WORTHINGTON — At the close of a public hearing Wednesday morning, the Nobles County Planning Commission unanimously agreed to recommend that the county board approve a request for Langseth Lodge to be used as a vacation rental property.
The lodge is located at the end of a private road off of 280th Street in Indian Lake Township. Because the location falls in a rural residential zone, owners Paul and Leanne Langseth need a conditional use permit in order to operate the lodge as a vacation rental.
Paul Langseth explained some of the basics of the property to the planning commission. The 1,500 square-foot cabin has three bedrooms and two full bathrooms, a full kitchen, a living room and a meeting room. Two pullout couches and some additional mattresses provide a sleeping capacity of 14.
Up to now, the Langseths have used the lodge for family events such as weddings and reunions, and have allowed youth groups and other organizations to use the space for free or on a donation basis. They would like to use the cabin for vacation rentals to offset the cost of maintenance and upkeep of the property.
Commission members had a number of questions for the Langseths.
Marty Rickers raised a concern about the potential for dust to be kicked up by additional traffic to the property.
"We operate two businesses (New Beginnings Garden Center and Prairie Land Trees) on the property currently," Paul Langseth said, adding that he doesn't expect a lot of additional traffic.
Rickers also asked how the Langseths plan to police guests' activities and clean up after them, to which Paul explained that the property would be treated just the same as having guests in their home.
Members of the public were also given an opportunity to express their support or opposition to the proposed CUP.
Justin Langseth, speaking on behalf of himself and of Jamey and Al Langseth, told the commission he felt a vacation rental would affect his abutting farmland negatively.
"It's already on an under-maintained township road, and adding more traffic is only going to make that worse," he said, adding that locals don't routinely stop at the 280th Street/Sundberg Avenue intersection, so visitors are unlikely to do so.
He also expressed concern that a vacation rental would lower the value of his own home and that it would make it harder for him to expand his farm.
Kathy Henderschiedt responded that if the road is poorly maintained and if people are blowing through that stop sign, those issues should be taken to the township board, as Paul and Leanne Langseth have no control over road maintenance or public safety.
Both Rickers and Brent Feikema were concerned that guests could potentially bring boats on the lake, even though the property doesn't have good boat access. Feikema proposed adding a condition that no motorized boats or recreational water vehicles be allowed, but Nobles County Attorney Joseph Sanow clarified that the county does not have the authority to monitor boat traffic; that falls under the DNR's jurisdiction.
Since there are no other like properties in the county, John Penning suggested adding a condition that the permit only be approved for three years, after which it would come back to the board for review. The other commissioners were in agreement.
Dave Vander Kooi proposed another condition: that the Langseths must control road dust with water along 280th Street between the private driveway and Sundberg Avenue, anytime there are more than 20 people at the lodge at a time. The rest of the commission agreed.
Dick Schlichte asked if the number of people allowed at the lodge could be limited, and Rickers suggested a limit of 20 overnight guests or 100 at any one time. After some discussion, commission members also agreed to this condition.
The proposed CUP already had three conditions written into it: that the shoreline must be maintained according to Nobles County's shoreline ordinance; that the Langseths must install an ordinal directional sign at the corner of Sundberg Avenue and Nobles County 35; and that they must keep all permits up-to-date with all relevant entities.
With the additional three ordinances, the commission were unanimous in their support for the CUP. The request will come before the county board on Sept. 8.