A Guide to Buying and Managing Shoreland

Section 6: Statewide Shoreland Management Standards

Development Standards

The standards specified in the tables have been adopted by most counties and many cities in their local zoning ordinances. Before you build a structure, install or replace a sewage treatment system, or substantially alter the shoreland landscape, you must obtain the appropriate permit. Permits are available from the local zoning administrator, usually located in the county courthouse or city hall.

Impact Zones

The areas immediately adjacent to lakes, rivers, and bluffs are critical in maintaining good and visual qualities of these resources. Shore and Bluff Impact Zones have been created to protect these areas.

ALWAYS CHECK WITH LOCAL ZONING OFFICIALS TO VERIFY THE EXACT LOCAL REQUIREMENTS SINCE THEY MAY BE STRICTER THAN THE STATEWIDE MINIMUMS.

  • Structure Setback from:
    • Top of the bluff - 30 feet
    • Unplatted cemetery - 50 feet
    • Right-of-way line of federal, state, or county highway - 50 feet
    • Right-of-way line of town road, public street, or other unclassified road - 20 feet
  • Shore Impact Zone is one-half the distance of the building setback; for agricultural land uses, the zone is 50 feet.
  • Bluff Impact Zone includes the bluff and land within 20 feet from the top. Structures and accessory facilities, except stairways and landings, must not be placed within bluff impact zones.
  • Building Elevation must be a minimum of 3 feet above the highest known water elevation.
  • Sewage System Elevation must be a minimum of 3 feet above the highest groundwater level or bedrock for all lake and river classes. A conforming sewage treatment system is required for all future development and any site improvements.
  • Building Height limit is 25 feet in city residential districts.
  • Impervious Surfaces are not permitted to cover more than 25 percent of the total lot.
  • Water-Oriented Structures must be set back at least 10 feet from the Ordinary High Water Level (OHW) and limited to one structure (e.g., a boathouse).