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Governor sends new lakeshore regulations back to the drawing board

Lake cabin
Lake cabin

Minnesota regulators spent years devising more protective shore land and dock rules to guide new development along state lakes. But according to a report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Gov. Tim Pawlenty rejected their revisions, calling them "overreaching'' and undermining individual property rights as well as local control.
In a letter to Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Holsten, Pawlenty said, "The rules you forwarded to me regarding these issues do not strike a proper balance between protection of our lakes and waterways and the equally important right of our citizens to enjoy them and their property.'' The Governor suggested the Legislature take up lakeshore issues during the next session.
If the governor had accepted the draft changes, a public hearing process would have begun and new standards could have been in place next year. By his rejection, decades-old and out of date lakeshore standards for construction and docks will stay in force.
Lakeshore development has increased in recent years and the DNR suggestions are a mixture of new standards aimed at protecting lakes from development pressures. Among the new standards DNR suggested were restrictions on size limits for docks as well as stricter requirements for many new buildings, developments and sewage systems.
According to an Associated Press story last week, the DNR has already started to penalize townships for allowing non-compliant shoreline setbacks. Density and short setbacks can result in more runoff from lawns, hard surfaces and septic systems, increasing phosphorus and promoting algae growth.
The DNR will revisit lakeshore regulations in the attempt to update rules originally made for the days when cabins were smaller and fewer people recreated on Minnesota lakes.