Hubbard County commissioners have been reviewing proposed amendments to various county ordinances in order to regulate short-term rentals (STR), commonly known as Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBOs)

The conversation has ranged over the course of several meetings this month.

They will hold a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 4 at the Hubbard County Government Center regarding changes to the county’s subsurface sewage treatment system ordinance (No. 41) and sign ordinance (No. 34).

The public is invited to attend in person or virtually to present oral comment. Citizens may send written comments to Kay Mack, Administrator at 301 Court Ave, Park Rapids, MN 56470. The meeting link for virtual attendance will be posted on the county’s website (www.co.hubbard.mn.us).

County Environmental Services (ESO) Director Eric Buitenwerf reminded the board that the county planning commission was tasked with creating regulations for STRs, which they did throughout the fall, winter and spring.

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In both ordinances, Buitenwerf explained that the new wording would remove a current septic compliance inspection when a new variance is submitted. Inspections are currently required every three years, not annually, he noted.

In the sign ordinance, changes also involve 60-day-rule modifications “and taking out specific time references and relying instead on statute,” he said.

Another public hearing will be scheduled to discuss lengthier amendments to the county’s shoreland management ordinance (No. 17) and subdivision ordinance (Nov. 35). At the time the Enterprise went to press, these items were listed on the Tuesday, April 20 board agenda for further discussion.

Buitenwerf anticipates there are 100 to 110 STRs within Hubbard County.



Possible STR rules

STRs receive their own special category within the proposed shoreland management ordinance.

The planning commission recommended that STRs obtain a valid annual license, as of Jan. 1, 2022, from the ESO prior to renting out a unit.

STRs would be required to follow these provisions:

  • The property owner shall keep on file with ESO the name and current telephone number of a contact person who is responsible for responding to questions or concerns regarding the operation of the STR.

  • The septic servicing an STR “must be properly sized to accommodate the rented structure(s)’ maximum occupancy made available to the public.”

  • A current SSTS certificate of compliance for any and all SSTS servicing a short-term rental must be submitted as part of a short-term rental license application.

  • Within 120 hours upon request by the county, these documents must be provide a passing water test for nitrate and coliform dated within one year of current date; proof that Hubbard County property tax payments are not delinquent; demonstration that the STR operation has a license issued by the Minnesota Department of Health or written certification from the property owner that states that a state license is not required.

  • Sufficient vehicle parking shall be accommodated completely onsite.

  • On-premises advertising signs are prohibited.

  • Quiet hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 7 a.m. on Friday and Saturday must be kept by STR users. Enforcement is the responsibility of the property owner.

  • A map clearly showing the property lines of the STR must be provided to rental customers.

  • All outside lighting must be hooded, meet all structure setbacks, be directed straight down toward the ground, and be a maximum of 20 feet in height.

  • Rooms used for sleeping must have egress windows, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, per Minnesota Statute.

  • No more than one STR structure is allowed on a lot that does not meet the duplex lot size criteria in the ordinance. No more than two STR structures are allowed to be operated on a lot meeting or exceeding the criteria.

  • Storage, collection, and disposal of solid waste must comply with the Hubbard County Solid Waste Ordinance No. 18.

  • A STR license cannot be transferred to a different party than the one permitted.

  • Any violation of any of these criteria may result in the suspension/revocation of the license.

The proposed ordinance states, “These standards apply to all short-term rentals operating prior to Jan. 1, 2022. All such preexisting short-term rentals must come into compliance with these standards by Jan. 1, 2022.”