DNR Works on Changes to Mississippi River Development

Updated: 07/23/2014 6:08 AM
Created: 07/22/2014 10:47 PM
By: Tim Sherno

In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature instructed the Department of Natural Resources to update 35-year-old rules regulating development along the Mississippi River.

The DNR is currently taking public comment on a draft proposal titled "Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area."

Dan Petrik, a land use specialist for the DNR, says the the goal now is to listen. "The process we'll use is intended to be inclusive and bring a lot of voices to the table, and we'll have to sort through a lot of those."

Irene Jones, the River Corridor Project Director for the Friends of the Mississippi River, welcomes the changes. "We think it's overdue, and we're really happy that it's happening," she said.

Michael Belaen, with the St.Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, says he understands the challenge faced by the DNR. "I don't think it's going to be easy, no." Balaen said. He is hopeful new rules will avoid impacting local business.

"For the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce, this is an issue about protecting property rights, and insuring that economic investment continues to happen in Minnesota," Balean said.

Since there are passionate and conflicting interests on both sides of the proposed new rules, the DNR's Petrik admits the process will be frustrating. "At the end of the day probably nobody will like this, but we hope it's something people can live with," he said.

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