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Crow Wing County’s waters are truly our most precious natural resources. Lakes, streams and rivers play a central role in making this area a desirable place to live. And safeguarding those waters, which belong to all Minnesotans and not just those who live on lakes, is a proper concern for our elected representatives.

On Tuesday, revisions to the county zoning ordinances will be considered by the county board and that issue will likely be among the most important this board will face this year.

Obviously government must tread lightly and with sensitivity on any issue that affects individuals’ property rights. Similarly, the zoning revisions could affect economic development. Care must be taken to avoid unreasonable restrictions on parties that want to build in this county.

We’re not experts in engineering or the environment so we won’t address  what should be the specific allowable percentage of impervious surface in the shoreland zone. Impervious surfaces refer to paving, rooftops and decks. It’s clear an excessive amount of impervious surface near a lake can cause run-off and degrade the water quality.  

The requirement of a shoreland buffer of 10 feet for a no-mow zone makes sense to us. This is a widely accepted practice that reduces erosion and lowers the impact of phosphorous on the lakes.

The Crow Wing County Planning Commission, realizing the intense amount of public interest in this issue, extended its comment period. We would advise the Crow Wing County Board that if it needs to take extra time to hear more comments from the public it should do so.

This is a critical decision. Board members are entrusted to consider the rights of property owners while making sure the water quality of our lakes is not degraded for future generations.