WATERWORKS by Gordon Prickett for 9/1/2010 Age
NEW SHORELAND RULES?
The latest news from Governor Pawlenty was a disappointment to so many who had a part in the state-wide effort to upgrade the 1989 rules for Minnesota shoreland development. In the five-county region where we live, this upgrade process began in 2004 with a pilot project that gave us Alternative Standards in December 2006. After a lot of study, controversy, and public meetings, Aitkin County Commissioners chose the most appropriate new Standards for our County, and reached a unanimous decision in October 2008 on the Amendment of the Aitkin County Shoreland Management Ordinance.
Our new regulations encourage resorts to develop and expand, offer developers a conservation subdivision approach that makes each shoreline property more valuable and appealing. We added protection for the shores of small lakes between 10 and 25 acres in area. And there is new flexibility when protecting the shore impact zone from damage.
While the proposed state-wide rules might offer some benefits for the lakes and rivers here, we moved ahead in timely fashion without waiting for the contentious political outcome that still remains at least three years in the future.
WHAT ABOUT CLEAN WATER NOW?
The irony of Tim Pawlenty’s late gubernatorial decision is that it was his Clean Water Initiative and his new Clean Water Cabinet that got Minnesota moving on the issue of protecting this valuable state resource. The legislature picked up the idea and passed the law requiring the DNR to conduct statewide rule-making, starting from the five-county Alternative Standards pilot project that we in Aitkin County had helped to create.
Lake associations and water coalitions across the state are not about to let the work we have accomplished so far just drain away. Minnesota Waters and the Aitkin County Lakes And Rivers Association (ACLARA) are gearing up to inform voters and boaters about this setback.
The DNR officials who labored long and brought about fair and flexible new rules need your support. It’s time to renew this statewide effort to preserve, protect, and enjoy Minnesota’s waters. In November 2008 we voted for the sales tax Legacy Amendment about clean water, parks and trails, fish and wildlife habitat, and for cultural arts. Now we should make sure that better rules accompany our clean water money.