Land Use & On-Site Wastewater Planning

Planning-Land Use & On-site Wastewater

October 8, 2021

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Welcome to the St. Louis County Land Use and On-Site Wastewater Planning news. You are receiving this message because you have signed up for updates with either St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department Land Use Division or On-Site Wastewater Division. This resource will keep you updated with information about both land use and on-site wastewater news.

Greetings from the Land Use and On-Site Wastewater Divisions. Both divisions are housed within the Planning and Community Development Department and administer separate permit programs related to the development and use of property. Although the permitting programs are separate, many projects require reviews and approvals from both divisions. As such, the divisions would like to provide an update on topics that relate to both land use and on-site wastewater permits.

Recreational Vehicles (RVs)

RVs located on parcels solely accessed by water are considered dwellings. They require both a land use permit and a subsurface sewage treatment system (septic) permit. RVs shall require a Type I, Type III (mound, at-grade, trench, seepage bed, graywater), Type IV (pre-treatment) or Type V (engineered) Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS). A Type II (privy) system may be installed if there is no pressurized water, plumbing and/or plumbing fixtures in the recreational vehicle. Water shall be hand-carried only.

RVs may be allowed on conforming parcels provided all land use standards are met, and there are no violations of Zoning Ordinance 62 or Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Ordinance 61. Please contact the Planning and Community Development Department Land Use and/or On-Site Wastewater Divisions with any questions related to the use of RVs. The Department's contact information is listed near the bottom of this page.

Land Alterations in Shoreland Areas

Please be reminded, contractors are required to follow land alteration and stormwater control best management practices for the installation of septic systems on shoreland property. Additional permits may not be required, however, administrative and performance standards shall apply for all land alterations, shoreline vegetation alterations, and stormwater management within 300 feet of lakes and rivers. Please see the fact sheets below for more information.

Vacation Home Rental

Short Term Rentals

The County Board adopted ordinance amendments in 2020 requiring that a permit be obtained from the county for short term/vacation home rentals.

Property located within St. Louis County zoning jurisdiction that has been listed, rented, or is otherwise available as a short term rental requires a performance standard permit and a passing septic record review. The property must meet all short term rental standards  and in some situations will require approval by the St. Louis County Planning Commission. Additional licensing may also be required by the Minnesota Department of Health. The occupancy number allowed on a property to be used for short term rental may not exceed the number determined by the Minnesota Department of Health or the number of people that a SSTS treatment system is sized for. If the numbers differ, the lesser of the two shall be the maximum number occupants allowed for the short term rental permit.

In the interest of all owners of a shared septic system, a short term rental permit may be applied for by a property owner(s) if there is written agreement between all owners associated with the shared system and the short term rental permittee/owner/operator.

Failure to obtain proper permitting for short term/vacation home rental property will initiate a compliance process. If it is determined that you do need a permit, one will need to be obtained prior to any additional listing, renting or otherwise advertising the property as a short term rental.

For further information regarding short term/vacation rentals please click here.

Fast Track Gov - Online Permitting

Over the last year, the St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department launched its Land Use and Septic permitting system which allows contractors and homeowners to apply and pay for permit applications online. Applying online is the only option if you are planning on using a credit card for payment. Due to high permit activity in the 2021 season, it is strongly encouraged to start using the Online Citizen Portal when applying for land use and septic permits. Applying online will also help to decrease the time necessary to process your application.

Before applying online, you will first need to create an account. Please visit the Planning and Community Development Department webpage for details on applying for a permit online click here or to apply online click here: Citizen Portal

Contact Us

On-Site Wastewater

On-Site Wastewater questions, please contact:

Duluth Office: (218) 725-5200
Virginia Office: (218) 749-0625

On-Site Wastewater and Water Manager
Ryan Logan
(218) 725-5014


Land Use

Land Use questions, please contact:

Duluth Office: (218) 725-5000
Virginia Office: (218) 749-7103

Land Use Manager
Jenny Bourbonais
(218) 749-0629