What we do on land ultimately impacts the quality of our waters.
There are rules about what can be done with aquatic vegetation and how development can occur near the shoreline of lakes and rivers. Permits are required before any aquatic vegetation can be disturbed or chemicals applied or land moved or altered.
Below the high water mark of a lake or river, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has jurisdiction and must be contacted for appropriate permits, such as aquatic plant harvesting, chemical treatments or shoreline alterations.
Above the high water mark, the local government (either the county or municipality) has the jurisdiction for land-use permits. Within 1,000 feet of a lake and 300 feet of a river is called the "shoreland zone." Local Shoreland Ordinances set the rules about what land-use activities can take place in this zone.
A shoreland ordinance is a blueprint for development and land-use activities that are necessary to protect the quality of lake and rivers. It is not a building code, but it does define setbacks and the location of a structure on a lot, plus land-use practices within the shoreland zone.
The state of Minnesota first established a statewide shoreland ordinance in 1971; the last revision was in 1977. The state ordinance sets the minimum standards that a county or a local unit of government must adopt for water quality protection.
The distance from the water that a structure can be situated is called the setback distance, and it is determined by the classification of the lake, which is set by the DNR. For a general development lake, the setback is 75 feet. For a recreational development lake it is 150 feet and for a natural environment lake it is 200 feet. Shoreland ordinances can be adopted that are stricter than state standards, and they have been by Crow Wing County and many local municipalities.
The Crow Wing County Shoreland Zoning Ordinance requires:
a. Site permits prior to erection or installation of a new structure or altering or moving any structure.
b. Site permits for a boathouse, screen porch, fish house or detached deck.
c. Conditional use permits or grade and fill permits for most shoreland alterations such as excavation or filling.
d. Permits for septic system installation or repair.
e. Limited clearing of vegetation and trees.
f. No construction in bluff impact zones.
g. No construction or filling of wetlands in the shoreland impact zone, which is half of the building setback for the type of lake you reside on. For example, if you live on a general development lake, which has a general setback requirement of 75 feet, the shoreland impact zone would be 37.5 feet from the lake.
h. Water well compliance with state codes.
Before applying any chemicals, removing aquatic plants or disturbing the shoreline, go to the area DNR office in Brainerd for the appropriate permits. Before moving any dirt or constructing buildings, get the proper permits at the Crow Wing County Planning and Zoning Department or your local municipality. If you're having work done by a professional, make sure they have acquired the proper permits. Know your local shoreland ordinance and what you can and cannot do to keep our lakes and rivers clean. Follow the rules to protect our water.
(This column is sponsored by the Crow Wing County Water Planning Board and the Minnesota Lakes Association -- www.mnlakes.org)
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