This wasn't necessarily a place to be heard, which may have been a good thing. It was difficult to hear anything over the buzz generated during a shoreland rules open house Tuesday night at the Northland Arboretum.
And that spoke volumes about how folks in these parts view their shoreland.
As did the red dots.
Tuesday's open house, hosted by the DNR, wasn't so much a venue for attendees to voice their concerns about possible changes in shoreland regulations as it was a place to gather information about the revision process.
"We're at the beginning of the process. We're just starting to gather information," said Pete Otterson of the DNR, manager of the shoreland rules update project. "Tonight we want to give a brief overview on what we're doing because whatever gets developed has to be doable at the local level."
Brainerd was the ninth stop in two weeks in a whirlwind tour of open houses conducted by the DNR. The final three open houses are scheduled this week in Hibbing, Bemidji and International Falls.
Paul Radomski (left) of the DNR office in Brainerd and the senior scientist for the shoreland rules update project spoke with open house participants Tuesday at the Northland Arboretum.
Brainerd Dispatch/Brian S. Peterson
Tuesday's open house drew a standing-room-only crowd of about 150 to the lower level of the arb.
"The best yet," Otterson said of the size of the Brainerd gathering in comparison to the other open houses.
After a short introduction by Otterson, people were urged to visit with DNR and local government types gathered at "booths" situated along the floor on the lower level of the arb. That's when attendees turned up the volume. At any given time, any and all could speak with those individuals at the booths. They didn't waste the opportunity.
Although their concerns weren't necessarily addressed, attendees were able to identify issues of importance by placing red dots next to issues listed on a pair of boards near the front of the room (the second board was brought in for "additional issues"). About 15 minutes into the process, more red dots were needed.
Engulfed in red dots were issues such as dock spacing, shoreland alterations, shore impact zone and protecting lakeshore owners' rights.
"We're collecting the dots at each (of the open house sites)," Otterson said. "(That way) we know where the different comments are coming from. It gives us some analysis. There are some places where (lakeshore owners' rights) hasn't even come up. But it also came up at Minnetonka (in the first open house June 3)."
According to the DNR, the first phase of the rule revision process is issue identification. Then it will be on to the second phase - policy and option recommendations. The third phase is the review of preliminary revisions. According to Tom Hovey of the DNR Waters Division, revised rules will be in place in January 2010.
Shoreland rules are statewide minimum standards used by local governments when adopting land-use ordinances that affect shoreland areas of lakes and rivers. The existing shoreland rules, last amended in 1989, address such topics as lake/river classifications, shoreland alterations, subdivisions and structure placement.
According to the DNR, the shoreland rules update project is an opportunity to evaluate the existing rules and develop comprehensive solutions to address shoreland management for the future of Minnesota.
For more on the project, go to mndnr.gov/waters/shore land.html.
BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at brian.peterson@brainerd dispatch.com or 855-5864.
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