Shoreland standards protect water quality
Hubbard County commissioners have scheduled a work session to review proposed changes in the county-wide subdivision and shoreland ordinances for 10 a.m. Thursday. They've been reviewing the changes for months, handling the subject like a firecra...
Hubbard County commissioners have scheduled a work session to review proposed changes in the county-wide subdivision and shoreland ordinances for 10 a.m. Thursday. They've been reviewing the changes for months, handling the subject like a firecracker with a lit fuse.
And the changes don't even incorporate the alternative shoreland standards. Our commissioners seem to wish would sink to the bottom of a lake somewhere so they don't have to deal with them. While the Hubbard County board is messing around, development is proceeding at an ever-faster pace on area lakes. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources northeast regional office submitted the following opinion on the need to be more progressive in our attitudes about development. We agree with what they say.
Every day more people are choosing to live and recreate in the lakes counties of Minnesota. The Minnesota State Demographic Center has projected growth in many of the lake-rich counties to exceed 35 percent in the next 25 years. There is widespread concern about how this increase in development will affect fish and wildlife habitat.
The subdivision process is an important element in the development of shoreland. A well-thought out subdivision process and ordinance are essential to good land use planning. Good subdivision standards reflect and complement the community vision for itself and its comprehensive land use plan.
Traditional lot and block developments, or conventional subdivisions, do not adequately preserve or protect the state's shoreland. Conventional subdivisions have uniform lots and blocks. They spread development throughout a parcel of land without considering natural or cultural features. This has led to shoreland fragmentation, with homes and docks every 100, 150 or 200 feet regardless of vulnerable or unique natural features or conditions.
Conventional subdivisions provide few green spaces for walking, little habitat for wildlife and few opportunities for residents to interact with their neighbors.
In contrast, a conservation subdivision is characterized by common open space and clustered compact lots. These subdivisions create greater community value, while allowing for the residential densities consistent with prevailing densities and a community's comprehensive land use plan.
Conservation subdivisions provide better lots for homeowners while protecting water quality, promoting economic development and creating open space for recreational use, wildlife and riparian buffers to protect water quality.
Many people find these developments more attractive. Open spaces provide walking and biking trails, play areas and community gathering places. Protected natural areas mean lower development costs, preservation of wildlife habitat and less pollution runoff into lakes and wetlands.
Developers can still build at full residential densities, and they often sell lots at a premium because many of us prefer living next to permanently preserved open space. Development costs are lower for conservation subdivisions due to much less mass grading and also due to shorter and narrower street pavements. Conservation subdivisions often include innovative stormwater management designs that reduce costly infrastructure.
All this leads to both higher property values and higher community value, which strengthens local economies. In addition, these developments do not require public entities or charities to establish open space areas.
The Governor's Clean Water Initiative pilot project brought people together to create an alternative set of shoreland development standards. Citizens who worked on the shoreland standards update project recommended promoting conservation subdivisions to protect lake water quality. The alternative standards could serve as the foundation for local government administered ordinances.