October 11, 2010

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is involved in a rulemaking proceeding that will affect redevelopment and use of property along a 72-mile corridor on the Mississippi River stretching from Dayton in the northwest to the confluence of the St. Croix River near Hastings in the southwest.

The yet to be finalized regulations are intended to protect the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) established in 1976 to preserve the natural features and character of the Mississippi River that flows through the middle of the Twin Cities.  As a consequence, the rules may restrict development along the Mississippi River through Minneapolis, St. Paul and surrounding suburbs.

While Minneapolis and St. Paul officials understand the benefits of maintaining scenic features and protecting the environment, they have expressed concerns that the rules restricting setbacks and height go too far and conflict with portions of their comprehensive plans.  Owners and users of land in the corridor who have future plans for redevelopment could be affected by the new rules.

Metropolitan counties are also expressing concerns about the DNR’s rules.  Anoka County officials have expressed concerns that the standards that apply to parkland are more strict for non-urban parks than those that apply to urban parks.  For more information on concerns raised by Anoka County please see: http://abcnewspapers.com/2010/10/06/county-board-not-happy-with-river-corridor-standards/.  An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune October 12, 2010 edition reports that property owners along the river corridor are expressing concerns about that environmental groups are asserting too much influence on the DNR’s process.  A link to that story can be found at: http://www.startribune.com/local/104740034.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU.

During the rulemaking process the DNR has made an effort to involve the public, local government units (LGUs), other governmental and non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders.  The DNR has stated its goal is to issue a notice of intent to adopt new rules by January 1, 2011.  Persons who are affected by the rules may seek review of the rules in the form of a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  The deadlines for completing the rules vary depending on whether a hearing is required and other factors.  The Legislature provided funding during the 2010-2011 biennium for the rulemaking project.  The DNR advises that its current plans are to complete the rulemaking during this period.

A public information meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 from 4 to 7 PM in Hastings, Minnesota at Schaar’s Bluff Gathering Center (located in the Spring Lake Park Reserve), 8395 127th Street East in Hastings, Minnesota 55304.  The public is invited to review details about the rulemaking process, proposed districts on the corridor and the standards.  For information about all aspects of the MRCCA Rulemaking Project please visit:http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/waters/watermgmt_section/critical_area/rulemaking.html.

At Hessian & McKasy the environmental lawyers in the Environmental Attorney Practice Group have extensive experience with administrative law and regularly participate in rulemaking proceedings on behalf of clients.  For information about the professional services offered by Hessian & McKasy’s Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group please see:http://www.enviroattorney.net/practice/professional_services.php.

The views contained within this entry and on this website are my own and do not constitute those of Hessian & McKasy, a Professional Association.

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