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The Property Owner’s

Resource Guide
A place in Lake County

A Reference Guide to the
Lake County Land Use Ordinance
(See Official Ordinance for specific details on land use in Lake County)

Planning & Zoning Department,
Lake County Courthouse,Two Harbors, MN

Revised May 2005

* Developed and Funded by the Lake County
Local Water Management Plan
What You Need to Know as
Contents a Lake County Landowner
Lake County Land Use Ethic 3
Information & Who to Contact
(218 area code)
Knowing Your Responsibilities 4
Driveway Access Permits Well drillers
Purchasing Property 5 Permits are required before installing a • Look under “Well Drilling and Services”
culvert or constructing an access driveway off in the Yellow Pages.
Building a Home 6 of township, county or state roads.
• Lake County Highway ................ 834-8380 Solid Waste Management
• MN DOT .................... 723-4960 ext.3542 Household garbage, demolition material,
Water Supply 7
• Silver Creek TWSP .................... 834-5255 household hazardous waste, recycling
• Beaver Bay TWSP ........................ 226-3669 • Solid Waste Officer .................... 834-8304
Individual Sewage Treatment 8 • Crystal Bay TWSP ...................... 353-7563
Systems (ISTS) • Fall Lake TWSP ............................ 365-4582
Surface Water Use
• Stony River TWSP ...................... 323-7743
Water use permits are required before
Protecting Wetlands 10 • U.T. #1 & U.T. #2 ........................ 834-8380
diverting, withdrawing, impounding, or
distributing any surface water.
Shoreland 12 Land Use Permits • Minnesota Department of Natural
Before building a road or building on land in Resources ...................................... 834-6623
the county, contact the Lake County Planning
Fire Safety 13 & Zoning Department to obtain zoning
Water Quality Protection
requirements and information. If located within
Livestock manure, pesticides, sediment, and
Lake County Facts 14 the city limits of Silver Bay,Two Harbors, or
other pollutants should be prevented from
Beaver Bay, contact the City Clerk.
reaching surface water or groundwater. Water
Keeping Records 15 • Lake County Planning &
quality testing services, pollutants, and spills.
Zoning Department .................... 834-8327
• Lake County Health Department
• City of Silver Bay ........................ 226-4408
Map/Emergency .......................................................... 834-8400
• City of Two Harbors .................. 834-5631
Phone Numbers BC • Lake County SWCD .................. 834-8370
• City of Beaver Bay ...................... 226-3251
• Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
• Silver Creek Township................ 834-5255
.......................................................... 723-4660

Sewage Treatment Systems
State law regulates sewage treatment system
The Lake County Land Use Office regulates
installation, including separation distance from
activities in wetlands and permits are required.
wells, buildings, and property lines. Lake
• Lake County Planning & Zoning
County has additional restrictions.
Developed and funded by: • Lake County Planning &
.......................................................... 834-8327
Lake County Local Water Zoning Department .................... 834-8327
Management Plan
DNR Protected Waters Permits/
With assistance from: Coordinate utilities installation
Stream and Lakeshore Projects
Lake County Planning & Zoning • Cooperative Light and Power Association
Permits are needed for docks, culverts, beach
Department ........................ 834-2226 or 800-580-5881
development, stream/lakeshore stabilization,
Lake County Soil & Water • North Country Power (Fall Lake)
and stream crossings.
Conservation District .......................................................... 741-8137
• Minnesota Department of Natural
University of Minnesota Extension • Local Phone Company
Resources ...................................... 834-6623
Service • Before digging call Gopher ONE
................................................ 800-252-1166
This project was funded in part by Drinking Water Wells
the Coastal Zone Management Act, All wells must be registered with the State of
Fire Protection/Burning Permits
by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Minnesota.Well driller should take care of reg-
• Minnesota Department of Natural
Coastal Resource Management, in istration.
Resources ...................................... 834-6620
conjunction with Minnesota’s Lake • Water Quality—Lake County Health
Superior Coastal Program. Department .................................. 834-8400
• Minnesota Department of Health, Property Assessments
Writing and production: Well Management Unit Homestead classification, estimated values
Kathleen Preece,Write it Right, ......................................................723-4653 • Lake County Assessor................ 834-8310
Bemidji, MN

© 2002 by Lake County
Lake County Land Use Ethic
in Lake County

Lake County is blessed with an The Ordinance
abundance of natural resources. Within divides the county into land use districts,
its boundary are beautiful lakes and within which the county regulates the Why Lake County?
streams, vast forest lands, and a wide use of the land and placement of
variety of wildlife. structures. • Space, privacy, and quiet?
The county borders Ultimately, it is
on Lake Superior, expected that the
• Aesthetic beauty of the
the largest
Lake County honors guidance provided
Arrowhead Region?
freshwater lake in its past, but looks to the by the Ordinance
• Clean air and water?
the world and future by accommodating for these districts
includes part of the will encourage the • A healthy environment?
pristine Boundary a diversity of lifestyles most appropriate
Waters Canoe Area and economic bases, use of the land, • Establish a location for a
Wilderness. respect for permanent home?
The “Lake
sharing its beauty and economic and
County Land Use accepting its share of natural environ- • Have space for garden,
Ordinance” and responsibility for the mental values, animals, and pets?
“Lake County and recognition of
Comprehensive stewardship of the area. the rights and con- • Other reasons?
Plan” were written cerns of property
to protect these owners and land use Questions’ sections. If all of your
resources and the lifestyle they provide. patterns that evolved prior to the questions are not answered (and we
They are “tools” to sustain and enhance adoption of this Ordinance. don’t expect they will be), contact the
the resources of Lake County, so that We encourage you to read this Lake County Planning & Zoning
its residents and visitors can enjoy the Property Owners Resource Guide, and Department for more assistance and
amenities they expect from this land. check out the ‘Commonly Asked additional resources.

Knowing Your Responsibilities
in Lake County

Land Use Districts development and to minimize conflicts able in the Lake County Planning &
Land use districts were established between uses that are incompatible. Zoning Department located in the
in Lake County in the mid 1970s Although lots as small as one acre courthouse in Two Harbors.
through an elaborate public hearing are allowed along the shores of many
process. These districts were estab- lakes and the edges of cities, the major- Land Use Permits
lished to guide the appropriate use of ity of land in Lake County is zoned for Land use permits are issued for
the land as it relates to the geology, a minimum lot size of 10 acres and 300 activities such as building a home or
soils, waters, vegetation and the people feet in width. other structure, building an addition,
of Lake County. The Land Use Ordinance permits constructing a road, and soil disturbing
Land use districts define how land certain land uses in each district. activities. Individual sewage treatment
may be used, such as: the minimum size Additional uses, called conditional uses, system permits are also required for
of lots, height of structures, setbacks and may be permitted if the use is approved installing a sewage treatment system.
other features. The purpose of land use by a public hearing process.
planning is to provide for orderly Land use district maps are avail-

Are you considering buying/building?
If you are considering buying land, use the Checklist in TRACK I. If you are buying land that has improvements on it
(a house or other structures) use TRACK II also.

TRACK I Checklist for undeveloped land
Is your intended use permitted in the land use district? TRACK II Checklist for developed property

(Hint: Check with the Planning & Zoning Department to find the district Do the improvements meet the minimum requirements of the
and requirements) zoning district?
❑ Yes ❑ No
❑ Yes ❑ No
Do you know where your property lines are?
Does the property have a sewage treatment system Certificate
(Hint: Check with the the Planning & Zoning Department for a list of
of Compliance and evidence of regular cleaning?
(Hint: The seller should be able to provide a Certificate of Compliance and
❑ Yes ❑ No cleaning receipts.)
Is the site appropriate for your intended use? ❑ Yes ❑ No
(Hint: Check on such details as the availability of utilities, legal road Has the property had a Point of Sale sewage treatment system
access, proximity to the water table, and soil type. The basic soil type can
be determined by a licensed sewage treatment system installer.)
inspection and water quality test?

❑ Yes ❑ No ❑ Yes ❑ No

Are there activities present or allowed in the area that may be Do you know the utilities and property tax costs for the prior
undesirable to you? (Consider gravel pits, dog kennels, dusty two years?
roads). ❑ Yes ❑ No
❑ Yes ❑ No Have you met your potential neighbors?
Have you acquired necessary permits before starting your ❑ Yes ❑ No
project?* (Such as constructing an access road, building a
structure, or any soil disturbing activities). *Note: There can be serious consequences for wetland and other soil
disturbances. (Hint: contact the Planning & Zoning Department before
❑ Yes ❑ No altering the property.)

Some commonly Q& Did you know?
asked questions
Q If I have a land use question, what can I bring in
• Land use is regulated through-
out Lake County.
performed by a sewage treat-
ment system contractor licensed
in the State of Minnesota, and
to the Planning & Zoning Department to help get • A permit is required for the
the permit must be obtained
an answer? construction of a building, addi-
jointly by the contractor and
A - Sketch of property tion, or other structure, as well
property owner. Generally, the
- Photos as any soil disturbing activities
first step in lot development is
- Legal description of property such as grading, filling or exca-
to meet with a contractor and
- Sewage treatment system info vation.
arrange for a site evaluation to
- Special features: topography, streams, • Each newly created lot must determine where the sewage
drainageway, bluff, soils have adequate sites for two treatment system will be locat-
sewage treatment systems. ed. A land use permit will not
Q Who handles land use disputes between neighbors? be issued until after the site is
A Generally, legal disputes are civil matters • A permit is required for
determined to have acceptable
between individuals and need to be handled on sewage treatment system instal-
this basis. However, the Planning & Zoning lations and repairs. All installa-
Department can provide assistance on setbacks tion and repair work must be
and other zoning requirements. Property line
disputes may require the use of a registered
land surveyor.

Purchasing Property
in Lake County

Setbacks Utilities and rules if purchasing adjoining prop-
• When buying property, it is • Find out if utilities are available erty. Call the Lake County Planning &
important to be aware of required set- at the site. Zoning Department for a list of local
back distances from roads, lakes, and surveyors.
streams to find a suitable place for the Boundaries
home, driveways and sewage treatment • Know your boundaries! Most of Hidden and ‘Other’ Costs
system. The buyer should contact the the property within the city limits of • Consider some of the “other” and
Planning & Zoning Department Two Harbors and Silver Bay has been sometimes “hidden” costs, such as snow
(218-834-8327) for assistance in this. surveyed. All property in Lake County removal services, the expense of getting
has a legal description, but not all the electricity to your site, and distance to
Wetlands property has been surveyed. Do not schools (bus service is not guaranteed).
• Wetlands are a welcomed amenity rely on the county plat book or USGS The soil type (or lack of soil) can affect
to many properties and perform valuable Quadrangle maps to show property the cost of building a home, as can the
functions. They are also protected from lines. They are only a guide. The topography of the land. Expense may be
alteration or destruction. To help you services of a private surveyor are highly incurred for grading, removing/adding
determine the location of wetlands on recommended to find your property soil, and leveling rock. Remember, if
your property and to minimize wetland boundaries if you are buying a small you are building on rock you probably
impacts, contact the Planning & Zoning lot or planning on building close to a won’t have a basement.
Department. property boundary. Be aware of laws
See Protecting Wetlands page 10.
Building a Home
in Lake County

Jim Balfour
Things to consider . . .
Choosing a location for your home and screening. Ordinance requires that natural buffers be
Whether you are landscaping your • Plan roads and driveways to follow retained within fifty feet of the vegetation
property, building a cabin, or designing contours of the land. line along lakes and streams for water
a resort, each parcel of land has limita- • Note: The Lake County Land Use quality protection and wildlife habitat.
tions for development. These may
include the type of soil, steep slopes,
wetlands, native vegetation, and other
Some commonly asked questions Q&
natural features.
The most important step in getting
started is to draw a detailed map of your
Q Do I need to “tell” anyone I am building
a structure?
A Yes. You must obtain a land use per-
Q Are there limits to the size of my home?
A The maximum height of structures is
35 ft. There are building limitations on
property. Using a topographic map will mit from the Lake County Planning the amount of the lot covered by
help. Note these important features: & Zoning Department. impervious surfaces. Impervious sur-
• sewage treatment sites faces include roofs, driveways, paved
Q How do I know if my land is “build-
• hills and sloping areas areas and gravel roads. The property
• location of roads and driveways must be able to support two on-site
A This is determined by a number of
• potential building sites sewage treatment system sites and the
factors, including how wet the site
• drainage patterns use must be consistent with the uses
is, if your site is on rock, if the
• existing vegetation permitted in your land use district.
land can support a structure and
• wildlife habitat Q Can a business be operated in my
sewage treatment system, and the
• land features such as wetlands home?
minimum lot size. Structures and
and rock outcrops A To establish a business in a residential
roads must also meet required set-
• water wells zone, a conditional use permit may
• underground cables, pipelines, be required. Contact the Planning &
and overhead wires Q Do I need a land use permit to change
Zoning Department for details.
the size and shape of my house, includ-
Other than the building site, ing a deck? Q Do I need to apply for homestead
what about the rest of the land? A Yes. classification on the home I just
• Consider limiting the amount of purchased or built?
Q How far away from a lake or river A If you are a Minnesota resident, own
lawn on your property. Native vegeta- does my structure need to be?
tion will lower maintenance while the property or are related to the
A Required setback distances vary owner, and occupy the property as
enhancing aesthetics and habitat value. depending on the classification of
• Think about ways to landscape your primary place of residence; you
the stream or lake. (See page 8). should apply for homestead classifi-
that can help maintain the quality and
aesthetics of the waters on your land. Q Do I need a Land Use permit to re-side cation. Minnesota state law provides
• Consider retaining and planting or re-roof my house? for a reduction in the property tax
native trees and shrubs that provide A No, not unless you are changing the for homestead property. Contact the
food and shelter for wildlife, buffer size or shape of the building. County Assessor for an application.
harsh winter winds and provide shade

Water Supply
in Lake County

Jim Balfour
The Water Well Water Quality For additional information on the
While the water supplied by a pri- A safe source of water should meet rules and regulations governing a pri-
vate well is not regulated, the design, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vate water well and for information on
location, construction and abandon- (EPA) primary drinking water stan- water treatment options, contact the
ment of the well is regulated by the dards. All private wells should be test- Minnesota Department of Health at
State of Minnesota. A private water ed by a certified, independent laborato- (218) 723-4653.

well must be located and constructed ry and results compared to EPA drink-
to protect it from surface waters and
from seepage from sources of contami-
ing water standards. Two contaminants
of primary concern are coliform bacte-
Check list
nation. (see map on page 8) ria and nitrates. ❑ Is your drinking water well
Contact the Lake County Health located at least 100 feet from
Water Quantity Department at 834-8400 for a water your sewage treatment system?
The average person uses approxi- testing kit and instructions.
mately 75 gallons of water per day. Unfortunately, there are many ❑ Do water tests confirm there is
Water use does not occur evenly over areas along Lake Superior that have no coliform bacteria or nitrate
the course of a day and water systems high levels of salt in their water. contamination?
must often meet the needs of many To safely use this water requires
uses during short periods of time. additional treatment. ❑ Is the well constructed by state
These times, called “peak use periods” licensed well driller?
usually last from 30 minutes to two
hours and usually occur near meal-
times, laundry periods, and before bed-
A water system must be able to Some commonly asked questions
meet both total gallons per day and
peak use demands. The water system
flow rate is the quantity of water deliv-
Q Do I need to “tell” anyone I am
constructing a well?
Q I want the water in my well tested.
Who can do this for me?
ered in gallons per minute. The flow A Yes, Contact the Minnesota A Water testing kits and further
rate should at least equal the peak use Department of Health, Well information are available from the
rate (the greatest water demand likely Management Unit at Lake County Health Department
to occur at one time), and should be (218) 723-4653 for a free permit. located in Two Harbors. For addi-
capable of maintaining this rate contin- Wells must be properly located tional information on water quality
uously for one to two hours. (setbacks from sewage treatment contact the Water Resources
Note that a bedrock aquifer, as systems and structures) and Center at the University of
found in many areas in Lake County, installed by licensed well drillers. Minnesota www.extension.umn.
often results in low water yields. edu/water/index.html

Individual Sewage Treatment Systems (ISTS)
Most town and city dwellers rely on a public waste water
in Lake County
treatment system for sewage management. While public waste
water treatment systems may be available to some rural
dwellers, most rely on private individual sewage treatment
systems (ISTS).
The design and installation of ISTS is regulated by State
Rules and permitted through the Lake County Planning &
Zoning Department. ISTS must be installed by State licensed
contractors. A list of contractors can be obtained at the Planning
& Zoning Department.

Maintenance and Care
1. Good vegetative cover should be maintained over the bles, meat, fat, oil, coffee grounds and other undigested food
soil treatment system, however, do not plant trees or shrubs products in the sewage treatment system.
because the roots may clog the distribution lines. 9. The septic tank MUST be periodically cleaned
2. Do not drive over the soil treatment system and (pumped) every 2-3 years to remove floating scum and
maintain snow cover in the winter to prevent the area from sludge that accumulate. If this material is allowed to enter
freezing. the soil treatment system (mound or trench) it will cause
3. Use water-conserving fixtures like low-flow shower- expensive and often irreparable damage.
heads and toilets. 10. Route roof drains and drain tile away from the drain-
4. Distribute wash loads evenly throughout the week to field.
avoid overloading the system with large amounts of water. 11. Do not dispose of solvents, paints, antifreeze, and
5. Wash only full loads in the dishwasher and washing chemicals down the drain.
machine. Consider a front-loading washing machine because 12. DO NOT USE starters, feeders, cleaners and other
they use less water. additives. There is no quick fix or substitute for proper oper-
6. Use liquid detergents (powdered detergents add fine ation and regular maintenance.
particles that may clog the soil treatment system). For additional information on sewage treatment
7. Reduce the use of harsh cleaners and antibacterial systems contact the University of Minnesota
8. Do not use a garbage disposal or dispose of vegeta-

Do You Know . . .
Septic System Setback Requirements
Buildings Road Right of Way
• 10 feet from septic tank • 10 Feet from any component of the
• 20 feet from treatment area septic system.
Shoreland Well Trench System
• 50, 75, 100, 150 feet from the vegeta- • 100 feet from the treatment area if
tion line, depending upon DNR pro- well has less than 50 feet of casing
tected waters classification, from any and does not encounter
component of the sewage treatment 10 feet of impervious material.
system. For Lake Superior - 50 feet.
• 50 feet from the treatment area if
Property Line well has more than 50 feet of casing
• 10 feet from any component of the or encounters 10 feet of impervious
septic system. material.

Natural Environment 150 150 Remote 200 150
Recreational Development 100 75 Forested and Transition 150 100
General Development 75 50 Tributary 100 75
Lake Superior 40 50 x = setback from lake depends on classification of lake.

Some commonly asked questions Q&
Q Can I install my own sewage treatment system? Do I even have
to have a sewage treatment system?
A You cannot install your own sewage treatment system.
tell me what I need? A
Q Why isn’t Lake County like other counties who come out and

A Most licensed installers have received additional training in
Only licensed installers may. You are required to have a assessing soil and land layout so they can determine the
sewage treatment system if any structure has plumbing. If type of system needed. Lake County conducts inspections,
your structure does not have plumbing, an outhouse is but does not feel it is appropriate to tell professional
acceptable. licensed contractors how to conduct their work, as long as
they follow construction standards.
Q What permits are needed to install a sewage treatment system;
who do I contact? Q How is the type of system needed on my property determined?
A An application is jointly submitted by the licensed installer A The type of system is determined by soil texture, depth to
and the homeowner to the Planning & Zoning Department. water table, proximity to surface waters, and the number of
people it is intended to serve. Because of high ground water
Q What is a Certificate of Compliance?
table and heavy clay soils, 80 percent of Lake County’s sep-
A A Certificate of Compliance shows that at the time of
tic systems are mound systems.
inspection, the sewage treatment system was installed
properly. It is issued after a new system has been properly Q How do I know if the sewage treatment system now existing on
installed. Currently, a Certificate of Compliance needs to my property works? Who is responsible for checking it?
be obtained only once during the life of the sewage A Most systems in Lake County are mound systems. Signs of
treatment system. mound system failures include: wet areas around the edge
of the mound; cattails or other wetland vegetation; and/or
Q Do I need a sewage treatment system certificate if I am just
black areas around the edge of the mound. Trench systems
going to build a shed?
in failure reveal ponding or leakage to a low spot. If buying
A Yes, you must have a sewage treatment system Certificate
property, even with a Certificate of Compliance, it is wise
of Compliance or complete a Certificate of Exemption to
to hire a sewage treatment system inspector to conduct a
receive a land use permit.
Point of Sale inspection.
Q Why?
Q I want to sell my home. The buyer wants a Point-of-Sale
A The Lake County Board believes that public health should
inspection of my sewage treatment system. Who do I contact to
be the first area of improvement.
do this?
Q Who tells me what type of system I need? A A state-licensed sewage treatment system Inspector or
A The licensed ISTS designer can make this determination Designer I should be contacted. A list can be obtained from
based on soil and site conditions, and specific needs of the the Lake County Planning & Zoning Department, or
owner. downloaded from
registration.html. The party requesting the Point of Sale
inspection generally pays for it.

Protecting your sewage treatment system
from freezing:
During winters with a lack of snow cover and cold temperatures, sewage treatment systems
can freeze. This can be not only a tremendous inconvenience, but can result in expensive
repairs. To help prevent your system from freezing, follow these general guidelines:

1. Add a layer of hay or straw mulch (8-12 inches) over the pipes, tank, and soil treatment

2. Use normal amounts of water, the warmer the better.

3. Fix any leaky plumbing and DO NOT add antifreeze to the system.

4. Keep all types of vehicles – including ATV’s and snowmobiles – off of the septic system.

5. Make sure all risers, inspection pipes and manholes have covers. Adding insulation over
pipes and over the septic tank is also a good idea.

6. Let the grass in your lawn grow higher in the late summer and early fall over the soil
treatment area to act as a snow catch and provide better insulation.

7. If you’ll be gone for an extended time, consider having someone visit and use water

Protecting Wetlands
in Lake County
Wetlands are very common in Road Building
Lake County and most contractors are If you and/or your contractor plan Lake County still has over 98 percent
trained to recognize wetlands. to construct an access or driveway, of its pre-settlement wetlands and
Personnel from the Planning & Zoning remember that a permit from the supports their protection.
Department or Soil and Water Planning & Zoning Department or
Conservation District can also assist in access permit from the appropriate
determining if a wetland exists on road authority may also be required.
The permitting process will also review TECHNICAL DEFINITION
your property.
Wetlands are areas that are consis- any potential wetland impacts.
Wetlands are “areas that are
tently wet enough to support water-lov- Following are a few suggestions that inundated or saturated by surface or
ing plants. They are determined by the will save time, money, and avoid com- ground water at a frequency and
soil, vegetation, and water conditions. pliance problems. duration sufficient to support, and
Some wetland types have open water;
• The absence of cattails, water that under normal circumstances do
most do not. Wetland functions depend
lilies, or even standing water does not support, a prevalence of vegetation
on the characteristics of the particular
guarantee you won’t be working in a typically adapted for life in saturat-
wetland. Wetlands can improve water
wetland. In fact, some wetland types ed soil conditions.”
quality, recharge groundwater, store
water, and provide wildlife habitat. hold surface water only a few weeks a
Despite their benefits, wetlands year.
have sometimes been considered a • A common misconception is that
nuisance and have been drained or seasonal rains increase and droughts
filled for development or agricultural reduce wetland size when, in fact, the
production. true relationship is between the soil,
the water table interacting with that
Wetland Management soil, and those plants adapted to wet
When you submit a land use per- soil conditions.
mit to Lake County, the application • If the work site includes tag alder,
must address wetlands, waters, and veg- black spruce, willow, tamarack, white
etation management AND provide evi- cedar, or black ash, chances are the
dence that the activity you are propos- site is a wetland. If you are in doubt,
ing conforms to the standards of the contact the Planning & Zoning
Lake County Land Use Ordinance. Department or the Soil and Water
If you anticipate any wetland Conservation District (834-8370).
disturbance, contact the Lake County
Planning & Zoning Department for
specific regulations

For your
information . . .
Wetlands perform important
functions.These functions include:

• Fisheries Habitat
• Wildlife Habitat
• Shoreland Protection
• Groundwater Protection
• Stormwater Protection
• Public Recreation
• Floral Diversity/Plant
• Groundwater Recharge

Some commonly asked questions
Q Are there different types of wetlands? A
A Yes. Wetland classes described by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are
used to evaluate wetlands in Lake County. They are listed as “wetland
types;” we classify eight different types. The differences between these
What can you do?
types are the variations of water conditions, kinds of plants, and soil
Q When does a landowner need a permit to fill a wetland? • Don’t fill or alter wetlands even
A Always. In some cases, the permitting process can take a long time if if they are only wet during the
state and federal permits are needed. Plan ahead. spring.
Q Is the county the only governmental entity regulating activities around wet- • Consider restoring previously
lands? drained or filled wetlands.
A No, both federal and state agencies may require permits.
• Avoid contamination of the
Q Do I need a permit to construct a driveway?
waters on your land by avoiding
A Yes, from the Lake County Planning & Zoning Department. If access is or minimizing the use of fertilizers
obtained from a public road, an access permit from the township or and pesticides.
county highway department is also required.

Check list ✍
❑ Plan ahead: ❑ Road size:
Begin planning well in advance of the anticipated Consider reducing road width when possible by using
construction starting date. If you suspect wetland construction methods that minimize ditching, grading, or
disturbances will occur, contact the Lake County Planning filling. This approach further minimizes impacts while
& Zoning Department (834-8327) and the Army Corps of accommodating snow removal.
Engineers (834-6630) before you begin. In many cases, a
site visit can be arranged and a determination made that ❑ Stream or waterway crossing:
will avoid unnecessary delays. Permitting can take up to 6 If development requires crossing a stream or waterway,
months in some instances. Wetland impacts are calculated contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources-
in square feet and replacement may be required. Division of Waters (834-6623) for the classification or status
of the waterway. A permit is needed for building a bridge
❑ Road location and layout: or placing a culvert, if not from the DNR then from Lake
Use the natural topography as an aid in road layout and County.
keep in mind a reasonable attempt to avoid and minimize
the impact must be demonstrated. A “dogleg” design can ❑ Dams:
often be used to avoid wet areas. A curved road also limits All dam construction is regulated. Contact the Lake County
the line of site and promotes privacy. Planning & Zoning Department.

in Lake County

Sound management of our shore-
The consequences of uncontrolled
lands in Lake County is important • maintain natural vegetation and
or unplanned shoreline development and will help maintain high water minimize lawn area
can be disastrous. Over-developed and quality, sustain property values, • retain trees and shrubs for
poorly designed shoreland areas and retain the scenic quality of natural screening
degrade the entire water body. our lakes, rivers, and streams. • do not disturb steep slopes
Increasing demand for shoreline • retain aquatic and shoreline
building sites has led to skyrocketing Things to Consider When vegetation to protect shorelines from
land costs and intensive development. Developing Shoreland erosion
To protect the integrity of the shoreland • leave a 50 foot wide buffer strip • minimize or eliminate the use of
and water body, Lake County has of natural vegetation pesticides and fertilizers
established minimum lot width of 200 • limit amounts of impervious • minimize the amount of clearing
feet and one acre in size. surfaces for a beach and dock

Some commonly asked questions
Q What is shoreland?
A “Shoreland” in Lake County is defined
as all property within 1,000 feet of a
North Shore Management Zone
boundary between Lakewood
Township and the western corporate
• No structures, except decks, piers,
and docks, shall be placed at an ele-
vation such that the lowest floor,
lake, pond, or flowage, or 300 feet of limits of Two Harbors is the center including basement floor, is less than
a river or stream. It includes the line of the U.S. Highway 61 three feet above the ordinary high
North Shore Management Zone Expressway. water level.
Q What is the North Shore Management Q How are shorelines managed? • Alteration of vegetation is regulated.
Zone? A In order to provide a better manage- Selective removal is allowed to
A The shoreland along Lake Superior ment and protection tool for shore- provide a view corridor to water and
has long been recognized for it’s dis- land development, a lakes classifica- also to accommodate placement of
tinctive characteristics and abundant tion plan was developed and adopted stairways, picnic areas, access paths,
natural resources. Because the North for the county’s public waters. The watercraft access, etc.; however, that
Shore will continue to experience sig- public waters of Lake County are removal must leave sufficient cover
nificant development pressures in the classified by the Department of to screen cars, dwellings, and other
future, the land along Lake Superior Natural Resources as: structures from view from the water.
has been identified as a distinctive
management unit. • All roads in shoreland areas other
a) General Development
Q Where is the North Shore Management than driveways serving a single
b) Recreational Development
Zone Boundary? residence, shall be constructed so
c) Natural Environment
A The North Shore Management Plan that the right-of-way is no closer than
area boundary is defined along the 40 Rivers 222 feet to the vegetation line.
acre subdivision lines of the rectangu- a) Remote Other provisions relate to setbacks,
lar coordinate system established in b) Forested excavations, water-oriented accessory
the U.S. Public Land Survey, nearest c) Transition buildings, and agricultural practices.
to the landward side of a line 1000 d) Tributary Contact the Lake County Planning &
feet from the shoreline of Lake Q What are the guidelines? Zoning Department for details and
Superior or 300 feet landward from A Lake County has set standards for specifics.
the center line of U.S. Highway 61, land activities on shoreland areas. For
whichever is greater. However, the instance:
Fire Safety
in Lake County
15 things you can do to help
5. To burn brush anytime except when
protect your home from wildfire
there is 3 inches of snow on the ground, you
Each year hundreds of people build
must obtain a burning permit from a Fire
their dream homes tucked into the woods
Warden or the DNR. Always have a shovel
away from the city. Despite the beautiful
on hand and a garden hose hooked up
setting, these homes may be vulnerable to
BEFORE you start the fire.
wildfire. In fact, if your driveway and turn-
6. Driveways should be at least 12 feet
around area do not meet minimum access
wide with a 14 foot vertical clearance.
requirements, the fire department or other
Driveways longer than 150 feet should be 20
emergency vehicles may not be able to
feet wide. Excessively steep and narrow
enter your property. If your property
driveways will limit the ability of emergency
is deemed unsafe to access, emergency per-
vehicles to respond to your home.
sonnel have the authority to not respond if
7. A turnaround near your home should
the response puts their personnel in undue
be provided with at least a 30 foot radius. A
danger. Listed below are fifteen things you
“hammerhead – T” with a minimum of 60 feet across the
can do to minimize your risk from wildfire and guarantee
top is a good alternative.
safe access. For more information on this topic contact:
8. Have electric service lines to your home placed or
9. Thin and prune conifer trees in a 30 to 100 foot zone
1. Keep your firewood pile at least 30 feet from your
around your home.
home. Don’t store wood under an attached deck.
10. Locate propane tanks to a cleared area at least 30
2. An arrangement of vegetation (grass, leaves, branch-
feet from your home.
es, etc.) reaching from the ground to the crowns of trees
11. Install fire extinguishes in the kitchen and in the
around the house is called a “fuel ladder.” It provides a
means for fire to reach and climb to the top of a house.
12. Install a spark arrestor or heavy wire screen on
Eliminate this fuel by mowing tall grass, trimming shrubs
wood burning fireplaces and chimneys.
and pruning the branches off the lower six to ten feet of
13. Develop and discuss a fire escape plan for your
trees, especially conifers, within 100 feet of the house.
family. Have a practice drill and include your pets.
3. Do not burn trash. It is against the law to burn trash
in Lake County. Open fires can ignite wildfires and also
PLAN (see circle diagram below).
create air pollution.
15. Access additional information at:
4. Keep a 30 foot zone around your home clear of trees
and shrubs – a short green lawn will not carry fire.

Firewise Landscaping Checklist
When designing and installing a firewise landscape, consider the following:
• Local area fire history.
• Site location and overall terrain.
• Prevailing winds and seasonal weather.
• Property contours and boundaries.
• Native vegetation.
• Plant characteristics and placement (duffage, water and salt retention
ability, aromatic oils, fuel load per area, and size).
• Irrigation requirements

In Lake County Zone 3:
Zone 1: Beyond
This well-irrigated area encircles the house for at least Zone 2. (100
30 feet on all sides, providing space for fire suppression feet from the
equipment in case of an emergency. Plantings should be house), continue to
limited to carefully spaced, low flammability species. utilize low-growing
Zone 2: plants and well spaced trees,
In an area 100 feet from the house, plants should also using these and other measures to keep the volume of flam-
be low growing, low flammability species that are well mable vegetation (fuel) to a minimum. Care should be taken
spaced and well groomed. If possible any irrigation system to reduce or eliminate sites or pockets of fuel (e.g. refuse
should extend into this zone. piles) that are up to several hundred feet from the house.
Lake County…Fun Facts to Know and Tell!
Was established in 1856 and is Approximately 25 percent of Lake
the fourth largest county in Minnesota. County is classified as "wetlands" and
Lake County has at least 98 percent of
our pre-settlement wetlands.
Has 841 lakes and 418
streams – many of The average
them Designated annual precipitation is 28 inches
Trout Streams. The county
in the Two Harbors area and about seat was
26 inches in the Fall Lake area. changed from
The first iron ore to be shipped Beaver Bay to
from Minnesota left from Two Harbors
Two Harbors in 1884. in 1887.
Is at the junction of two major
watersheds – North of the
Laurentian Divide the water
flows to Hudson Bay and South of The highest elevation
the Laurentian Divide, the water in Lake County is north
The northern of Beaver Bay – 2,067
flows to the Atlantic Ocean
one-third of Lake County feet! For reference,
through the Great Lakes.
is part of the Boundary the elevation of Lake
Waters Canoe Area Superior is 602 feet
Wilderness. Is 83 percent publicly owned above sea level.
– 58 percent Federal,
13 percent State, and
12 percent County tax-forfeit. Is approximately 1,364,480
acres – about 2,132 square
miles! Approximately
Has approximately 55 miles of shore- The average
line on Lake Superior – the largest 118,000 acres are covered
snowfall is 65
freshwater lake in the world! Lake by water and the
inches with 171
Superior Facts – remaining acres
inches being
are primarily forested.
a. Average temperature is 40 degrees F – recorded in
only 8 degrees above freezing. the winter of
b. The deepest spot in Lake Superior is 1995-96.
1333 feet – deep enough to submerge Temperatures vary from close to 100
the Sears Building in Chicago with only degrees F in the summer to -50
the top two floors above the surface!
c. Along the Lake County shoreline, the degrees F in the winter. Due to the
lake depths drop to 700 feet within
The average moderating influence of Lake
three miles of shore! last frost in Superior, temperatures are warmer
d. The lake contains three quadrillion the spring is by the lake in the winter and cooler
gallons of water – 10% of the fresh- May 22nd with by the lake during the summer.
water supply on earth AND enough to the first fall
flood North and South America with frost occurring
one foot of water!
e. Lake Superior is the cleanest and the
clearest of the Great Lakes. 21st.
Has approximately 11,160 year-round
f. It takes about 182 years for water in
Lake Superior to be flushed out.
residents. This is down from 13,043
g. The Ojibwe name for Lake Superior is in 1980 but up from 10,415 in 1990.
"Gichii Gamii" which means "the
greatest" or "the ultimate huge" water.
Keeping Records

Legal Description of Your Property: Furnace Cleaned and Serviced (dates):
________________________________________________ ______________ ____________ ____________
Parcel Code/Tax ID#: ____________________________ ______________ ____________ ____________
Land Use District: ________________________________ ______________ ____________ ____________
Your Property Address (911 system address):
Homeowners Insurance Policy # and Agent:
Your Well Driller: ________________________________
Date drilled: ____________________________________ Hospital Number:
Unique well number: ____________________________ ________________________________________________
Type of well: ____________________________________
Lake/River Classification (setback distance):
Depth of well: __________________________________
Depth of casing: ________________________________
Yield rate: ______________________________________ Permit #'s issued for Buildings: ____________________
Well casing diameter: __________________________ ________________________________________________
Location of well: ________________________________ ________________________________________________
Last date water tested:
Police/Sheriff ’s Department: ______________________
______________ ____________ ____________
______________ ____________ ____________ Polling Location: __________________________________
______________ ____________ ____________
Road Right of Way Distance: ______________________
Your Septic System Designer/Installer:
________________________________________________ School Phone Number: __________________________
Date installed: __________________________________
Smoke Detectors Checked / Batteries Changed
Type of system: ________________________________
Location of system: ____________________________
______________ ____________ ____________
Last date system was cleaned:
______________ ____________ ____________
______________ ____________ ____________
______________ ____________ ____________
______________ ____________ ____________
______________ ____________ ____________ Taxes Due May 15th and October 15th:
Name of Property Owner When Installed:
________________________________________________ Other:
Year of Certificate of Compliance: __________________ ________________________________________________
Sewage Treatment System #: ______________________ ________________________________________________
County Commissioner and District: ________________________________________________
________________________________________________ ________________________________________________
Township or Unorganized Territory: ________________________________________________
________________________________________________ ________________________________________________
Electric Utility Emergency Phone Number: ________________________________________________


Emergency Phone Numbers
(218 area code) M I N N E S O TA

Fire Department – Emergency ......................................911
Ely Fire Department (Emergency) .................................. 365-3000
Ely Fire Department (non-emergency).......................... 365-3227
Two Harbors Fire Department (non-emergency) ...... 834-8816
Silver Bay Fire Department (non-emergency) ............ 226-0059
Finland Fire Department (non-emergency).................. 353-7503
Beaver Bay Fire Department (non-emergency) .......... 226-3161

Police Department – Emergency ..................................911
Ely Police Department ...................................................... 365-3222
Two Harbors Police (non-emergency) .......................... 834-5566
Silver Bay Police (non-emergency).................................. 226-4486 Lake County
Lake County Sheriff – Emergency ................................ 911
Toll-free for Fall Lake Township residents ............ 800-450-8832
Toll free for Silver Bay, Little Marais & Finland
................................................................................ 226-3609 (push 3)
Toll free for Isabella ............................................................ 323-7782
Lake County Sheriff (non-emergency) .......................... 834-8385

Rescue Squad – Emergency .......................................... 911
Two Harbors Rescue Squad (non-emergency)............ 834-5264
Silver Bay Rescue Squad (non-emergency) .................. 226-3888

Medical Services.............................................................. 911
Bay Area Health Center, Silver Bay ................................ 226-4431
Superior Health Medical Group,Two Harbors ............ 834-7200
Ely Clinic ................................................................................ 365-7900
Ely-Community Hospital.................................................... 365-3271
Lake View Memorial Hospital .......................................... 834-7300
MN Poison Control Center .................................... 800-222-1222
Two Harbors Ambulance Hall .......................................... 834-7110
Social Services
Child Abuse/Child Protection .......................................... 834-8400
Toll-free from Silver Bay, Little Marais & Finland ........ 226-3609
Toll-free for Isabella.................................................... 800-450-8832




Trunk Highway

County Roads