Short-term rental agreement gives Crow Wing cities options

A few cities express interest in having Crow Wing County regulate short-term rentals for them.

Staff members and commissioners take their seats at the Crow Wing County Board meeting room.
Staff and commissioners meet for the Feb. 14, 2023, Crow Wing County Board session at the historic courthouse in Brainerd.
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — In a resource rich area with a robust tourism economy, short-term rentals and their regulation have been a repeated topic of conversation.

Crow Wing County began a short-term rental ordinance in 2021, outlining the responsibilities of those who operate the rentals defined as a home, cabin or place where sleeping quarters are provided to the public on a nightly, weekly or less than 30-day time period that isn’t a bed and breakfast, resort, hotel or motel. In effect, it often means renting out a home, or seasonal home, to the vacationing public.

With a growing number of operators of short-term rentals, there has been concern from communities and neighbors on regulations for noise, the number of guests, garbage, septic systems, parking, conformity with existing county and state requirements, and penalties for unresolved complaints. Statistics compiled by the land services department showed a total of 475 active licenses existed in 2022, an increase of 113 over the number of licenses issued in 2021.

Short-term rentals are not allowed to operate in the county without an annual license. Last month, the county rescinded a short-term rental ordinance that applied countywide and set it up to apply outside of organized municipalities, namely townships or cities. The move allowed those local units of government to manage their own short-term rental regulations and enforcement.

Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Crow Wing County Board, approved a short term rental licensing agreement, which means any city or township that is doing its own zoning can contract with the county to regulate short-term rentals for them within their jurisdiction. Two townships in Crow Wing County — Irondale and Crow Wing townships — also manage their own planning and zoning. The county reported a few cities approached the county about continuing to manage the short-term rentals for them in exchange for a fee. In order to have the county manage the short-term rentals, the cities would need to adopt an identical set of regulations as the county.


The county would then license the short-term rentals for the city, process permits, collect permit fees and do site inspections. For enforcement, the county will use administrative means to gain compliance and if those are exhausted, unresolved complaints would be referred to the city for enforcement of the city code.

In other business, the County Board:

Reappointed Tim Bray as county engineer for an additional four-year term.

Reappointed Erik Flowers as county veterans service office for a term of four years.

Assigned Chris Pence, environmental services manager, the duties of county surveyor, land commissioner, zoning administrator and county planner and welcomed him back to the county staff.

Terminated contracts for the purchase of tax-forfeited land when the purchasers defaulted because of unpaid installments of about $2,000 to $3,000 while noting unpaid taxes by those individuals as well.

Accepted donations: $5,000 from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1647 for the Veteran Information System; $2,500 from the American Legion Post 443 for the county Veteran Services van fund; $1,000 for the Dale and Linda Bartel to the county Veteran Services emergency assistance fund.

Noted annual township elections are coming up on March 14 and authorized entering contracts with Bay Lake, Center, Crow Wing, Fort Ripley, Ideal and Maple Grove townships to provide election coordination services.


Granted the city of Baxter its request for a 20-foot drainage and utility easement across a section of tax-forfeited land near Lake Forest Road.

Scheduled a public hearing for 9:05 a.m. March 14 to consider adding an on sale liquor license for $1,000 for a dirt track motor speedway fee to the county’s list of fees.

Supported a grant application made to the DNR for the 2023 federal recreation trail grant program to purchase snowmobile trail grooming equipment for the Nisswa area that will be maintained by the Gull Lake Drifters Snowmobile Club. The county would serve as the fiscal agent and have no financial obligation.

In staffing changes, noted Human Resource Director Meliene Fontaine-Laska will be leaving on March 3. Other recent departures included Krista Zierden, social worker. New hires included Jordan Skadsem, deputy, and Rachel Carley, accounting technician. Promotions included Hannah Tolbert, sheriff’s office dispatcher, and Jennifer Strack, correctional officer.

Heard a Minnesota Department of Transportation request to use County Road 117 as a detour while the bridge over the BNSF Railway tracks is replaced on Highway 25 east of Brainerd at the start of construction season this year. MnDOT would pay the county $16,365 for use of county roads for what is expected to be 154 days. The amount is based on anticipated traffic levels, time of use and the 2.59 mile length.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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