After Gov. Tim Walz announced his Stay Safe orders, Brooklyn Center’s City Council is considering establishing regulatory flexibility to allow for retailers, churches, and other establishments to open in compliance with the orders.
That is, as businesses, restaurants, churches and other retailers reopen to limited capacities or outdoor service, city ordinances are likely to be in conflict with the governor’s orders. For instance, a local zoning code may not allow a restaurant to serve food in its parking lot under normal circumstances, but the governor’s orders allow for outdoor service in such an area.
As a result, those businesses are likely to request temporary changes to local ordinances to allow for outdoor seating and service. Rather than take a longer, more formal process of the council amending those ordinances, the council may establish a policy allowing those activities. Certain powers may also be delegated to the city manager to make exceptions to the city’s ordinances and implement the intent of the governor’s order.
“[Walz] created more opportunities for churches, for businesses, and for other types of operations to gather and to retail and to sell products,” said Curt Boganey, city manager. “He required that when they do that, they follow certain safe practices, hygienic practices, distance practices … he has authorized activities that would not normally be allowed under local ordinances … unfortunately, following those practices would mean that businesses and other authorized activities would be stuck in this situation where the governor has said ‘yes, you can do these things,’ and the local government is saying ‘well, our ordinances don’t allow that.”
Businesses will likely have requests that the city has not yet anticipated, Boganey said, so the council could delegate some powers to the city manager to make exceptions quickly.
The council discussed the prospect in a limited capacity at its May 26 meeting. While city staff members did not have specific details for the proposal, the issue will be readdressed in detail at the council’s reconvened May 29 meeting, after the Sun Post’s press time.
Mayor Mike Elliott questioned how the proposal would fit into the city, the mayor, and the council’s existing powers granted in its emergency declaration and charter but did not say he would vote against the proposal when it came back before the council.
Councilmember Dan Ryan said there was an “obvious need” to take such steps. Councilmember April Graves asked that the city contact local businesses to try to address as many needs as possible before moving forward with the ordinance.
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