Shoreline ordinances need update in coming monthsWORTHINGTON — Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When I look out over a wetland full of birds and ducks, I see an example of nature’s beauty.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
When I look out over a wetland full of birds and ducks, I see an example of nature’s beauty.
Others will look at the same thing, and see waste ground that is incapable of making a profit.
The same type of scenario takes place when looking and the shorelines of lakes and streams. Some property owners think a manicured lawn down to waters edge with an impressive residence in full view is beautiful.
Others value a natural shoreline filled with native vegetation and a home so secluded that you can hardly see it from the water.
How these differing views are managed is by the policies of the shoreline ordinances in place for each particular region of the state.
The state of Minnesota has put this responsibility on the local units of government for implementation and enforcement. This local control results in a great variation of the ordinances in place depending on where you live.
Pubic opinion has always held that the responsibility to regulate shoreline development was controlled by the Department of Natural Resources. This state agency helps cities and other governmental units with technical advice and expertise, but is generally a cooperating entity for the most part. Most communities have their own, more extensive ordinances and the DNR helps interpret those rules.
I know of several different examples where it seemed almost impossible to determine who was actually the bottom line regarding a shoreline issue.
The state of Minnesota does have its own minimum set of standards for shoreline development, and they were last updated in 1989. This is 20 years ago, and a lot has changed on our Minnesota lakes since then.
The legislature has stated that by Jan. 15, 2009 the DNR has to start setting up a procedure for the updating of these rules. Public input is requested and you can provide that input by logging on to the DNR website. Input received up until mid-May will be included.
When I think of updating shoreline ordinances, I think of rules that restrict digging up or severely disturbing the natural shoreline. Other items might include what you can cut down as far as trees and what types of weed removal in the water a property owner can do. These are just a small but important part of the process.
After I read the 32-page shoreline ordinances document which is in use in Worthington and the draft copy of some of the comments that have already been submitted by different cities and counties on this issue, it expanded twenty fold. The multiple of issues that were brought to my attention with the little bit of research that I did encompassed a much bigger picture.
Things like building setbacks, housing densities, storm water runoff and retention seemed like the most pressing issues for some respondents. I never really thought that the number of apartments across the street fell under shoreline management rules.
The actual list of issues that stakeholders who responded include water quality, habitat, density, open space, property rights, rules philosophy and administration.
After almost 20 years I think that it is high time that this update is being pursued. With the accelerating pace of development on even some of the smallest lakes in the state, we need to work hard to ensure that this additional pressure on our water resources are well managed to protect what we all love and care about.
Everybody sees a different picture, even if they are all looking at the same one. Proper shoreline policies will help reduce conflicts, protect the environment, and help everyone see the same picture.
Log on to the DNR website and turn in your two cents. The bigger the pool of ideas the more accurate the outcome can be.