LIC Votes on Shoreland Ordinance Amendments

Below is an update provided by Karen Engelbretson, PCALR President, on the January 7th LIC committee vote on the Brown/Jarchow/Nelson amendments.

Polk County Land Information Committee (LIC) met on Tuesday, January 7. At this meeting the LIC was to decide whether to include the Herschel Brown/Adam Jarchow/Chris Nelson amendments to the Shoreland Protection Ordinance draft, part of the Polk County Zoning Ordinance draft prepared over the past two years by a Citizens Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Group. 

During public comment:

Gary Noren, executive director of the St Croix River Association stated his concern that adopting the amendments could result in additional phosphorus in runoff to Polk County Lakes, all of which drain into the Apple River, which flows to the St. Croix. The St Croix River has exceeded its total daily phosphorus load, is now considered impaired, and the Apple River has been identified as major source of contributing phosphorus.

Cheryl Clemens, Harmony Environmental, prepared a letter addressing each of the proposed amendments by Brown/Jarchow/Nelson. In summary, Cheryl’s opinion is that development close to the water has negative impacts to habitat and water quality, and our ordinance is an important tool to minimize those impacts.

Numerous comments from property owners on Pipe Lakes, Balsam Lake, Big Round Lake favored rejecting the amendments.

Jeremy Williamson, Polk County Water Quality Specialist, presented data showing the effects of phosphorus loading to the lakes from development and compared the difference in runoff between properties 100 feet, 75 feet and 40 feet from the water. His data is strong evidence that development 40 feet from the water has phosphorus levels in runoff at 60 percent higher than properties 100 feet from the water.

The LIC committee voted whether to include the Brown/Jarchow/Nelson amendments in the Zoning Ordinance draft going out for public hearings. The vote was 3 no, 2 yes to include them. The zoning ordinance will not be presented with the Brown/Jarchow/Nelson amendments, but at Brown’s insistence the committee agreed to provide them for the public in a document separate from the CAC draft. Amendments proposed by Marilynn Nehren will also be included in that document. Nehren’s amendments include the establishment of mandatory vegetative buffer zones on all riparian properties, and mandatory inspection and approval of septic systems before title of any riparian parcel is transferred through sale or acquisition.

The CAC draft ordinance and amendments will be posted here when available. Here is the CAC draft ordinance with Brown/Jarchow/Nelson proposed amendments highlighted with annotations by Jeremy Williamson.

Public hearings on the ordinance have not yet been scheduled; PCALR News will be sending that information when it’s available. The next Land Information Department meeting will be held on January 22, Polk County Government Center, 8:30 a.m.