Beltrami County board discusses short-term rentals, approves measures moving forward with jail project

A short-term rental ordinance was among the first items of the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners’ work agenda.

Short-term rentals, such as Air BnBs or VRBOs, have not been regulated in Beltrami County as a whole, but they are monitored in the City of Bemidji and Northern Township by the Joint Planning Board.

The JPB last fall created procedures for licensing and monitoring these types of rentals.

The Beltrami County ordinance, as written, would have different tiers of permitting depending on the capacity of the units, with owner-occupied dwellings needing no permit.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick, with his background in architecture, raised a concern about allowing commercial uses within residential areas.

The board also approved a contract for a feasibility study on the upcoming jail project.

Two companies returned a request for proposals and Sheriff Ernie Beitel recommended they award the contract to Justice Planners, LLC.

The feasibility study will help guide the county toward its next steps on addressing issues at the jail.

The top three alternatives proposed are remodeling the existing jail, expanding the current jail, or building a new jail at a new site.

The state Department of Corrections has directed Beltrami County to address serious inadequacies of the current facility.

Another jail-related item approved was a reimbursement policy that would allow the county to take out additional bonds for the project.

The board failed to pass a motion that would have made the county auditor-treasurer position an appointed one.

The measure required a supermajority to pass, as in four of the five votes on the board.

Commissioners Richard Anderson, Reed Olson, and Craig Gaasvig were in favor, citing the responsibility of the job should have some requirements and experience.

Commissioners Tim Sumner and Jim Lucachick voted against it.

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