Zoning Code Update

City of Brainerd

Brainerd, MN


The City of Brainerd, Minnesota is seeking professional planning services to lead the City in updating its zoning code. The City desires an approach that takes its current more traditional zoning standards and updates them in a way that specifically speaks to the unique character of the City's neighborhoods and commercial corridors with an emphasis on in-fill and mixed-use development and redevelopment while shifting the focus from primarily the use of development to the physical character of development. The final product must be an innovative, intuitive, highly-illustrative, and user-friendly code that will implement the vision of the City's comprehensive plan, which was updated and adopted by the City Council in October 2019.

Full RFP Document can be found on the City's website at: http://ci.brainerd.mn.us/

Proposals must be received by the City no later than 4:30p.m. on Friday, August 14, 2020 and should be addressed to:

City of Brainerd
Attn: David Chanski
501 Laurel St.
Brainerd, MN 56401

Submit three (3) hard copies of the proposal as well as an electronic version in a sealed mailing envelope, or package, with the responder's name and address written on the outside. The envelope, or package, must be clearly identified with "Zoning Code RFP" on the outside. At least one copy of the proposal must be signed in ink by an authorized member of the firm. Prices and terms of the proposal as stated must be valid until December 31, 2020, and for the length of any resulting contract. The City is not bound to enter into a contract with any respondent and may delay entering into a contract with any respondent for up to 4 months.


Incorporated in 1873 along the banks of the Mississippi River, the City of Brainerd is a chartered, home rule city located in and is the seat of Crow Wing County, serves as the economic and social hub for the 5 region area of Crow Wing, Cass, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena counties, and is approximately 100 miles from the Twin Cities. The City has an area of approximately 8.4 square miles and a population of approximately 13,465. The City's zoning code last underwent a significant update in 2008, and a major comprehensive plan update was adopted by the City Council in October 2019.

The majority of the City was developed prior to 1950, with much of the existing commercial and residential architecture as well as platting dating back to the late 1800's. While the City's planning commission dates back to the late 1950's, it did not have a dedicated planning operation until 1980's when the City hired its first city planner. Due to these factors, much of the community does not conform to most traditional zoning standards. As such, the City is seeking an approach that promotes the preservation and enhancement of the unique character of the City's neighborhoods and commercial corridors. Additionally, as the City is almost entirely built out, an emphasis on in-fill and mixed-use development and redevelopment that promotes a mix of housing types with an emphasis on site and building form while also improving residents' ability to find goods and services within close proximity to their homes is desired.

The City's zoning code can be found at: http://ci.brainerd.mn.us/212/Zoning-Code

The City's comprehensive plan can be found at: https://www.ci.brainerd.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/5324/Brainerd_ComprehensivePlan


The finished product should be a complete repeal and replace – entirely or in part – of the zoning code. The new code must be intuitive, highly-illustrative, and user-friendly. While the entirety of the zoning code shall be under review, specific attention should be focused on reducing the City's 18 zoning districts into compact mixed-use districts that speak to the unique character of each neighborhood and commercial corridor while shifting the focus from primarily the use of development to the physical character of development.

The Scope of Work should include the items listed below. City staff will work with the selected consultant to establish specific timelines, budget and deliverables for the project. The Consultant shall be responsible for writing the new zoning code, as well as providing guidance on best practices and trends, and checking assumptions.

  1. Diagnose Current Zoning Code
    • Review current code for inconsistencies and conflicts with best practices and trends.
    • Review the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The Consultant will identify goals, recommendations, and implementation strategies, to ensure the new code is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
    • Guide the City through discussions on desired changes to the zoning code and ultimate goals for the final product.
    • Develop recommendation for the use of form-based elements within the code.
    • Evaluate existing zoning districts and compare to the unique characteristics and needs of each neighborhood and commercial corridor.
    • Propose timeline for the completion of the new code, including if such policies such as development moratoriums should be put into place during the update process.
  2. Internal and External Outreach
    • Conduct input and process update sessions with internal stakeholders including but not limited to the City Council, Planning Commission, Economic Development Authority, and Housing & Redevelopment Authority.
    • Develop and execute a plan for informing and receiving input from the Brainerd community.
  3. Draft Document
    • Prepare drafts of the zoning ordinance, including graphics for review by staff, culminating in a final version to be presented to acted upon by the Planning Commission and City Council.
  4. Implementation
    • Work with City staff to make the new code interactive and accessible to the public.
    • Work with City staff to develop informational campaign regarding major changes to the code

Request Type
Friday, August 14, 2020

Contact Information

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