BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council on Tuesday approved amending the zoning ordinance to pave the way for more buildings to be used as indoor recreation spaces.

The decision allows indoor recreation facilities as permitted special uses in the B-1, B-2, I-1, I-2 and I-1R districts, according to an attachment to the agenda, available on the city’s website. The use would be permitted so long as it is contained within the building and all equipment and materials are stored inside the building. 


Indoor recreation facilities are a permitted use in the Ag, B-3, and B-4 districts, as well as in the B-5 by a conditional use permit, according to the attachment. All residential districts allow for public recreational facilities with a conditional use process. 

“There are numerous community athletic clubs that are seeking indoor recreation spaces for practice facilities. These clubs/teams are looking to use empty or unused warehouse spaces as practice facilities,” according to the memo by Staci Bungard, city planner, which is attached to the agenda.

The sports teams, especially youth sports, want a place that they can utilize year-round, especially in the winter months, said Mike Struck, director of Community Development, at the meeting.

Owners of larger buildings have been asking about options for adaptive re-use for the buildings, Struck added. Those buildings in the industrial or heavy commercial districts have the size to accommodate the needs of recreation teams.

“Businesses would also be allowed to have indoor recreation and gym facilities for their employees. Increased access to indoor recreation areas will have positive community benefits for physical fitness, families, employees and teams,” according to Bungard’s memo.

The zoning ordinance will clarify what the city allows, Struck said.


Alan Hess spoke in favor of the change.

“When people think indoor rec facility, they think of some giant, city-funded behemoth, but I think this is a great opportunity for smaller organizations like the (Midwest) Maidens or like Brookings fast-pitch – which I’m on the board of – to take matters into our own hands when you have a certain opportunity in these other zoned areas to do things on our own without any type of public funding,” Hess said. “I really think it’s a great amendment.”

Being able to lease an indoor facility would help Brookings fast-pitch keep up with the Sioux Falls teams, he added.

Lisa Rathbun is on the Midwest Maidens roller derby team, which, for several years, had been practicing at the Old Armory until it was closed to the public in September. The team struggled to find another place to skate because they need quite a bit of space to practice, she said.

Some property owners said they couldn’t even consider letting the team use their building because they didn’t want to be in violation of the zoning ordinance, she said.

“I think that’s a great idea” to amend the ordinance, she said.

“I think that would help two different groups, help those people who do have the empty buildings that are willing to do something with them, and help the groups that are looking for an indoor space nine months out of the year when it’s cold here,” Rathbun said.

Struck explained how the amended ordinance would keep buildings in various districts in compliance and remove the doubt some property owners have.

The council voted 6-0 in favor.

Mayor Keith Corbett was absent; Deputy Mayor Patty Bacon presided over the meeting Tuesday. Councilor Nick Wendell was present by phone.

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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