night or contact your Council Member to find out.

The City of Brainerd went out of their way to pick up as many lawn signs as they could on Friday. Real Estate signs, candidate signs, garage sale signs, job signs, you name it they seemed to target all of them, however, citizens have some major concerns over how all this went down.

Signs in the right of way are not allowed in Brainerd. However, that law has not been enforced in the past, unless it was a safety concern. Why? Because real estate signs are a critical piece to the marketing of a home, in fact 51% of home buyers use signs as an information source during their home search, per the 2015 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. In many cases, if signs weren’t allowed to be put in the right away and actually be seen, it would have a major detrimental impact on the marketing of a home, not something Brainerd real estate needs right now. And, political signs are only up for a short season and should only be aggressively gone after if they are not picked up after the election. People deserve to be able to voice their 1st Amendment rights. Garage sale signs are even more temporary and significantly assist citizens in drawing people to their sale.

Yes, there are people that abuse the use of signs, but those safety concern signs should be targeted, not everyone. Candidates were notified by letter and e-mail, but not garage sale citizens. Real estate professionals know the requirements, however the law has never been enforced to this extent before and it is an unnecessary restriction on their business. Real estate agents are independent small business owners and a situation like this is an example of why there is a perception that Brainerd is anti-business.

Another point is that citizens are required to maintain their right away. They have to mow them and shovel the sidewalks. It would seem reasonable that they could put a sign where it could actually be visible.

The law should have been changed, but there hasn’t been enough council support to get it changed.

Why did they do it right before the weekend, making it difficult to do much about it until Monday?

How do you know for sure where the right of way is? We heard it is USUALLY 66 feet, which means that is not always the case. So, you assume that it is 66 feet which means you walk 33 feet from the center of the road towards your property to find out where your property actually starts. Don’t try that on a busy road, though. So they suggest it is USUALLY about 12 feet behind the curb. Those two suggestions can point to a different position. I have heard that in some cases it is 12 feet, 15 feet or 20 feet. Some roads have different widths of pavement, making the distance behind the curb different. How can the average person be expected to guess where the right of way is? It also appears that the City picked some and didn’t pick some in the right of way.

After all the effort from several city workers to load up the signs and then unload the signs, wouldn’t it have been easier to just move the signs over to where the city FELT was acceptable?

The situation as it played out is unacceptable and an overstretching of authority by a couple of council members that should be held accountable. Attend the Brainerd City Council meeting on Monday, October 17, 2016, 7:30pm at City Hall, 501 Laurel Street, Brainerd.

Why can’t we just go back to the idea that if they aren’t a safety issue, leave them alone?

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