State Rule Changes Relating to Docks, Moorings, and Commercial Marinas

On October 14, 2002, revised rules governing the Department of Natural Resources' Public Waters Work Permit Program went into effect. These rule changes will affect how docks, moorings and commercial marinas are regulated by DNR Waters under this program. The former rule language that required riparian property owners to obtain a DNR permit for any mooring of five or more watercraft has been replaced. A public waters work permit will now only be required if either or both of the following apply:

  • The structure is a marina (has commercial services).
  • The structure is more than 8 feet in width.

The DNR's rules for docks and mooring facilities focus on allowing structures that are consistent with or allowed under local land use controls. The pertinent rule language governing these types of structures is found in Minnesota Rules, 6115.0210, Subp. 4.A.

The rule changes will place a greater reliance upon local zoning officials to implement and enforce land use controls that address the increased demand for or interest in watercraft mooring. Existing provisions in Minnesota Statutes, Sections 86B.205 and 459.20 provide the authority to counties and cities to regulate the construction of permanent and temporary docks, moorings and commercial marinas. Several communities have already adopted changes to their local land use controls that have been designed to address specific community interests and watercraft user needs.

This web page provides the following examples of locally adopted ordinance language regarding watercraft mooring. While not exhaustive, the examples from three Minnesota cities are meant to illustrate the possibilities should other counties or cities identify the need to address the potential proliferation of docks, mooring spaces and marinas in their communities where land use decisions have been made on adjoining riparian properties:

In addition, the following conservation districts have language in their ordinances addressing watercraft-mooring issues: