By Dana Kazel
The St. Louis County Board has approved changing it’s zoning ordinance to allow for short term rental of properties while also regulating them in a way that protects the safety of visitors and rights of neighboring property owners, and preserves the character of residential areas.
The vote was unanimous, and followed a public hearing, which was held today in Hibbing. The updated ordinance goes into effect immediately.
“This issue has been circling the County Board for the last 10 years or so, and it isn’t going away,” said Commissioner Keith Nelson. “The planning commission has worked very hard at putting this together. We know it’s just a starting point. They want to see it back in a year to tweak as needed.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner Paul McDonald, who figures his district includes the most short term rental properties, noted that his predecessor, Tom Rukavina, had urged him to work on this issue.
“People want the board to tackle this and come up with a reasonable solution for all of us,” McDonald said. “This is about public health and safety. It’s about septic. It’s about parking.”
With the continued growth in popularity of vacation rental options like Airbnb and VRBO, St. Louis County’s goal has been to ensure these short term rentals are managed in the best possible way. 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.
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.
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.
The zoning ordinance and proposed amendments apply to any areas where St. Louis County is the zoning authority. The County’s amendments do 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.
The updated ordinance and fact sheets about the ordinance amendments can be found online at stlouiscountymn.gov/planning.