Business & Economy

Otter Tail County proposes restrictions on vacation home rentals

a man steers a boat on a lake
Otter Tail County water patrol officer Brian Hovland checks on dozens of boats anchored on a sandbar near shore on Pelican Lake in 2020.
Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Otter Tail County boasts more lakes than any other Minnesota county and is a popular vacation destination.

County Land and Resource Management Director Chris LeClair estimates there are several hundred vacation home rentals and the number is growing. That’s why the county is considering an ordinance to tighten rules around renting vacation homes.

Vacation home rentals are now licensed through the county public health department, but LeClair said that limits the options for responding to complaints.

“Things like large gatherings at a vacation rental, loud noise and parties late into the night and into the early morning,” he said. “Just things that were disturbing the peace of the neighbors.”

A key part of the proposed ordinance is limiting how many people can stay at a rental. The county would use the size of the home and the septic system capacity to determine how many people can use the home.

“Say you rent a [vacation home] and it allows six people,” explained LeClair. “You wouldn’t be able to host your wedding there that day or a graduation party or a bachelor party. If you’re allowed six people at night, you’re allowed six people during the day.”

LeClair believes that will be an important tool for limiting noise and crowd complaints. The proposed ordinance also has limits on parking and pets. The ordinance would allow the county to suspend or revoke a rental license for repeated offenses.

LeClair said the county doesn’t want to limit vacation home rental business but wants to ensure neighbors are protected. He’s heard from lake property owners who considered moving because of noise from a rental property.

“At the end of the day, we’re probably only going to see a handful of vacation home rentals that we’re going to have to respond to,” LeClair said. “In the past couple of years, we’ve gotten complaints from two or three.”

The county commission is expected to approve the ordinance later this month.

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