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Pequot Lakes: Council goes with Crow Wing County’s short-term rental ordinance, which is less restrictive than city ordinance

Sign violation along Highway 371 prompts council to call for review of city sign ordinance

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The Pequot Lakes City Council listens to information about creating a tax increment financing district in the Heart of the Good Life development at its Tuesday, March 2, meeting. Echo Journal Screenshot / Nancy Vogt

The Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, March 2, rescinded the city’s short-term rental ordinance and agreed to have the planning commission revise the city’s sign ordinance.

After discussion, the council unanimously agreed to use Crow Wing County’s short-term vacation rental ordinance, which went into effect Jan. 1 and is less restrictive than the city’s ordinance.

The city adopted an ordinance in late 2018 in response to complaints about properties being rented. The ordinance allowed only four leases between May 20 and Sept. 10 each year. The county ordinance does not include that stipulation.


"The problem went away when we put the (city) ordinance in place."

— Dawn Bittner, zoning specialist.


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Dawn Bittner, zoning specialist, told the council the planning commission spent time talking to people who rented their properties and neighbors to those properties. Some people bought property to rent it all summer, so for neighbors it was like living next to a resort, she said.

“The problem went away when we put the ordinance in place,” Bittner said of complaints.

Council member Scott Pederson said he didn’t want to see people hindered from renting their cabins a few times as long as everyone behaved.

“It’s good for everyone because then you get new people up here spending money,” he said.

Council member Pete Clement also didn’t like the summer restrictions.


"Leave people alone. It's their property."

— Council member, Pete Clement.


“Leave people alone. It’s their property,” he said.

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An initial vote to amend the city ordinance to include county verbiage failed on a 5-0 vote. The council then voted 5-0 to get rid of the city ordinance and use the county ordinance instead.

Sign ordinance

The council revisited a sign ordinance violation at Lonesome Cottage in the industrial park, ultimately agreeing to review the sign ordinance rather than enforce the zoning code right now.

At issue is the large banner on the side of a semi-trailer on Lonesome Cottage’s industrial park property on Morehouse Drive advertising the showroom on Patriot Avenue. The sign, which faces Highway 371, violates current city code because it exceeds the maximum size of a freestanding sign and advertises an offsite location.

The council first heard of the issue last October and agreed in November to postpone discussion until March to allow the new council to consider it.

Pederson said the council should look at city ordinances from time to time, including the sign ordinance, saying the council should do what it can to direct traffic from the highway to downtown. He said there’s a perception in the community that the city is over regulated.

Council member Dan Ronning agreed.

“Half the world is driving by our town right now,” he said.

In other business March 2, the council:

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  • Learned that in January, firefighters had four calls and police had 174 calls for service.

  • Decided on a split vote not to pursue a Department of Natural Resources grant that would require a 50/50 match with up to $250,000 available for a qualifying project.

City projects could include a splash pad for Trailside Park, Sibley Lake or Trailside Park improvements, or Heart of the Good Life recreation space.
Pederson and Ronning voted in favor of seeking the grant; Clement and council member Cheri Seils were opposed; and Mayor Tyler Gardner abstained from voting.

  • Held a closed meeting for a performance review of City Administrator Rich Spiczka.

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.

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Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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