Three residents who said they want to be good neighbors but just can’t take it anymore shared their issues with specific short-term rental homes in Crosslake on Thursday, July 29, when the city council and Crow Wing County officials met to talk about the topic.

One person who owns two short-term rental properties in Crosslake defended owners who do follow the rules and are good neighbors.

“Something’s gotta happen. We can’t live this way. We can’t have neighbors wanting to leave,” said Jeff Pfaff, talking about a short-term rental property on County Road 3.

Pfaff shared his concerns with the council at its regular meeting in July, asking the city to take some kind of action. Concerns he and two others cited included noise, garbage, language, too many vehicles and people, parties, dogs and illegal fireworks at the specific rental properties.


"I live next door to a commercial hotel with high volumes of people who are disruptive to my and my neighbors’ life."

— Rob Chapman, Crosslake resident


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The council and those at the meeting learned that anyone with concerns about short-term rental properties should document what is happening and call a Crow Wing County hotline number when the problems are occurring. Similarly, they should call police for noise or parking issues when they are occurring.

Don’t wait to call the next day or days later, they were told.

Crow Wing County implemented a short-term rentals ordinance at the start of this year, which covers municipalities and offers the 24-hour hotline and an online complaint form (see fact box). The ordinance requires such properties to be licensed and follow a set of rules.

Crosslake council members were told if the city implemented its own such ordinance with licensing requirements, properties would have to pay for both the city and county license.

Issues

Pfaff said since the council meeting he attended, he did his research and now understands better what actions violate the county ordinance.

He did say he was on hold for more than 20 minutes when he called the county to lodge a complaint.

Rob Chapman attended the July 29 meeting online via Zoom. He lives next door to the property being talked about and said he’s talked to government officials and the property owners, but the discussion becomes circular with nothing changing.

“I live next door to a commercial hotel with high volumes of people who are disruptive to my and my neighbors’ life,” he said, noting the need is to get the bad actors out of the game and enforce regulations.

Talking about another rental, Mark Lindner said there have been many times when he wanted to call the police, but he was trying to be a nice neighbor and didn’t want to bother the police. Pfaff said the same at the regular council meeting in July.


"You’re a taxpayer. We work for you. Call us. It’s not bothering us. You need to call us so we’re aware of what ‘s going on. We want you to call."

— Crosslake Police Sgt. Eric Swanson


Bother us

Crosslake Police Sgt. Eric Swanson said they frequently hear that people don’t want to bother them.

“You’re a taxpayer. We work for you. Call us. It’s not bothering us. You need to call us so we’re aware of what ‘s going on,” Swanson said. “We want you to call.

“We can’t fix it if we don’t know about it,” he said later.

Crosslake police are now documenting calls that are specifically related to home rentals.

Gary Griffin, Crow Wing County Land Services director, agreed. He said the county needs to know if people aren’t getting through on the hotline or if someone doesn’t get back to callers. No one can address the issues unless they hear about them when they’re occurring, he said.

Those who call the county hotline can expect the property owner to be contacted within one hour of the complaint. If a property owner has more than three legitimate complaints against them, their rental license will be in jeopardy.

Ordinance enforcement isn’t perfect, but a work in progress, including getting such properties licensed. The county wants to help rather than frustrate people.

Griffin said the county has issued 400 licenses countywide and has received 13 complaints to the hotline, including four from Crosslake.

“So we haven’t had an abundance of complaints,” he said, adding the county would likely have more complaints if more people knew who to call and how to lodge a complaint.

Of the 13 complaints, Griffin said some are unresolved on Cross Lake and one is on North Long Lake. Six to seven neighbors complained, and the county called all back to follow up on the complaints. All but three or four said they were happy the issue was resolved, and a handful of property owners said they’d be more diligent.

So there’s been some success too as the learning and evolving occur, he said.

Short-term rental owner

Deanne Furan said what Pfaff and Chapman are dealing with is unacceptable, and property owners who don’t follow the rules should be shut down. There are no consequences for those breaking the rules, and there should be, she said.

However, as an owner of two short-term rental properties in Crosslake, she said people who live next to such properties should give them a chance because most do follow the rules.


"Don’t get rid of short-term rentals because of a few bad ones. There are not enough resorts. Most short-term rentals do a good job."

— Deanne Furan, Crosslake


She takes pride in owning and managing her homes, which she called her babies, and she and her husband go to great lengths to ensure the properties, homes and neighbors are respected.

“We expect who stays to be respectful,” she said. “The way we see it, if the neighbors aren’t happy, no one is happy.”

They don’t allow animals under any circumstance, nor do they allow guy or girl parties, bachelor or bachelorette weekends, or weddings. Because of their standards, they have turned down hundreds of renters.

“There’s no excuse to rent to disrespectful people,” Furan said. “We do all we can to be sure people will be respectful.”

She said they ask neighbors to let them know immediately if anything is bothering them or if anyone is breaking the rules.

The city and county will only hear from people who are unhappy.

“Most neighbors of short-term rentals are happy, but you won’t hear from them,” she said, noting there are bad apples in all industries.

It’s important to manage the issues so as not to ruin it for those doing the right thing, she said.

It’s also important to focus on the benefits of short-term rentals, Furan said. Both her rentals have families who stay there every weekend and they spend money in Crosslake. The person who cleans the rentals said that job helps her.

“Don’t get rid of short-term rentals because of a few bad ones,” she said. “There are not enough resorts. Most short-term rentals do a good job.”

It’s all evolving

Crow Wing County Commissioner Bill Brekken, who represents northern Crow Wing County, also attended the July 29 meeting. He was excited about the conversation, which he wants to keep going, and letting the processes evolve.

“They are very much a part of the hospitality industry and are not going away,” he said of short-term rentals.

Crosslake Mayor Dave Nevin asked what residents who dread the weekends can do, saying rules in the county ordinance have no teeth if they are not enforced. Brekken advised people to use the processes in place as the discussion and enforcement continue to evolve.

Short-term rental complaints

Crow Wing County staff will follow up on concerns reported in the following ways:

Follow the link to the “online complaint form.” In the city field, select “Crow Wing County, MN.” The form allows people to upload photos or other documentation, such as evidence of garbage or parking concerns. Crow Wing County staff is to follow up with the concerned parties and the property owner to ensure issues are resolved.

  • Crow Wing County Land Services: 218-824-1010

Call during business hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

  • City law enforcement: Call 218-829-4749 and dispatchers will contact the municipality involved for those police officers to respond.

Find information about Crow Wing County’s short-term rental ordinance at https://www.crowwing.us/1621/Short-Term-Rental.

In other business July 29, the council:

  • Agreed to pay $36,723 to update two lighted crosswalk signals on County Road 66 at Swann Drive and at County Road 3 after discussion and clarification on this.

  • Agreed to erect a one-sided sign for city hall from the sign that was located at the former city hall building and to perhaps budget for a new sign in 2022.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.