HUDSON -- The city of Hudson and St. Croix County have filed a complaint against the owner of two short-term rental properties in Hudson.
The two entities say Brooke Fleetwood of Hudson has been operating the “Pink Castle” on Vine Street and “Goth House” on Second Street without the proper licensing from the city or the county.
Fleetwood feels the measure is retribution following a widely publicized ordeal when she painted her business across from City Hall pink, according to Fleetwood’s attorney Mike Patton.
The city’s main concern regarding the lack of licensing is safety, City Administrator Aaron Reeves said.
“We want to make sure that any of the facilities that are there that are available to the public, which are people that are renting these facilities, are safe,” Reeves said.
St. Croix County requires licensing for tourist rooming houses within the county. Tourist rooming houses are all lodging places other than hotels and motels that offer sleeping accommodations to tourists or transients, as defined by Wisconsin State Statute.
The city of Hudson requires a license for all short-term rental housing, defined as a residential dwelling that is offered for rent for a fee and for fewer than 30 consecutive days. Approval of a city short-term rental housing requires a tourist rooming house license from the county.
According to the complaint filed Aug. 9, Fleetwood has been operating, advertising and renting the properties without these licenses and in violation of both city and county requirements.
The county first received a complaint in June 2018 that Fleetwood was operating without a license. In August of that year, the county determined after an inspection that the Pink Castle was not licensable as a tourist rooming house. The pool and hot tub were not constructed to code and an adequate exit was needed on the third floor as it contained a sleeping room. The pool at the Goth House was also stated to not be constructed to code.
Under county ordinance, pools and hot tubs not constructed or modified to code cannot be made available to guests.
The main point of contention surrounds the county’s assertion that the pools are commercial as part of an AirBnB rental, Patton said.
The city of Hudson’s short-term rental housing ordinance was approved in June 2020. The complaint states Fleetwood submitted incomplete applications for Pink Castle Oct. 26, 2020 and Goth House April 29, 2021.
In social media posts, Fleetwood said she attempted to apply for licenses since October 2020 when the law was passed, but never received an approval or denial. Fleetwood said the checks for her license were cashed but she never heard anything further.
According to the complaint, city and county staff reached out several times over the course of the last few years with orders to correct violations and reminders.
“Fleetwood has ignored mandates from the City and the County regarding licensing, use, and advertising of the pool and hot tub to guests at the Pink Castle and the pool at the Goth House, thereby intentionally defying applicable state, county, and local laws,” the complaint states.
The resolution the city is looking for is to see the properties properly licensed, Reeves said.
“We know that they bring people in, and as long as they do so in a safe and respectful manner to the neighbors, we’re more than happy to have them,” he said.
Patton said they are working to see if Fleetwood can come into compliance if the demands are supported by law.
“One of the issues we’re addressing is what’s happening with other AirBnBs? Are they required to comply with the same rules about this commercial label?” Patton said.
The city has not had any other issues with licensing enforcement with other short-term rental properties in the area, and has successfully worked through the process with the other ones in the city, Reeves said.
“We don’t have issues with short-term rentals, but we do have requirements in our ordinance,” he said.