Public hearing set for Feb. 25 regarding proposed short term rental rules

What’s the best way to allow property owners to rent out their property on a short term basis if they so choose, while also protecting the safety of visitors and rights of neighboring property owners, as well as preserving the character of residential areas?

This question has been discussed in St. Louis County for nearly 10 years on how to best balance these interests while supporting the tourism industry. Public input received during development of the County’s adopted 2019 Comprehensive Land Use Plan strongly supported this review to improve the regulation of short term rentals.

The St. Louis County Planning Commission has been working for nearly a year on the issue, holding public information meetings and hearings, and then developing and refining a draft set of rules based on public feedback received. Now the County Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, February 25, during its regular Board Meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m., and will be held in the Hibbing City Council Chambers, 401 East 21st Street in Hibbing.

The proposed amendments to St. Louis County Zoning Ordinance 62 would allow for short term rental of properties through the issuance of performance standard permits. A draft of the proposed ordinance changes can be found online at stlouiscountymn.gov/planning. The zoning ordinance and proposed amendments apply to any areas where St. Louis County is the zoning authority. The County’s proposed amendments would not impact short term rental properties within cities because these municipalities administer their own zoning ordinance. Additionally, the townships of Duluth, Gnesen, Lakewood, and Midway administer their own local zoning. Residents of these townships should contact their township government for further information.

With the continued growth in popularity of vacation rental options like Airbnb and VRBO, St. Louis County has been working to ensure these short term rentals are managed in the best possible way. By requiring appropriate permitting with performance standards, and setting requirements for septic, parking and posting of rules, the goal is to ensure a safe experience for guests, and minimal disruption to neighbors and the environment.

A number of St. Louis County services play a role in the short term rental market, including property classification, land use administration, solid waste, and on-site sewage treatment compliance.

Anyone wishing to provide comment on the proposed changes prior to – or instead of at – the public hearing can email Planning Manager Jenny Bourbonais at bourbonaisj@stlouiscountymn.gov or by mail to: Planning and Community Development Department, Government Services Center 201 South 3rd Avenue West, Virginia, MN 55792.