On June 2, the DNR issued a request for comments (RFC) on the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) working draft rules and accepted comments through September 30, 2014. During this informal comment period, the DNR received about 560 comments from local governments, residents and businesses, and a variety of agencies and organizations. The DNR has analyzed the issues raised, held additional stakeholder meetings to clarify comments, and is currently wrapping up a final round of revisions to the draft rules before submitting the final draft to the Office of the Revisor. Once the Revisors Office has reviewed and formatted the draft, the DNR intends to publish the Notice of Intent in early 2015, initiating the formal rulemaking phase, at which point the draft rules and Statement of Need and Reasonableness (SONAR) will be released for public review.
The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) is a unique land corridor along the Mississippi River within the seven-county metropolitan area. Land development in the 54,000-acre corridor is currently guided by state regulations that are implemented through local plans and zoning ordinances. The MRCCA was established in the 1970s by Executive Order, a type of state regulation that cannot be readily changed or updated. In 2009, the Minnesota Legislature directed the DNR to establish rules to replace the outdated standards in the Executive Order. The rulemaking process was put on hold in 2011 and the DNR's authority expired. In 2013, the Legislature restored DNR's rulemaking authority and made changes to the statutory language guiding rule development to better address local government concerns.
What do the proposed rules mean for local governments, homeowners, and businesses within the MRCCA? Local governments will eventually need to update their plans and ordinances for this area. Most homeowners and businesses should see little if any change in their status.
For more information, see below.