Adopting and Amending Shoreland Ordinances

Local governments with shoreland must have a shoreland ordinance that complies with the state’s shoreland rules.

The DNR reviews local shoreland ordinances for compliance with the state shoreland rules.

The DNR uses the shoreland model ordinance to evaluate new ordinances and amendments. The model is updated regularly to reflect statute and rule changes. Communities interested in adopting or amending a shoreland ordinance should use the shoreland model ordinance.

Instructions for Local Governments

This process is designed so that local governments obtain conditional DNR approval of proposed ordinances or amendments in time for the public hearing. Conditional approval means that the proposed ordinance or amendment is mostly compliant with the rules and only a few relatively minor changes may be needed before the ordinance is adopted by the board or council.

If the ordinance or amendment has major deviations from the rules or includes other complexities, work with your area hydrologist to resolve issues ahead of time. Concerns must be resolved before the DNR will issue conditional approval.

Local governments can expedite conditional approval by using the shoreland model ordinance language for new ordinances and amendments and working with the DNR early in the process.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Notify the DNR of Intent to Adopt or Amend an Ordinance (Optional)

Informing the DNR gives us a chance to schedule time to help your effort stay on schedule.

  1. Complete the Notice of Intent to Adopt or Amend form.
  2. Email your materials to the DNR using the submission button below.
Step 2: Request DNR Preliminary Review of a Rough Draft Ordinance/Amendment (optional)

The preliminary review is intended to help local governments develop “near final” language ready for conditional approval. The DNR’s involvement in this phase is especially important if the community will be adopting a new ordinance, making comprehensive changes to an existing ordinance, or requesting to deviate from shoreland provisions through the implementation flexibility process. The DNR will comment on draft language, identify issues early, and provide suggestions on language for DNR approval.

To request a DNR preliminary review of a rough draft ordinance/amendment, submit the following items as soon as the proposed ordinance is ready:

  1. Proposed ordinance or amendment as a Word document:
    • showing all additions, deletions, and other changes from the model shoreland ordinance or the existing ordinance, and
    • explaining why provisions have been added, deleted, or changed using comments in the Word document. Clarifying and explaining changes will reduce back-and-forth communications and expedite the review.
  2. Email explaining:
    • what you are trying to accomplish with the new ordinance or amendment,
    • proposed offsetting higher standards, if requesting implementation flexibility, and
    • anticipated schedule for public meetings, public hearings and adoption.

Note: The DNR may require a checklist, depending on the complexity of the ordinance or amendment.

Send an email, along with your proposed ordinance or amendment to the DNR using the submission button below.

Step 3: Request DNR Conditional Approval Review of Near Final Draft Ordinance/Amendment (Required)

The DNR will review proposed ordinances and amendments and provide comments for review at public hearings. The DNR will provide conditional approval if the ordinance or amendment is substantially compliant with the shoreland rules. If they deviate significantly, the DNR will suggest changes, but will not provide conditional approval until the changes have been made.

To request a DNR conditional review of a near final draft, submit the following items at least 30 days before a public hearing.

New Ordinance

  1. Complete the New Ordinance Checklist.
  2. The proposed ordinance as a Word document showing all additions and deletions from the model shoreland ordinance.
  3. Notices of public hearings to consider the ordinance (must be submitted to the DNR at least 10 days before the public hearing, not 30 days).
  4. Email your materials to the DNR using the submission button below.

Amendment to an Existing Ordinance

  1. Complete the Amendment Checklist.
  2. Proposed amendments as a Word document showing all additions and deletions.
  3. A notice of public hearings to consider the ordinance (must be submitted to the DNR at least 10 days before the public hearing, not 30 days).
  4. Email your materials to the DNR using the submission button below.

An amendment to an existing ordinance may require a comprehensive review of the entire shoreland ordinance for compliance with state rules. This will only occur in select cases where:

  • the organization differs significantly from when it was last approved by the DNR,
  • a spot check reveals deviations from minimum standards with no record of DNR approval, or
  • there is strong citizen concern about non-compliance of the existing ordinance.

In these cases, the DNR will notify the local government immediately and work with them to make any necessary changes to achieve compliance.

Step 4: Hold Public Hearing and Revises Ordinance/Amendment Consistent with DNR Conditions (Required)

The local government holds a public hearing to consider the ordinance or amendment. The DNR comments and conditional approval letter are read and/or entered into the public record. The ordinance or amendment is revised according to DNR conditions of approval before adoption.

Step 5: Adopt Ordinance/Amendment and Request DNR Final Approval of Adopted Ordinance/Amendment (Required)

The local government governing body adopts the ordinance or amendment and submits the final adopted ordinance to the DNR. The DNR will review the ordinance or amendment adopted by the governing authority for consistency with that receiving conditional approval. If they are consistent, the DNR will send a final approval letter to the local government and the ordinance or amendment will be effective.

To request DNR review and final approval of adopted ordinance or amendment, submit the following items within 10-days of adoption.

  1. Adopted ordinance or amendment signed and dated by chief elected official (PDF document).
  2. Summary of changes made to the ordinance or amendments that deviate from conditions of approval, if any.
  3. Completed Ordinance Processing Checklist, and copies of all items required on the checklist, including affidavit of publication.
  4. Email your materials to the DNR using the submission button below.


Submit Materials

Email all proposed draft ordinances/amendments, checklists, public hearing notices, and all email correspondence about this amendment using the submission button below. Please copy your area hydrologist.

Submit Your Materials



Local Government Requirements for Shoreland Ordinances

  • Minnesota statutes (103F.215 and 103F.221 ) and Minnesota rules (6120.2800, Subd. 1 ) requires counties and municipalities with shoreland within their boundaries to have a shoreland ordinance in substantial compliance with the state shoreland standards.
  • Minnesota statutes (414.033 Subd. 11 ) requires municipalities that annex shoreland to adopt a shoreland ordinance for that area or amend the existing shoreland ordinance to include that area.
  • Minnesota statutes (394.33 ) requires townships that take on zoning authority to have a shoreland ordinance that is at least as restrictive as the county shoreland ordinance. Towns are defined as a municipality per Minnesota statute (462.352 Subd. 2 )


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