Shoreland Management Key Protection Provisions

Key protection provisions provide greater levels of shoreland protection than other provisions. They are are identified with bold text in the shoreland model ordinance. Many of these standards are dimensional requirements or standards, such as minimum lot size, water and bluff structure setbacks, septic setbacks, impervious surface limits, and others.

Minnesota Rules 6120.2800 Subp. 3 specify the criteria and process for DNR review and approval of deviation from key protection provisions through “implementation flexibility”.

Specific Circumstances

Flexibility is intended to address specific circumstances where compliance with key protection provisions causes problems.

Examples include:

  • Heavily developed shoreland areas where development, existing prior to adoption of a shoreland ordinance, does not meet shoreland standards.
  • Central business districts located in shoreland.
  • Small cities where records of past development indicate that little shoreland development has occurred or is anticipated.
  • Shorelands of river with a “Tributary” classification.
  • Counties, or portions of counties, where vegetation or topography makes use of particular minimum standards impractical.
  • Shorelands that are managed under other water and related land resource management programs authorized by state or federal laws (such as Wilds and Scenic Rivers, Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area, Lower St. Croix Riverway) with goals compatible with the Shoreland Act and rules.
  • Individual lakes or systems of lakes that are being managed under standards developed specifically for those waters after a comprehensive study and planning effort. ?

Offsetting Alternate Approaches

DNR approval of deviations to these provisions will usually require offsetting higher standards on other provisions, unless the key protection provision isn’t applicable in a community. Local governments seeking flexibility, in most situations, should propose alternative approaches. These approaches should be related to and proportional to the impact of the requested flexibility.

These approaches may include:

  • The use of more restrictive or “higher” standards to offset the requested flexibility.
  • The use of standards or management approaches developed for specific water bodies based on comprehensive study and planning.

Flexibility is not allowed in the following areas:

  • Standards incorporated from other state and federal regulations.
  • Standards that conflict with other state and federal regulations.
  • Statutory shoreland boundaries.

Approval Process

DNR approval of flexibility from key protection provisions must be obtained during the preliminary review step, before submitting a near-final ordinance or amendment for conditional approval.

Local governments seeking flexibility must:

  • Identify proposed flexibility on the shoreland ordinance/amendment checklist.
  • On the checklist, explain the reasons for the flexibility and propose alternative approaches to offset the flexibility.
  • Contact your DNR Area Hydrologist to negotiate a flexibility agreement.
  • You and your DNR Area Hydrologist must agree on the flexibility and offsetting alternative approaches before submitting a near-final ordinance or amendment for conditional approval.