Planning Commission revises ordinance on house rentals
BEMIDJI—The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission approved an ordinance to regulate short term rentals Thursday, with a few of their own additions.
Short term rentals, as classified in the ordinance, refers to a dwelling unit or portion of a dwelling unit that’s rented for a period of less than 30 consecutive days at a time. The term doesn’t include bed and breakfasts, motels, hotels or resorts.
The use of those rentals, such as Airbnbs, which markets rentals worldwide, has skyrocketed in recent years. This is especially true in Minnesota, where multiple rentals came about when the Super Bowl was held in Minneapolis.
For the Bemidji area, talk of local rentals and an ordinance to regulate them began to form last year. Currently, there are four short-term vacation rental units in the jurisdiction of the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning. Because of concerns raised in 2017 with the rentals, though, a moratorium was put in place in November until a new ordinance was developed.
The original ordinance only required an individual looking to rent their property to have an interim use permit. However, the new ordinance, reviewed Thursday, would add a requirement for the owner to get an annual renting permit along with an interim use permit. The annual permit for short term rentals would allow planning staff to go out to the site and conduct inspections.
Other rules set by the new ordinance include:
• Allowing only two people per room in the house.
• All guest parking must be accommodated on improved surfaces on the premises and shall comply with all parking standards. No on-street parking is allowed for guests.
• Each permittee shall maintain a transient guest record for their property. This record will include the name, address and phone number of guests. Additionally, this record will have the number of guests and lodging tax data.
• The city nuisance ordinances will be enforced by the Bemidji Police Department and the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, including between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
• No events are allowed to be hosted by the guest on the premises of a rental. An event is described as a gathering of more than four un-registered guests.
• The permittee must designate a managing agent or a local contact who resides within 30 minutes of the property and can respond within 24 hours for any complaints.
• Enforcement and permit revocation is attached to the ordinance. If a permittee has violated the ordinance on three separate occasions in a 12-month period, the Joint Planning Board can revoke the rental permit. Complaints against a short term rental shall first be directed to the agent/contact. If there is a failure to respond, the complaint will then be addressed by either law enforcement or planning staff.
During a public hearing on the ordinance Thursday, some residents who live near existing rental homes discussed concerns on allowing them to continue. During their time to speak, some of the residents cited cities such as Apple Valley and Edina, which do not allow these rentals. Residents also stated that the concept of rentals is a business opportunity for a few at the expense of many.
After the public hearing, the JPC added new language to the ordinance, such as a 600 foot density rule. The rule will not allow a short term rental to be within 600 feet of another rental property. Another rule was adding a 90 rental day limit on properties in a calendar year.
The JPB will hold a meeting on April 11 and will have the option to either vote on the original version presented Thursday or the version that includes the JPC’s additions.
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