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“The DNR has made pretty much all the changes the cities wanted,” said Whitney Clark, executive director of Friends of the Mississippi, which has 1,700 members. “When regulated parties [cities] are writing the rules, that’s unfortunate … For the state to abdicate their responsibilities for scenic protections is unacceptable.”
“The environmental community is pretty united on this,” Clark said. “Many organizations are concerned.”
Landwehr maintained that the draft rules on scenic vistas are improved. He said the existing regulations set a subjective standard for vistas that is hard to enforce. The revised rules would provide more objective criteria by asking cities to identify scenic vistas using National Park Service protocols.
“We think this is a good way to identify what constitutes a scenic vista,” Landwehr said. “We are absolutely committed to protecting the [river] resources and the best way to do that is having rules in place that cities can implement.”
Clark countered that while the revised rules encourage cities to identify scenic vistas, they don’t require protection of the vistas. He said the proposed rules also have “flexibility provisions” that permit a city to adopt an ordinance that doesn’t comply with the rules if they obtain written approval from the DNR commissioner.
The DNR will respond to public comments, make changes to the revised rules as needed, and send them to an administrative law judge. The judge will review public comments and the proposed rules and make a final recommendation to the DNR and governor. If Dayton approves, the rules would become law next year.
Jim Adams • 612-673-7658