Owners of properties operating as short-term vacation rentals in Crow Wing County, Minn., could soon see new regulations in place, depending on the outcome of a vote expected at the Tuesday (Dec. 31) county board meeting, according to the Brainerd Dispatch.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled to take place near the beginning of the 9 a.m. meeting on the third floor of the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse in Brainerd, after which commissioners are expected to vote on a proposed ordinance. The draft ordinance 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.

“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.”

Tuesday’s hearing is expected to include varying points of view. A total of 46 comments on the proposed ordinance were submitted to county officials ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. Although a slim majority of those comments voiced support for the measure, a sizable number of those responding issued strong opposition to regulations.

Among those voicing support are the cities of Breezy Point and Fifty Lakes, Ideal Township, Hospitality Minnesota and the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce. Hospitality Minnesota — an association representing restaurants, lodging establishments, resorts and campgrounds — argued private property owners renting dwellings to travelers should be subject to reasonable regulations, just as its members must follow.

“Our members follow numerous federal, state and local laws and we support legislation to ensure that short-term online rentals compete fairly, and that the health and safety of the public are protected,” a submitted comment stated. “… The short-term online rental market continues to grow as a business, and as such, it should be regulated as a business to ensure it is meeting the proper standards of public health and safety.”

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