UPDATE MARCH 22, 2011 to article below by Tom Watson: Crow Wing County Commissioners passed the new land use ordinance and it is now in effect.
Proposed Crow Wing County Land Use Ordinance Amendments Needed
by Tom Watson, WAPOA
Much attention has been given to the proposed amendments to the present Crow Wing County zoning ordinances
We applaud Crow Wing County for the commitment to review the land use activity within the unorganized areas of the county (primarily townships), to review the impacts and effects of recent land use decisions and activities, and to recommend changes to the present land use ordinances.
The proposed changes extend beyond zoning matters and consider the total land use decisions of property owners and the state and local government regulatory agencies.
First, the unequivocal evidence shows that Minnesotans have not been the best stewards of our natural resources in this state and the Crow Wing County area in particular.
Water quality has deteriorated as a result of human decisions and activity, invasive plant, animal and diseases introduced by human activity, and the increased human demand on our lands and waters.
The trends over the past twenty years on the greater Whitefish Lakes area and a majority of the fourteen lakes comprising the Whitefish Chain, like several of the other watershed areas within the County, are going in the wrong direction.
The available research and annual testing substantiates the decreasing water clarity and transparency, challenging issues with phosphorus and chlorophyll, and the consequences of human decisions. Yet the quality of the Whitefish Chain remains high.
The property owners and units of government have a challenge to sustain the quality and make improvements in areas where there is real deterioration.
Second, water is a significant natural resource and asset in Crow Wing County with fourteen (14) percent of the surface area being lakes, rivers and streams, and another fourteen (14) percent being wetlands. With a combined twenty-eight (28) percent of the county being a water natural resource, the importance of managing these important natural resource assets for recreation, economic value, employment, and responsible use is obvious.
Third, sustaining the quality of the area will require the best interests of all of us, working together with a “shared” vision for the area, while realizing the benefits of strong property values, recreation, economic opportunity, and natural resources.
Managing water quality, both ground and surface water, requires attention to a number of details ranging from (1) land development decisions, (2) land use decisions that affect stormwater runoff into lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, (3) managing individual septic treatment systems, and (4) eliminating the human movement of invasive plants, animals and diseases to our lakes.
By 2030, the county population is projected to increase significantly, which will add to the demand on our water resources.
There are many outstanding additions among the Crow Wing County (CWC) proposed amendments to the present Zoning Ordinance.
A major change is the recognition that the ordinances address all forms of land use and not only zoning. Changing the name of the ordinances to Land Use Ordinances offers a much clearer focus.
Supported by scientific research and best practices, Crow Wing County has proposed changes for more effective shoreland, stormwater, and conservation management that address the “balance” of the property owner rights, managing our natural resources, and sustaining a strong, viable regional area economy.
We agree with many of the submitted comments and suggestions that certain proposed changes need more work and study.
The proposed changes on the whole do not “threaten property values” for property owners as suggested by a recent realtor editorial, unless CWC were not to approve many of the amendments.
What will “threaten property values” will be the impact of poor human decisions and actions that continue the adverse effect on water quality in the over 200,000 acres of water in Crow Wing County.
The Whitefish Area Property Owners Association (WAPOA) will continue to work with CWC to achieve the best “balance” in our land use ordinances and be the best environmental stewards we can be.
We encourage all property owners to join us.
By Tom Watson, Whitefish Area Property Owners Association (WAPOA) Director – Land Use
The Whitefish Area Property Owners Association (WAPOA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a long history of serving the interests of property owners about the area of the Whitefish Lakes Area, consistent with our Mission Statement:
WAPOA MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association is to promote environmental stewardship through out the Whitefish area and the Pine River Watershed.
The membership shall work with area environmental groups, lake and resort associations, agencies and units of local government to preserve and improve the quality of our water, land, air, aesthetics, wildlife and other natural resources for present and future generations.