STILLWATER — City officials upped the number of allowable vacation rental property licenses this week. The new threshold for Type C short term home rentals is 25, up from 15. Type C licenses are those that do not serve as the residence of the property owner, but are used exclusively as short term vacation rentals.
Over the past several years, short term home rentals, often run through services such as Airbnb, Vrbo (Vacation Rentals By Owner) or HomeAway, have become popular tools for homeowners seeking to rent out their property to vacationers. In an effort to protect neighborhoods from over-commercialization, Stillwater developed regulations for such vacation rentals in 2017.
The action upping the number of allowable Type C licenses was taken June 18 in response to a request from resident Brian Brosdahl to convert a Type B license for his property at Second and Pine Streets to a Type C. The City reached its 15-limit maximum Type C vacation rental licenses some time ago. Stillwater allows 35 Type A and 35 Type B short term home rentals. Type A are hosted, meaning the homeowners are present during the entire visit, while Type B are unhosted, but still considered to be the homeowner’s primary residence. All such rentals require an inspection and application fee.
Community Development Director Bill Turnblad said staff looked at the distribution of existing licenses and number of complaints received about the short term home rentals since the regulations were first developed. “We’ve only had one property that’s generated complaints and over two and a half seasons, which seems to be fairly minimal,” he said.
Mayor Ted Kozlowski was one of three councilmembers voting to OK the increase. “When we passed this we were very, very cautious in opening the door,” he remarked. “For me, there’s been enough time to see effects one way or another.” He made it clear, though, that he doesn’t want to up the number again.
Voting against the increase, Councilmember Mike Polehna said he doesn’t want downtown “filled with nothing but Airbnbs.” Councilmember Tom Weidner, who also voted nay, said he considers the Type C licenses to be investment properties. “I think these are just mini hotels and I think we have enough of them,” he said.
The Council also denied a chicken keeping permit for Patricia Strauss, 2509 Hidden Valley Lane. According to the staff report, Strauss had been keeping unpermitted chickens. When she applied for a permit and neighbors were notified, per city policy, two objections from neighbors were received, citing noise, smell and the potential to attract vermin and predators. Four letters of support were received. The Council denied the permit on a split vote with Councilmembers Junker, Weidner and Polehna voting nay. “She’s a very good neighbor, but being a former Iowa farm boy I just don’t think chickens belong in town,” Polehna commented.
Meanwhile, Brad Glynn of The Locals said Lumberjack Days 2019 will include traditional favorites and exciting new activities, including a family and community tent featuring kids’ games and a petting zoo. Helicopter rides will be back, as will the time-honored lumberjack show with Stillwater lumberjack Jamie Fischer, grandson of Harold Fischer, the famous lumberjack who performed at the very first Lumberjack Days in 1934. On Saturday, Minnesota favorite Soul Asylum will headline the concert. The entire event schedule is posted at http://lumberjackdays.com.
City Clerk Wolf reported that Stillwater Eagles is hosting The Wall That Heals, a half scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, at the Old Athletic Field July 25-28. The 375-foot long Wall lists the names of the more than 58,000 U.S. servicemembers who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. It will be accompanied by a 53-foot mobile Education Center featuring exhibits that give visitors a better understanding of the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the collection of items left at The Wall. Names of Vietnam War casualties may be searched via directories provided at The Wall That Heals, or ahead of time online at https://www.vvmf.org. The Wall That Heals will be open 24 hours a day.