Minnesota Environmental Quality Board Amendments To Environmental Review Rules

Author:Mr Walter Rockenstein, II and Elizabeth Hendricks Schmiesing
Profession:Faegre & Benson LLP

New amendments to the Minnesota Environmental Review Rules alter thresholds for preparation of environmental reviews for projects in shoreland areas. The amendments also identify "cumulative potential effects" that must be addressed during environmental reviews and change the process for preparing alternative urban areawide reviews.

Promulgated by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, the amendments became effective on November 23, 2009. As a result, more development projects, especially those in shoreland areas, will be required to undergo environmental review—and the complexity and costs of all reviews will increase.

New Thresholds Will Trigger More EAWs and EISs

New thresholds for the preparation of environmental assessment worksheets (EAWs) and environmental impact statements (EISs) affect residential projects outside the seven-county metropolitan area in shoreland areas and for nonmetallic mineral mining, resort, campground, RV park, and land conversion projects in shorelands statewide. This means EAWs may be required now for projects that exceed the following thresholds depending on conditions specific to the project:

Residential, resort, campground, and RV park projects with as few as 15 units or sites Nonmetallic mineral mining projects affecting as few as 20 acres Land conversions (for example, golf course development) affecting as little as 800 feet of shoreline or 5,000 square feet of shoreland area Higher thresholds were set for preparation of EISs.

New Definition of Cumulative Impacts Will Increase Complexity and Costs of EAWs and EISs

In response to a 2006 Minnesota Supreme Court decision, the amendments add...

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