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Businesses want voice in Mississippi River regulations

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Playing by the Mississippi River
Playing by the Mississippi River in Mendota.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson/File

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking input on how to regulate development along the 72-mile Mississippi River corridor in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

A second round of proposed rules for development along the river has done little to quell the controversy that stymied the initial effort.  Both the business community and environmental groups say the Department of Natural Resources has more work to do. 

The DNR's goal is to regulate development in order to protect the corridor while also giving cities some flexibility and recognizing existing and planned developments. 

But Matt Kramer of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce says the new rules could mean existing firms will fall out of compliance, posing problems when they want to expand.

"The bank looks at you and says, your property is in a non-conforming status, highly likely that any expansion is going to be disputed to a zoning appeals board. So all of a sudden, your future is dependent upon a bunch of people deciding whether your property should get a zoning variance," he said. "I'd like to think that once we weigh in, we'll find some middle ground, because the intent is right."

Meanwhile, leaders from the group Friends of the Mississippi River have said giving cities flexibility would weaken the regulations, which are supposed to preserve the corridor.

The first of three public meetings on the rules will take place next week in Anoka.