We are disappointed that the DNR did not pay attention to the river’s economic value and we have strong concerns that these new rules will have a negative effect on development, redevelopment, and future investment in the East Metro. We should be promoting economic growth, not placing new restrictions on property development and redevelopment, especially expansion.
The MRCCA is comprised of 72 miles of river (29 of which are in Saint Paul) and 54,000 acres of surrounding land in 30 governmental subdivisions. The MRCCA is currently regulated by local governments through the MRCCA guidelines. In directing the DNR to create rules for the MRCCA, the state legislature was clear that the DNR needed to factor in the importance of development and redevelopment along the river.
Read more about SPACC’s concerns with the rules in our 2014 letter to the DNR and 2016 letter to the Administrative Law Judge.
The judge’s disapproval of the cost determination triggered a mechanism in state law for small businesses and small cities to opt out of the new rules temporarily, until they are approved by law. (Minnesota Statute 14.127 Subd. 4(e)). However, Governor Dayton waived application of that law, removing the ability of small businesses and small cities to opt out temporarily.
In addition, there is confusion about when businesses must abide by the new rules. The rules are “effective” as of today (five working days after their publication), but local governments need to update their existing rules, and the existing rules are in effect until each local government does that. In addition, the state legislature needs to pass a law approving the new rules. We are currently working with the DNR to determine when businesses are subject to the new rules. We anticipate the new rules being fully implemented in 5-10 years.
We greatly appreciate the DNR’s process in creating the new rules. DNR staff have been available for questions and have asked for feedback on rules through the stages of their creation, and we thank them. We expect that DNR staff will continue to be available as businesses in the MRCCA navigate the new rules.