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New rules enacted for vacation rentals

Douglas County is in the process of amending its zoning and lodging ordinances to establish new rules for those who rent out private/vacation homes. (File photo)

Stricter rules are now in place for private vacation home rentals.

On Tuesday, March 6, Douglas County commissioners unanimously approved amendments to the Douglas County Zoning Ordinance and Lodging Ordinance that will now require all private vacation home rentals to be licensed through Horizon Public Health.

However, even though the commissioners approved the licensing, they also delayed enforcement of the overnight guest capacity provision until Oct. 1.

The capacity provision states that the maximum number of overnight guests is three per bedroom and not more than 12 overnight guests, unless a conditional use permit has been issued.

According to Dave Rush, Douglas County Land and Resource Management director, the amendments are being put in place now to get the ball rolling and start educating property owners, but suspending the enforcement until Oct. 1 allows those who already have reservations from renters for this summer to keep them.

Rush stressed that the delayed enforcement is only for the capacity provision and that property owners must meet all other standards.

"Many already have bookings for 2018 and we realized it would be a burden to cancel," Rush said, adding that it was his recommendation to suspend capacity enforcement until Oct. 1. "That should give vacation rental owners time to get through the summer."

The money generated by the fees for the licenses will go to Horizon Public Health, which will monitor and enforce the amendments.

The base fee for the license was set at $240, plus an additional $12 fee per bedroom and an $85 fee for a private well or private septic system. For a three-bedroom home with a private septic system, the total fee would then be $361. Those fees will have to be paid annually, Rush said.

To apply for license, contact Horizon Public Health, 809 Elm Street, 320-763-6018.

Full details of the vacation rental ordinance are available at the Land and Resources Management department, Horizon Public Health office, Douglas County Public Library and at www.co.douglas.mn.us.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. She enjoys running and has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon distances.

(320) 763-1242
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