Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting It Right for Lakeshore Visitors and Residents

On August 11, 2010, Governor Tim Pawlenty exhibited a welcome combination of common sense and governmental action. The governor returned proposed regulations on private structures in public waters and on shoreline management to DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten “directing the DNR to further engage interested stakeholders, and especially the Legislature, in a fresh approach that will better conserve and manage Minnesota’s most important natural resource”, its lakes.

Governor Pawlenty made it clear in his August 11th correspondence that had the rules progressed and come to his desk in their present form, he would have vetoed them. The governor’s action represents a tremendous victory for P.O.P.U.L.A.R., which has been steadfast in its efforts to limit the application of new rules on private structures and to account for the differences in lake configurations, both natural and artificially induced. Recognizing and responding to P.O.P.U.L.A.R.’s efforts, Governor Pawlenty pointed out to Commissioner Holsten:
I recognize the need to improve our state’s shoreline practices and limit excessive intrusion of public waterways by private structures. However, the rules you forwarded to me regarding these issues do not strike a proper balance between protection of our lakes and waterways and the equally important right of our citizens to enjoy them and their property.
The governor recommended that the DNR consider statutory enactment achieved through cooperation with the 2011 Legislature, whose members are more accountable to the public than DNR bureaucrats (my word, not his), rather than rushing into new rule-making as the issues are revisited.

As a result of Governor Pawlenty’s actions, it does not appear that any significant action on the issue of private structures or shoreline management will take place until a new governor, and new DNR commissioner, are in place. While we cannot be sure of timing, we can be sure that special interests determined to impose their concept of pristine lake experiences on the entire State of Minnesota will demand that the regulations be revisited.

Recall that the proposed regulations on private structures went well beyond the debate over dock platform size that spawned the legislative directive in the first place. P.O.P.U.L.A.R.’s greatest challenge may be to publicize this fact in order to avoid the imposition of significantly more restrictive regulations or statutes addressing all elements of private structure use, including onerous limitations on the amount of dockage and number of watercraft lakeshore property owners will be allowed to maintain.

The governor’s rejection of the shoreline management regulations provides P.O.P.U.L.A.R. with another opportunity. Until now, P.O.P.U.L.A.R. has not involved itself in the shoreline management debate. This results primarily from the fact that the review of shoreline management regulations had been going on for nearly a year prior to the commencement of P.O.P.U.L.A.R.’s efforts in response to proposed restrictions on the size of dock platforms.
Since both issues are back on the drawing board, it may make sense for P.O.P.U.L.A.R. to work to organize public awareness of all efforts to restrict lakeshore property owners’ use and enjoyment of their shoreline.

To this point, P.O.P.U.L.A.R. members have done an excellent job of making their positions known to the DNR and to state and local government officials. As we move forward, it will take persistent communication to elected representatives to keep the pressure up and, particularly, extend our reach to the shoreline management issue.
We can start by demanding that candidates for public office disclose their position on the private structures and shoreline management issues. While it may be fair to assume that Tom Emmer is least likely among major party candidates to allow new restrictions on lakeshore property owners’ rights, P.O.P.U.L.A.R. members should not refrain from putting the question to Messrs. Emmer, Horner and Dayton.

We have been taking a low key approach to the issue while the governor’s action was pending as P.O.P.U.L.A.R. did not want to politicize the matter while Governor Pawlenty reviewed the proposed regulations in a thoughtful, reasoned manner. Now that matters are in a state of flux again, we will provide P.O.P.U.L.A.R. members with regular updates on the status of the effort to impose new restrictions.

Please contact the gubernatorial candidates at the addresses shown below and ask them to answer the following questions:
1. Do you agree that any new regulations governing lakeshore stewardship and the enjoyment of docks, boatlifts and platforms should allow previously lawful uses to be retained and passed on (i.e., grandfathered)?

2. Do you agree with Governor Pawlenty’s assessment that any modification to existing regulations should avoid “imposing a one-size-fits-all standard when lakeshore circumstances vary so widely”?

3. Do you believe that lakeshore owners, who have made a significant financial and emotional commitment to their property, are the best stewards of the lakes they reside on and should be given considerable deference in the adoption of any new regulations?

4. Do you agree that it makes no sense to regulate shoreline management without addressing the problems of waste treatment and farm runoff that introduce significant pollutants into our waters?

5. Do you agree that imposing statewide onerous restrictions on private structures in response to reports of a handful of illegal, oversized structures is not appropriate?

Our experience has proven that a large influx of correspondence from P.O.P.U.L.A.R. members sends a signal to the recipients that these are issues of major concern to a large number of constituents who represent a broad demographic. Taking a couple of minutes to call the question as we approach the November election will keep the pressure on. Be sure to copy P.O.P.U.L.A.R. on your letters and any responses. We will post responses online for all to review.

Unfortunately, for P.O.P.U.L.A.R. to continue to successfully lobby on behalf of lakeshore property owners, it is imperative that funds be raised to cover the costs involved. A number of members have already contributed generously, assuring our place at the table and making it possible to prevent railroading by the DNR and supportive special interests. Without ongoing pressure, lakeshore property owners face a potentially different outcome under the next administration.

Please make a secure contribution to the work of P.O.P.U.L.A.R. using the "Donate" link to PayPal at the top of this blog. If every reader of this blog donated $25, we would be sufficiently funded for the next lobbying campaign. If you do not wish to use PayPal, you may send checks made payable to P.O.P.U.L.A.R. to 247 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415-1003.

Finally, please use the comment section of the blog, or send an e-mail to protectlakes@gmail.com, to express your preferences with respect to involving P.O.P.U.L.A.R. in the shoreline management debate.

Thank you for your support. Here are the mailing and e-mail addresses for the campaigns of the three major gubernatorial candidates:

Mark Dayton for a Better Minnesota
800 Minnehaha Avenue East, Suite 201
St. Paul, MN 55106

Tom Emmer for Governor
P.O. Box 14269
Saint Paul, MN 55114
go to link at www.emmerforgovernor.com/connect/contact

Horner 2010
10760 Highway 55
Plymouth, MN 55441

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I emailed all three on Sept. 16th, and have not heard back from any of them as of Sept. 30th.