Minocqua Board Crafts Ordinance On Short-Term Rentals

Jan 18, 2018

Credit pixabay.com qimono

MINOCQUA – Minocqua homeowners who want to rent out their houses in single-family residential districts on a short-term basis will have to comply with several requirements, including payment of fees, according to the Minocqua Town Board.

The town board Tuesday, Jan. 16th gave a first reading of the proposed ordinance, which will become law after a second reading, tentatively set for Feb. 20, and its publication. The town board took action after Gov. Scott Walker accepted language in the state budget bill that took away the ability of local municipalities to prohibit short-term rentals of fewer than 30 consecutive days in single-family residential districts. The state did allow municipalities to require rentals of at least seven consecutive days. Minocqua and Oneida County plan to impose that restriction.

Supervisor Billy Fried sought to have the different agencies involved in the required administrative review permit to coordinate the process to make it easier for the applicant. “It’s important that . . . we don’t make the process so convoluted for people so they are gonna, like, ‘hey, I’m gong to wait until they come after me.’” Fried said. “You want to make it simple, you want to make it kinda one-stop shopping... “Right now everyone seems to work independently. And I think it’s important that somehow it gets tied together.”

Supervisor Bill Stengl cautioned against too many stipulations in the ordinance, which then could be challenged by an affected homeowner. “One of the issues is not necessary what we would like to have in it, but what we can have in it by law, under state statutes,” Stengl said. “A lot of us would like not to have to have short-term rentals but it’s not in our wheelhouse any longer.”

If enacted as proposed, Minocqua’s new ordinance would require a state tourist rooming house license, a seller’s permit issued by the state Department of Revenue, a room tax permit, and the administrative review permit issued by the county zoning department, if necessary. It also forbids any on-premise sign advertising its availability greater than one square foot; none on any water body. Landlords won’t be able to cram an excessive number of bodies in the house, as its occupancy is limited to the number of bedrooms in each unit. Before a permit is issued, the dwelling would have to pass a building and fire inspection, and the owner would need to show proof of homeowner’s insurance. The proposed fee schedule lists the following: initial short-term rental application fee, $500; annual renewal, $100; late fees, $100; inspections, $100; property manager, $100 and resident agent, $50.

Buck Drossart, general manager of The Pointe Hotel & Suites, was pleased overall with the work that town attorney Greg Harrold did on the ordinance. However, he wanted clarification on the landlord’s responsibility to collect the local room tax. Drossart is one of the two town representatives on the room tax committee. He also wanted stronger language to ensure collection of trash left behind by short-term renters. “Take the doubt out,” he said. Otherwise, neighborhoods may be seeing trash left on the roadsides. Drossart suggested having resort owners weigh in with their suggestions on the proposed ordinance, which is now posted on the town’s website: townofminocqua.org.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which requires all lodging facilities in Wisconsin to hold a current license, has a lodging guide for those contemplating renting on a short-term basis. It can be viewed at datcp.wi.gov/Documents/ShortTermRentalGuidance.

The board also supported an application by Peter Nomm for a conditional use permit to construct a building to house his Northern Waters Distillery for production and retail operations. His business is currently located in downtown Minocqua. The new venture will be located along U.S. Hwy. 51 South, near the Wausau Homes dealership. The facility will have limited outdoor seating, said Nomm. The board approved renting two town-owned towers to Northwoods Communications, which will place their transmitting equipment on them. The monthly rental fee is $150 for each. The rental is for five years, but also is contingent on the county receiving a state grant to expand broadband services in the county.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim announced he’s reappointing Dick Heil and Drossart as Minocqua’s representatives to the room tax committee, as well as Brandon Baker to the airport commission.