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Beltrami County Board passes short-term rental ordinance

Rules and permits for short-term rentals, such as services like Airbnb and Vrbo, will begin on July 1.

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Beltrami County (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
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BEMIDJI — During its session on Tuesday, May 17, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners passed a short-term rental ordinance that will regulate and create a permit process for operators of services like Airbnb and Vrbo within the county.

The number of short-term rentals in the county has steadily increased, and along with them the number of complaints raised by some of their neighbors.

“If you ever lived next door to one,” said District 5 Commissioner Jim Lucachick, “you wouldn’t want to be that neighbor.”

To help address these concerns and create a regulatory framework for any short-term rental owners, the board began drafting the ordinance last summer.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners suggested that a regulatory document related to short-term vacation rentals be drafted and presented to the Planning Commission in the near future for review.

The ordinance creates different types of permits for short-term rentals based on the maximum occupancy limit. It would also require operators to use a record system compliant with Minnesota law.

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Quiet hours would exist between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. to encourage courtesy toward neighbors and parking spaces would have to be provided on-site to prevent streets from becoming overcrowded.

“We feel that as a county board we’ve done the best we can,” Lucachick said. “We’re not trying to put too much government at this thing.”

A key part of the ordinance is the creation of a compliant system, which will allow neighbors to report any rule violations or other concerns to the county.

These complaints can turn into strikes, and if a rental receives too many strikes, the owners could be issued a misdemeanor, a fine or have their rental permit revoked.

The commissioners also gave assurance that the ordinance could be adjusted in the future to make it more effective.

“If something is not working, say in a year, then come back to our committee and let the people know,” said District 3 Commissioner Richard Anderson. “It’s not permanent if it’s not working well.”

The ordinance will begin on July 1, and the complaint system will be open right away. Short-term rental owners will have 90 days to fill out the paperwork for a permit.

“I understand that this isn’t maybe the perfect document, but it’s a start,” said District 4 Commissioner Tim Sumner. “I’m hopeful that it serves its purpose.”

Nicole Ronchetti is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on local government and community health.
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