The federal Mississippi National River and Recreation Area established pursuant to United States Code, title 16, section 460zz-2(k), is designated an area of critical concern in accordance with this chapter. The purpose of the designation is to:
(1) protect and preserve the Mississippi River and adjacent lands that the legislature finds to be unique and valuable state and regional resources for the benefit of the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the state, region, and nation;
(2) prevent and mitigate irreversible damages to these state, regional, and natural resources;
(3) preserve and enhance the natural, aesthetic, cultural, and historical values of the Mississippi River and adjacent lands for public use and benefit;
(4) protect and preserve the Mississippi River as an essential element in the national, state, and regional transportation, sewer and water, and recreational systems; and
(5) protect and preserve the biological and ecological functions of the Mississippi River corridor.
(a) The commissioner of natural resources, after consultation with affected local units of government within the Mississippi River corridor critical area, may adopt rules under chapter 14 as are necessary for the administration of the Mississippi River corridor critical area program. Duties of the Environmental Quality Council or the Environmental Quality Board referenced in this chapter, related rules, and the governor's Executive Order No. 79-19, published in the State Register on March 12, 1979, that are related to the Mississippi River corridor critical area shall be the duties of the commissioner. All rules adopted by the board pursuant to these duties remain in effect and shall be enforced until amended or repealed by the commissioner in accordance with law. The commissioner shall work in consultation with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, the Metropolitan Council, other agencies, and local units of government to ensure that the Mississippi River corridor critical area is managed as a multipurpose resource in a way that:
(1) conserves the scenic, environmental, recreational, mineral, economic, cultural, and historic resources and functions of the river corridor;
(2) maintains the river channel for transportation by providing and maintaining barging and fleeting areas in appropriate locations consistent with the character of the Mississippi River and riverfront;
(3) provides for the continuation, development, and redevelopment of a variety of urban uses, including industrial and commercial uses, and recreational and residential uses, where appropriate, within the Mississippi River corridor;
(4) utilizes certain reaches of the river as a source of water supply and as a receiving water for properly treated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste effluents; and
(5) protects and preserves the biological and ecological functions of the corridor.
(b) The Metropolitan Council shall incorporate the standards developed under this section into its planning and shall work with local units of government and the commissioner to ensure the standards are being adopted and implemented appropriately.
The commissioner shall establish, by rule, districts within the Mississippi River corridor critical area. The commissioner must seek to determine an appropriate number of districts within any one municipality and take into account municipal plans and policies, and existing ordinances and conditions. The commissioner shall consider the following when establishing the districts:
(1) the protection of improvements such as parks, trails, natural areas, recreational areas, and interpretive centers;
(2) the use of the Mississippi River as a source of drinking water;
(3) the protection of resources identified in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Comprehensive Management Plan;
(4) the protection of resources identified in comprehensive plans developed by counties, cities, and towns within the Mississippi River corridor critical area;
(5) management of the river corridor consistent with its natural characteristics and its existing development and in consideration of potential new commercial, industrial, and residential development; and
(6) identified scenic, geologic, and ecological resources.
(a) The commissioner shall establish, by rule, minimum guidelines and standards for the districts established in subdivision 3. The guidelines and standards for each district shall include the intent of each district and key resources and features to be protected or enhanced based upon paragraph (b). The commissioner must take into account municipal plans and policies, and existing ordinances and conditions when developing the guidelines in this section. The commissioner may provide certain exceptions and criteria for standards, including, but not limited to, exceptions for river access facilities, water supply facilities, storm water facilities, and wastewater treatment facilities, and hydropower facilities.
(b) The guidelines and standards must protect or enhance the following key resources and features:
(4) areas of confluence with key tributaries;
(5) natural drainage routes;
(6) shorelines and riverbanks;
(8) steep slopes and very steep slopes;
(9) unstable soils and bedrock;
(10) significant existing vegetative stands, tree canopies, and native plant communities;
(11) scenic views and vistas;
(12) publicly owned parks, trails, and open spaces;
(13) cultural and historic sites and structures;
(14) water quality; and
(15) commercial, industrial, and residential resources.
The standards established under this section shall be used:
(1) by local units of government when preparing or updating plans or modifying regulations;
(2) by state and regional agencies for permit regulation and in developing plans within their jurisdiction;
(3) by the Metropolitan Council for reviewing plans and regulations; and
(4) by the commissioner when approving plans and regulations, and reviewing development permit applications.
A local unit of government or a regional or state agency shall notify the commissioner of natural resources of all developments in the corridor that require discretionary actions under their rules at least ten days before taking final action on the application. The commissioner may establish exemptions from the notification requirement for certain types of applications. For purposes of this section, a discretionary action includes all actions that require a public hearing, including variances, conditional use permits, and zoning amendments.
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