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Vacation home rentals less than an ideal situation for some Ideal Township residents

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A Whitefish Lake couple requested Monday, July 14, that the Ideal Township Board explore the possibility of an ordinance that limits how often private homeowners may rent their lake home properties.

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Bob and Mary Kvam, who live on Old Whiskey Road on the south end of Whitefish Lake, brought the board a petition signed by 17 neighbors who support regulations for private homeowners who rent their lake homes more than three or four times a year. Kvam said they would like the Minnesota Department of Health to oversee these frequently rented vacation homes, much like how the department does for small bed and breakfasts and resorts.

The Kvams said their neighbor, an Eagan resident, has been renting his lake home for a couple of years. This summer, Kvam said the home is rented every week with steady turnover. He said the property, which is in close proximity to his home, looks like a used car lot with several vehicles and boats parked outside, and there are usually many people occupying the home at one time, causing noise problems.

He said the garbage can is always overflowing and the property has had septic problems.

Kvam said recently there were about 16-20 people having a bachelor party next door and they were extremely noisy.

"They were going to have strippers, but I interceded," Kvam told the board.

What has bothered Kvam the most, he told the board, was when a renter's two large dogs came onto his own property to try to attack his own 3-pound Yorkshire terrier, who was on a leash.

"Something has to be done if I can't have my dog on a leash on my property without having the neighbor's renter's dogs go after my dog," said Kvam.

Kvam said he has never called the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department on his neighbor or renters, but instead said he has been trying to work it out with his neighbor, who is a "nice, young kid." But Kvam said it's gotten to the point where he will contact law enforcement in the future, and he doesn't like having to do that.

Township supervisor Jim Brandt questioned whether the property owner was paying the lodging tax collected by the Whitefish Area Lodging Association (WALA). Any property owner who continuously rents property to guests for 30 days or more in Crosslake, Ideal Township, Jenkins or Jenkins Township must collect a 1 percent lodging tax from their guests, in addition to the Minnesota sales and use tax.

WALA collects the lodging tax, and Ideal Township serves as the nonprofit organization's fiscal agent.

Township clerk John Plein said the property owner was on a list of homeowners known to rent their lake homes who received information about the lodging tax in the mail a year ago, so he would be aware of the tax.

Tom Watson, president of the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association, said he has personally dealt with similar complaints from homeowners who live next door to rental lake homes. One landlord had to increase the rental home's septic drain field and holding tank to accommodate the increased septic usage, Watson said.

He said he believes existing regulations can be used in Kvam's situation. He said some property rentals may have to be rezoned or taxed differently, based on their use.

Watson said the fire department was recently called to a Clamshell Lake rental property because so many vehicles were parked on both sides of the narrow roadway, creating a safety hazard because fire trucks could not get by in case of an emergency.

"Let's make sure we apply the regulations we've already got," said Watson.

David Moe, owner of Clamshell Beach Resort, said he would support an Ideal Township Board resolution on this issue. He said he had a guest tell him that he had previously rented a private lake home on Whitefish and when he walked into the rental, it smelled like gas so he called 911.

While the situation turned out fine, and the man's children enjoyed climbing on the Ideal fire trucks that arrived for the call, Moe said Ideal Township is then put into the position of becoming like property managers by having to respond to these types of calls.

Instead, Moe said his job as a resort owner is to offer amenities and take care of renters who choose to stay at his resort, rather than stay at private vacation homes.

About 15 people attended Monday's meeting. Brandt told the Kvams that the township would need to research the issue and discuss it again within the next couple of months, possibly at the next board meeting Aug. 11.

The city of Breezy Point has an ordinance related to how often private homes may be rented, and Crosslake previously had a similar ordinance that was removed after Crow Wing County took over the city's planning and zoning responsibilities, the board learned.

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