Zoning for B&B/Wedding Venue in St. Paul

2 Replies

I came across a house in my neighborhood that would be an excellent B&B or wedding venue, but I was not sure if it would be legal to operate such an entity based given it's current zoning (R4). Frankly, I'm a bit confused how residential/commercial zoning works within the city limits of St. Paul. 

According to their website, R1-R4 lots are "one-family residential districts provide for an environment of predominantly low-density, one-family dwellings along with civic and institutional uses, public services and utilities that serve the residents in the districts. Because of their residential nature, these districts are not intended for more intensive uses such as small conference centers, private retreat centers and reception houses." This seems pretty straight forward, but what's the difference between R1 and R4?

Next I took a look at the University Club and the fact that it is designated RT2, or a "townhouse residential district (that) provides for two-, three-, and four-family and townhouse structures, along with civic and institutional uses, public services and utilities that serve residents in the district."

Based on this, it seems that a wedding venue doesn't actually need to be zoned as a business, but rather a townhouse that falls under the "public services and utilities that serve residents in the district" clause within the RT2 designation. Is that correct?

So, here are my questions:

- Does anyone have any experience with zoning variance within St. Paul? 

- Is it tough to change the zoning on a property? 

- Is the process drawn out? 

- Are there people within the city government that are instrumental in the process?

- What kind of zoning is needed to run a B&B/small hotel (if you aren't living in the property)?


I don't have any experience in St. Paul but can give you some general information.

The city planning and zoning commission generally tackles zoning variances and conditional use permits.  Looking quickly at St. Paul it looks like they have a separate zoning commission which is a sub-group of the planning commission.  I would first start talking to them about your planned use and see if you would need a conditional use permit or variance granted.  

If your use is not permitted, the process typically involves an application process, payment of a fee, and requires approval of the commission to move forward.  I believe this all has to happen as a matter of public record and because they have to complete their due diligence, vote to approve, and they usually only have one meeting a month, this can take some time.

As I recall St. Paul didn't have a particular ordinance regarding short term rentals, I believe they were waiting to see what Mpls was going to do and Mpls just passed their ordinances last month.  With that being said I would expect St. Paul to create similar ordinances to those recently approved by Mpls.  I made a post about these ordinances if you want to look it up, it should have been last month if you want to read them.

Hope that helps.


Bed and breakfast residences are permitted uses in the T1, T2, T3, T4, B1, B2, and B3 zoning districts. Bed and breakfast residences are permitted uses in residential and BC community business (converted) districts provided the following conditions are met. Conditions: In residential districts, a conditional use permit is required for bed and breakfast residences with two (2) or more guest rooms, and for any bed and breakfast located in a two-family dwelling. In RL-R4 residential districts, a bed and breakfast residence may contain no more than one (1) guest room. The bed and breakfast residence may be established in a one-family detached dwelling or a two-family dwelling, located within a single main building.

Regarding your statement for example the university club - being a long standing establishment they were probably granted a variance or non-conforming use. It sounds like from the info above you would have to apply for a conditional use permit in a "R" district. I personally haven't been through the process with the city's zoning department for this specific use, but as real estate slows down in this season - it might be quicker than other times of the year.


Hope this helps - let me know if I can be of any assistance!

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