The history of Minnesota's Shoreland Management Program dates back to 1969 with the passage of the Shoreland Management Act. Minimum development standards - such as structure setbacks, height limits, impervious surface limits, lot requirements, vegetation removal and land alteration requirements - are established in state rules (Minnesota Rules, part 6120.2500 - 6120.3900) and administered through local ordinances.
Shorelands typically contain important habitat and erodible soils, which present a high risk to surface water pollution if not anchored with natural deep-rooted vegetation. Many of these areas are highly sensitive to development. Shoreland standards are designed to accommodate development around sensitive water bodies in a sustainable way - reducing impacts on water quality and preserving the natural character of the water body.
The Shoreland Management Program is the most comprehensive of the state's shoreland and river-related programs that guide land use.
Other programs include:
- Wild and Scenic Rivers Program,
- Lower Saint Croix Riverway Program, and the
- Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area Program.
Timeline of Shoreland Management Standards
- Required counties to adopt shoreland management controls
- Directed DNR to develop rules/oversee program
1970 - Shoreland Rules for Counties
- Established lake and river classifications
- Established zoning standards (lot size, setbacks, subdivisions)
- Established sewage treatment provisions (pre-dated PCA rules)
1976 - Shoreland rules extended to cities
- Addressed agricultural uses
- Identified priority cities to adopt shoreland protections
- Intent was to develop rules for the north-central lakes area as part of Governor Pawlenty’s Clean Water Initiative in 2003. Goal changed to provide a set of voluntary alternative standards for use throughout the state. Twelve communities adopted these alternative standards.
2007 - Legislature directs DNR to commence rulemaking to update Shoreland Rules
- Extensive public participation process conducted
- Draft rules and SONAR completed in early 2010, but rules were returned to DNR
- DNR’s rulemaking authority lapses