After listening to hours of public input from vacation rental operators, concerned neighbors, resort owners and other interested citizens, the Crow Wing County Board Tuesday, Dec. 31, decided to delay a decision on an ordinance that would license and regulate short-term vacation rentals.
Dozens of people shared their opinions and suggestions with commissioners during a public hearing on the proposed ordinance, which outlines requirements for annual licensure along with regulations concerning septic systems and solid waste, occupancy, noise, parking and conformity with existing county and state requirements. How to balance property rights of those operating vacation rentals with neighbors impacted by the properties was a running theme through the testimony, which ranged from full-throated approval of regulation to passionate rebukes of government overreach.
“It is the purpose and intent of this ordinance to regulate short-term rentals within Crow Wing County,” the draft ordinance states. “To continue the allowed use of private vacation rental homes, but also mitigate possible adverse impacts to the health, safety, and welfare of surrounding properties, as well as water and environmental quality, through the establishment of a licensing program for the review and approval of vacation rental home operations.”
The ordinance states short-term rentals will not be allowed to operate in the county without an annual license and defines these rentals as “any home, cabin, condominium or similar building that is advertised as, or held out to be, a place where sleeping quarters are furnished to the public on a nightly, weekly, or for less than a 30-day time period and is not a bed and breakfast, resort, hotel or motel.”
The ordinance would also limit overnight occupancy to no more than four adults per bedroom plus one additional person per building, or no more than the septic system is designed to handle; establish quiet hours between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.; and require the person in charge of the establishment to “permit access to all parts of the establishment at any reasonable time for the purpose of inspection as often as deemed necessary.”
After the nearly three-hour-long public hearing, commissioners discussed their comfort level with taking action Tuesday, given what County Administrator Tim Houle and others described as a valid points raised and potential fixes to the draft ordinance. Commissioner Paul Koering made a motion to table the matter until Dec. 29, 2020, which failed for lack of a second. Ultimately, commissioners decided to table the matter until Jan. 28, when the draft ordinance will again be on the agenda. At that time, commissioners may decide to vote on the ordinance or could discuss potential changes to the ordinance, should staff members propose any.