Land Use


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The Land Use Division is responsible for the administration and enforcement of land use regulations for county administered areas.

To find zoning information, click Maps on the left side of the page and you will be directed to the County Land Explorer.

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Draft Short Term Rental Standards

St. Louis County has been working for several years to gather input and review the need for permitting of short term (vacation home) rentals. As part of the proposed revisions to St. Louis County Zoning Ordinance 62, it is proposed to allow for the short term rental of properties through the issuance of permits in St. Louis County land use administered areas. Draft ordinance changes were approved by the Planning Commission on December 12, 2019 to be forwarded to the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners. The proposed draft changes are located below. To provide input, comments may be submitted in writing to the Planning and Community Development Department, Virginia Government Services Center, 201 South 3rd Avenue West, Virginia, MN 55792 or to Jenny Bourbonais at Your input is important to us. Please contact Jenny Bourbonais at 218-749-0629 if you have any questions.

The County Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, February 25, during its regular Board Meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m., and will be held in the Hibbing City Council Chambers, 401 East 21st Street in Hibbing.

Short Term Rentals - General Information on Proposed Zoning 62 Ordinance Amendments

Ordinance Being Amended: Only Ordinance 62 (Zoning)
Ordinance 62 Amendments: Proposing adding language for the administration of Short Term Rentals

Who IS Impacted: Short Term Rentals in Organized and Unorganized Townships where St. Louis County administers the zoning ordinance regulations.
Who IS NOT Impacted: The following cities administer their own zoning ordinance and the County proposed short term rental ordinance amendments would not impact these short term rental properties located in the following cities: Aurora, Babbitt, Biwabik, Brookston, Buhl, Chisholm, Cook, Duluth, Ely, Eveleth, Floodwood, Gilbert, Hermantown, Hibbing, Hoyt Lakes, Iron Junction, Kinney, Leonidas, McKinley, Meadowlands, Mountain Iron, Orr, Proctor, Rice Lake, Tower, Virginia, Winton.
Who’s Impacted Notes: Townships: The townships of Duluth, Gnesen, Lakewood, and Midway administer their own local zoning. Residents of these townships should contact their township government for further information. 

Short Term Rental Definition: A short term rental dwelling unit is defined as any home, cabin, condominium or similar building represented to the public as a place where sleeping accommodations are furnished to the public on a nightly or weekly and for less than thirty (30) days basis for compensation.

Type of Permit (by Zone District):

  • Performance Standard Permit (Over-the-Counter if all standards can be met) Zone: FAM, MU, SMU, RES*, LSO, LCO
  • Conditional Use Permit (Planning Commission Review). Zone: COM, SENS

Permit Fee:

  • Performance Standard Permit: $370
  • Conditional Use Permit: $630

Standards: Final Draft Short Term Rental Standards

County On-Site Wastewater: Some properties may require SSTS compliance inspections and/or upgrades to septic systems; fee can vary by private contractor; St. Louis County compliance review and processing fee for compliance inspection $30.

Planning Commission (PC) Process: The Planning Commission held a public hearing on October 10, 2019. After public testimony was received, the Planning Commission established an additional 30 day public comment period. The Planning Commission held a second hearing on December 12, 2019. The Planning Commission voted on December 12, 2019 to adopt final changes to the proposed Short Term Rental permitting standards as amendments to Zoning Ordinance 62 and to send the proposed ordinance to the Board with a recommendation that the Board adopt Short Term Rental permitting standards as part of Ordinance 62.

Real Estate Property Classification and Tax VS Proposed Short Term Rental Ordinance Amendments: These are two (2) separate topics. If the short term rental ordinance is adopted, it only pertains to land use regulation and does not pertain to property classification or taxes.

As a separate topic (not part of the ordinance amendment), the Minnesota Department of Revenue provided guidance in the spring of 2019 to all Minnesota Assessors on how to classify Short Term Rental property based upon primary use. The County Assessor, in order to comply with the state, needs to determine primary short term rental use. This primary use is different for everyone’s situation.

If an owner only rents for a couple weekends a year or even a couple months a year, then their classification would likely remain the same. If the property is primarily used for short-term rental, then it may need to be classified as a 3a Commercial classification for assessment and property tax purposes. The County Assessor’s Department will determine the correct classification of your property. If a commercial classification is required, it will be reflected on this year’s valuation notice (for the 2020 assessment), which affects the following year’s property taxes (payable in 2021). Commercial classification rates do result in higher property taxes than seasonal recreational or residential rates. Please contact the County Assessor’s Department regarding any valuation or classification issue.


Question: I own a short term rental property in Hibbing, will I be impacted by this proposed ordinance amendment?
Answer: No. St. Louis County does not administer zoning in Hibbing. You would need to follow Hibbing zoning requirements, if any. In fact, any property in a city administering its own zoning will not be impacted.

Question: Will two short term rental properties under different ownership next to each other, in a residentially zoned area, be allowed under the new standards?
Answer: If two short term rentals in a residentially zoned area are closer than 300 feet (measured from property line to property line), then a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) may be allowed and the Planning Commission (PC) would have the ability to waive the 300 foot standard. A CUP also allows for the PC to add conditions to the permit that could help mitigate any potential effects on the other residents in the neighborhood.

Question: What type of permits are required for other rental properties, such as hotels, resorts or bed & breakfasts?
Answer: Typically these types of rentals fall into a different category of use and require a Conditional Use Permit and also require state licensure for food, beverage and lodging.

Question: Why are state and county licenses and permits required?
Answer: Short term rentals in St. Louis County have gone relatively unregulated in the past and the Planning Commission had concern over the safety of those renting short term rental properties. The Minnesota Department of Health has qualified inspectors that review the property for safe and adequate drinking water, sanitation facilities and egress, among other inspections. St. Louis County will be reviewing the use of the property for short term rentals and ensure that parking, lighting, signage, onsite wastewater (septic) treatment and existing structures will be utilized as intended.

Question: If I own lake property, is it true I will be forced to plant trees or build a fence to hide my cabin from the lake?
Answer: St. Louis County will look at properties to ensure existing ordinance standards regarding vegetative screening and land alterations are being followed.

Question: Will I be required to get a survey of my property?
Answer: A visual demarcation of your property lines will need to be submitted with your application (for example, a map or sketch of your property) to provide to renters of the property to alleviate trespass on to neighboring properties. If your property is located in a residentially (RES) zoned area a survey may be required; in lieu of a survey, written agreement between adjoining property owners may be submitted.

Question: Will there be an annual fee for a short term rental permit from St. Louis County?
Answer: Depending on the permit type, the fee will be $370 for a performance standard permit or $630 for a Conditional Use Permit. As long as all conditions and standards of the permit are being followed, no additional fees may be required for a St. Louis County short term rental permit. If a property is sold or transferred, a new permit with a new fee will be required. If a property is in violation of St. Louis County ordinances, standards or conditions, then a permit may be revoked and a new permit with a new fee may be required to continue or re-start a short term rental.