Forum set on Lake Co. rental ruleThere will be another public meeting Monday on Lake County’s proposed change to its “vacation rental home” ordinance.
There will be another public meeting Monday on Lake County’s proposed change to its “vacation rental home” ordinance. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the county’s Silver Bay Service Center at 99 Edison Blvd.
The changes redefine what a rental property is and allows them in areas along the North Shore where they previously weren’t allowed. That’s the most controversial aspect of the revisions, allowing rentals in the R4 neighborhoods that comprise nearly 75 percent of Lake Superior shore property in the county.
Those wanting to rent a home in those areas would have to apply for an interim license, meaning it would be subject to the county planning commission for review each year.
While the county has been sorting out the rental ordinance, there has been a moratorium on all vacation rentals for two years. Operators needed to file for a conditional use permit since August of 2009. The moratorium was put in place to protect renters from homes and cabins that don’t meet specific codes. The county health department had been seeking more definition on what to look for when inspecting buildings intended for vacation rental.
County board member Rich Sve admitted that the allowance for rentals in residential areas “is controversial” and “no one’s going to be happy.”
County administrator Matt Huddleston said he’s heard from residents trying to keep peace and quiet and property association representatives and homeowners wanting more liberal zoning. “Both sides won’t be happy,” he said. “So we’re doing something right.”
LeRoger Lind of Castle Danger is an arch opponent of the change in R4 allowances. “Current residents, both homestead and seasonal, would be required to adjust to a constantly changing cast of neighbors with interests and activities far different from those found in true residential neighborhoods,” he said. “This would effectively be county-wide rezoning of residential property to commercial property.”
In reviewing an interim use application, the planning commission would use its discretion to add conditions to a permit. It would consider neighborhood concerns and could require such items as privacy fences and screenings and quiet hours.
Lind has made his stance known throughout the process and plans to again Monday. “The injustice of this proposal is flagrant,” he said. “Property owners in areas zoned residential have invested their time, efforts and resources into building their homes with the expectation that the rules governing land use in their zone would remain uniform and residential in nature.”
Those backing the changes are those who have been shut out of rental options in the R4 neighborhoods.
The Minnesota Vacation Rental Association backs the opened zoning, writing in a letter last year to the county board that its concern is with “regulations on vacation rentals that unreasonably distinguish the short-term rental of private housing in a way that infringes on individual property rights.” The association wants the county to better distinguish between short-term rentals of less than a month and longer leases, arguing that it can’t regulate short-term arrangements.
“Private rentals do not have public facilities, such as pools, spas, lobbies, restaurants or other services; nor do they provide accessory uses, such as public parking, transit and shuttle services, recreational or maintenance facilities or storage,” the letter states. “This is arbitrary treatment of a long-standing private use of property that cannot be supported in law or in practice.”
The commission and board members will hear public comments on the proposed changes at the meeting Monday. The board could adopt a new ordinance at its 1 p.m. June 28 regular meeting.
Huddleston said that once a new ordinance is in place, the county will make an effort to inventory where rentals are in the county and make sure they are under allowed use permits and are being inspected.
The county lobbied the state Legislature earlier this year on two bills that eventually died. They would have turned the regulation of vacation rentals over to the state and allowed rentals in all property zones. “It should be left to us to deal with,” Huddleston said.