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EAGLES NEST TWP- Short-term vacation rentals are coming under new scrutiny and are likely to face at least a temporary moratorium based on town board action here on Tuesday. The town board will vote …
EAGLES NEST TWP- Short-term vacation rentals are coming under new scrutiny and are likely to face at least a temporary moratorium based on town board action here on Tuesday. The town board will vote on a proposed one-year prohibition on new vacation rentals in the township at their meeting on Oct. 18.
The moratorium, if approved, would exempt properties that have already received permits, or are in the process of receiving permits, from St. Louis County.
St. Louis County put a permitting process in place for short-term rentals (those under one month in duration) in 2020. The permits require a rental to meet certain standards for health and safety, as well as requiring the collection of sales tax and any other applicable taxes.
“We are covered by this county ordinance,” said Supervisor Kurt Soderberg at the Sept. 20 town board meeting.
Soderberg said the county has only issued two permits for short-term rental units in Eagles Nest Township, one on Six Mile Rd., and the other on Walsh Rd.
But based on what we hear from people, he said, there are a lot more.
“We need to make sure they are permitted by St. Louis County,” Soderberg said.
Several members of the audience at the meeting spoke out about issues with these rentals, including loud partying, irresponsible boating, and the inability to make complaints to the owners or operators of such rentals.
The township will be sending out letters to owners of any such rentals informing them of the pending moratorium and the need to get county approval. They are working on a list of rentals identified either through advertising on vacation rental sites or from neighbor complaints. The one-month delay in implementing the moratorium will give property owners a chance to begin the county permit process, they said.
The board added it is legal for property owners to do short-term rentals, but they need to follow the county rules.
Some platted areas in the township do have covenants which restrict such rentals, including one in the Clear Lake area, on Moose Creek Trail.
During the year-long moratorium, the town board plans to enact an ordinance that would ban short-term rentals unless they have received the needed permits. The board discussed ways to notify owners of such rentals of the moratorium and the need for a county permit. They decided to put the information on their website and Facebook page, and to try to get it included in an upcoming newsletter from the lake association. The board also discussed adding road signs noting that permits are required for short-term rental properties. They will also send a letter to all area realtors informing them of the moratorium and plan for the new ordinance.
Ely Area Tourism Board
The issue of short-term rentals is also one that is being address by the Ely Area Tourism Bureau (EATB). EATB Executive Director Cindy Smyka attended Tuesday’s meeting to talk about their lodging tax area, which is hoping to expand from its current base of Ely, Morse, Fall Lake, and Stony River to surrounding areas so it meets up with the Lake Vermilion Lodging Tax area. The lodging tax provides revenue that is used for tourism marketing in the area.
“We want to level the playing field,” Smyka said. “Short-term rentals are a trend now. They should operate in full compliance the same as traditional lodging.”
The tourism bureau has started an accreditation process, which formalizes short-term rental standards, and provides guidelines for rental properties, including the requirement to post noise/quiet hours, parking information, garbage/recycling information, emergency procedures, and the pet policy.
“Once we have a majority of our rental properties accredited,” she said, “we will start doing a marketing program to promote that visitors only stay at these accredited properties,” she said.
There is no charge for receiving the accreditation. To date, she said, they estimate about 40-percent of short-term rental properties have applied to the program, with applications coming in every week. They also will mail out information on the program to owners of short-term rentals that have been reported to be out of compliance with county rules.
Information on the accreditation process is available online at ely.org/lodging/vacation-rentals/.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the board discussed ATV use, tentatively approved a proposal from the Tower Ambulance Commission for additional funding in 2023 (formal vote to be taken in October), voted 4-1 to take ownership of two of the contested park land parcels (which would give the township the option of then leasing them back to adjoining landowners), took no action on two of the other park land lots because of potential litigation and the fact there is no public access to these lots at the present time, and heard the township is working on getting a FEMA grant to help with repair costs related to road flooding earlier this year. These issues will be reported on in more depth in next week’s edition of the Timberjay.
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