NISSWA - Lakeshore owners are allowed to have flowerpots, benches and flags at the end of their docks.
But the floating private marinas may have to go.
DNR officials heard from area residents Thursday at a public meeting at the Nisswa Community Center, accepting their comments about temporary dock regulation in place until Nov. 30.
The comments will help the DNR create a permanent regulation concerning docks and other water access structures, expected to be in place by spring.
Tom Hovey, DNR public waters hydrologist, gave his first presentation to more than 100 people during the three-hour open house and also answered their questions.
The temporary statewide regulation, effective until Nov. 30, allows a platform at the end of a dock to be a maximum of 10.5 feet by 16 feet, or 170 square feet. The maximum allowable width of the dock leading to the platform remains at 8 feet.
The DNR is taking public comments about dock regulations until Oct. 1 and a final decision about a permanent general permit will be made by the end of the year, Hovey said.
Hovey said nearly every state regulates docks. He said that with increased lakeshore development, the cumulative impact of docks are affecting fish habitat. Docks and boatlifts may shade out important aquatic plants and eliminate crucial habitat where fish spawn, feed, grow and find shelter from predators, according to the DNR.
Hovey said studies have found that if given a preference, fish prefer undeveloped shoreline. Docks reduce food sources, favor predators and reduce habitat complexity, Hovey said.
In addition, the DNR has received an increasing number of complaints in recent years about the number of dock platforms over public waters that exceed statewide dock regulations. Under the current regulations, property owners can, without a permit, install a dock in order to reach navigable water, provided the dock is no larger than 8 feet wide and doesn't obstruct navigation.
Hovey said the DNR wants to know how Minnesotans feel about this issue, such as what do they value, what are their lake access needs and their thoughts on private occupation on public waters.
Several residents spoke at Thursday's open house in opposition of the permanent dock regulations.
"Hell, everybody's got 10-foot docks," one lakeshore owner said. "I think the DNR has got to get realistic."
"You tell me there's no fish (around docks)," another lakeshore owner said. "When the kids are swimming around my dock the fish are biting them."
"You tell me when I pay $12,000 in taxes that I'm not allowed to use it?," said Charles McQuinn, a Nisswa area real estate developer who said he owned 2,700 feet of shoreline on North Long Lake. "We pay for the school district here."
Tom Thompson, a Crosslake lakeshore property owner, said he knew he was in the minority at Thursday's open house but said the regulations should be even more restrictive to protect the public waterways.
"The lake is like a public park out here," Thompson said. "Would you build a platform in a public park?"
Comment forms are available on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov/input/issues. Written comments will be accepted until Oct. 1 by e-mail to email@example.com or by mail to Dock Comments, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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