The city of Lake St. Croix Beach is working on new permit applications to allow docks in the Lower St. Croix. The city currently issues 35 permits each year for private citizens to install docks on public shorelines.
The city does this under permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. But the Pioneer Press recently reported that many docks currently in use are wider than allowed by the federal permit first issued 40 years ago.
Resident Chris Smith said he brought the issue to the attention of the Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources after serving on the city’s parks commission and realizing the docks, covered by the city’s current Corps permit issued in 1983, violate the permit’s provisions.
City Administrator Dave Engstrom said the city completed its new permit application last month.
“I didn’t realize there was an issue, and I don’t think anybody else did,” Engstrom said. “The DNR has been out here many times, as has the Corps, and looked at our levy, and the docks are right there, and nothing was ever said in 40 years. … When it came to their attention, we immediately started to work on getting this resolved.”– Lake St. Croix Beach: Complaint over oversized docks leads to permit review
Many of the docks used in Lake St. Croix Beach are now 10 feet wide. But the city’s permit is restricted to allowing six-foot wide docks. Additionally, docks are not allowed to stick out more than 50 feet from shore, and some of the docks currently in use are longer than that.
The city says the larger docks are allowed for safety purposes. The shoreline is exposed to significant wind, and wakes from heavy boat traffic. The Army Corps says it will take that into consideration while reviewing the new permit application from the city.
“We can have south and north winds that can create huge waves, and the fetch is very long, about two miles in each direction,” Lake St. Croix Beach resident and boater Linda O’Donnell told the Pioneer Press. “That creates huge waves that will flip docks over or have them move around. In our city, we were finding with narrow docks, we’d have them break apart, and there would be debris on the beach after a big storm.”
The Army Corps permit also restricts the city to issuing 35 permits for docks and mooring buoys. But the city “grandfathered in” another 13 docks and two buoys which existed before the Corps permit, which Smith says should actually be counted toward its total. He points out that there are endangered mussels, fish, and insects in the area, and additional mooring structures can destroy their habitat.