Tuesday, December 26, 2006


St. Cloud has always been indifferent to its waterfront. My office looks out on the Mississippi, sitting on a very nice piece of land on a bluff over the river across from Munsinger Gardens. The gardens are one of four city parks that abut the river. There are no shops along it, though, and the only other place than SCSU which uses the river to enhance its business is the Kelly Inn next to the civic center. Even there, you do not look at the river from the restaurant. Having grown up near boardwalks on the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire, I have found the indifference of St. Cloud to the river bewildering.

I'm not so bewildered by the complaints of those just to the south of us in Haven Township, who are worried about development on their lands. What they want is to prevent other people from using their property as they see fit. This is a very basic leftist tradition -- I get to tell you what to do with your land -- and they use government power to keep it so.

"We do feel that it's not really a valid reason for changing the rules, just because of expansion and developmental growth," resident and river advocate Jane Korte said. "We feel that the river continues to need protection."

The township board of supervisors passed a resolution last week calling for the DNR to keep the existing rules.

However, the DNR has been working to update the river's management plan since the late 1990s.

The plan in place hasn't been changed since it was adopted three decades ago, and officials say it no longer accurately reflects the St. Cloud area's rapid growth.

The problem with government rules on land use is that when relative values change the rules are difficult to adjust. Without the Dept. of Natural Resources' rules, developers and landowners could reflect changing use values through the property market. Now they have to plead before county commissioners and state bureaucracy, where property owner A can use force to prevent a transaction between owner B and developer C.

You have to wonder, how many other projects that might have happened along the riverbank in St. Cloud are held up by such arrangements?