New rental ordinance goes into effect July 1

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

County commissioners, on June 11, approved a revised vacation home rental ordinance after previously tabling a decision. The vote was 4-1 in favor of the revised ordinance.

The purpose of the revised ordinance is to allow the use of private vacation home rentals, but also mitigate possible adverse impacts to the public’s health, safety and quality of life.

Commissioner Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids, and other county commissioners, previously heard complaints from lakeshore property owners and others. To that end, the revised ordinance requires quiet hours at rental properties between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

During those hours indoor and outdoor activity audio must not be carried on beyond a general conversation level. “We do not want to see anything that disturbs the neighborhood,” Johnson said.

The owner or owner’s agent of the vacation home rental property is expected to enforce the ordinance rules. The vacation home rental also must be connected to a compliant subsurface sewage treatment system (SSTS).

“With the revised vacation home rental ordinance, I believe we balance the rights of businesses and neighbors,” Johnson said. “We appreciate previous input from lake associations and others.”

County Land and Resource Management Director Chris LeClair suggested the county board enact the new ordinance on July 1, 2024. Commissioners discussed delaying enactment until Jan. 1, 2025, but in the end agreed with LeClair.

“The new ordinance addresses impacts to surrounding properties, as well as water and environmental quality,” LeClair said.

County commissioners, over the past several weeks, cited the need to strike a balance between protecting property owners’ private rights, enhancing localized economic activity and tourism and preserving the integrity of lakeshore property owners and neighborhoods.

A copy of the ordinance can be seen on the county website under the heading Land and Resource Management Department.