Fridley MRCCA Guidance

What (is the MRCCA)?

The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) is an area including lands adjacent to a 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River extending through the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. Land use and development within the MRCCA is regulated to protect the Mississippi River corridor’s natural, cultural, and scenic resources. Minnesota Statute 116G.15 establishes the authority for MRCCA Rules (Minnesota Rules 6106) that require the development of local (i.e., City) plans, ordinances, or other controls to implement MRCCA rules.

Where (do development restrictions apply):

The City of Fridley maintains a zoning map that illustrates the spatial extent of the MRCCA overlay. MRCCA is further subdivided into the following “Districts” based on land use:

  • CA-RN (River Neighborhoods)
  • CA-ROS (Rural and Open Space)
  • CA-SR (Separated from River)
  • CA-UM (Urban Mixed)

As an overlay, standard zoning districts as defined by the City are also present. Within each MRCCA overlay district, additional structure design standards and development/redevelopment performance standards apply. Compliance with applicable standards is determined through review of a site plan – site plan content requirements are included in City Code 205.28. In Fridley, improvements to single family dwellings and associated  accessory structures are exempted from submitting a site plan.

Some restrictions are established relative to the following definitions:

  • Bluff – area between the normal high water level and MRCCA boundary with slopes >12%
  • Bluff line – a line delineating the top of the bluff, established by connecting the points where slope becomes less than 12%
  • Normal high water line – water level defined in the City’s Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Flood Insurance Study (FIS).

Whom (do I contact about working in the MRCCA):

The City of Fridley administers the MRCCA program locally. Questions about projects located within the MRCCA should be direct to the City’s Planning Department. The City performs site plan reviews for MRCCA projects similar to other projects. The City also notifies the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality Board of all variance requests for setback requirements.

The City encourages developers and property owners to contact the City prior to submitting a site plan and permit application.

How (do requirements differ from other sites):

Within the MRCCA overlay districts in Fridley, additional requirements apply as follows:

Land Use

Permitted land uses include those of the underlying with the following exclusions:

  • Any barge fleeting or barge loading
  • Any waste storage, use, or treatment facilities
  • Any mining or extraction uses other than soil preparation or peat removal

Structure Design

Lot Size

Lot size shall be governed by the underlying zoning district

Building Height

Building height shall generally be governed by the underlying zoning district but shall not exceed the following maxima based on CA overlay district:

  • CA-RN (River Neighborhoods) = 35 feet
  • CA-ROS (Rural and Open Space) = 35 feet
  • CA-UM (Urban Mixed) = 65 feet


Setbacks shall generally be governed by the underlying zoning district with the following exceptions:

  • All new structures and uses shall be placed not less than forty (40) feet from the top of the bluffline.
  • All new structures and uses shall be placed not less than 100 feet from the Mississippi River normal high water line.
  • Exceptions include: public safety facilities, public bridges and approaches, public roadways, public recreation facilities, scenic overlooks, regional and local trails; docks and boat launching facilities, approved river crossings of essential services and distribution services and historical sites designated by the National and State Register of Historic Places.

Structure Placement

  • Limitations on structures per the City’s Floodplain Ordinance (Section 205.27) still apply.
  • Generally, no land with slopes >18% (before alteration) may be developed.
  • Development on slopes >12% but <18% may be permitted provided that the applicant can meet conditions specified in Section 205.28.
  • Line of Sight – the development or expansion of structures shall be placed to presere the view of the river corridor from other properties on both sides of the river and by the public.

Natural Resources

  • Grading and filling or otherwise changing the changing the topography landward of the normal high water level shall not be conducted without a City permit, and in compliance with the provisions of Minnesota Regulation MR 79, Section (h), of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Regulation, paragraphs (1), (2) and (3).
  • Retaining walls and erosion control structures waterward of the normal high water level are allowed if the applicable permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have been obtained.
  • Retaining walls and erosion control structures on the landward side of the normal high water level that are visible from the water surface shall not exceed 5 feet in height and be placed no less than 20 feet apart.
  • Clear-cutting of trees on the slope or face of bluffs and within forty (40) feet landward from the bluffline or river bank area shall not be permitted.
  • The selective cutting of trees >4″ in diameter may be authorized by the City, when cutting is appropriately spaced and staged to maintain a continuous natural cover.
  • The development or expansion of structures shall be done to minimize the need for tree removal. If trees >4″ diameter are cut, the density of tree cover shall be restored to that which existed before cutting.
  • The applicant shall demonstrate that all grading which takes place will be conducted in a manner that preserves the root zone aeration and stability of existing trees and provides an adequate watering area equal to at least one-half (1/2) of each tree crown cover.
  • Exceptions are allowed for the removal of diseased or damaged trees.

Water Quality and Erosion Control

  • Storm water run-off from any new development or redevelopment may be directed into public water bodies and drainage systems provided that it is substantially free from silt, debris, and chemical pollutants and meets applicable City stormwater requirements and MWMO performance standards.
  • Any new development shall provide for erosion protection measures which make maximum use of natural in-place vegetation.
  • During and after construction of new development, adequate development practices will be maintained to insure that gross soil loss levels shall not exceed the following:
    • 5 tons per acre per year during construction if not adjacent to a water body
    • 2 tons per acre per year during construction if adjacent to a water body
    • 5 ton per acre per year after the construction activities are completed
  • Structures, trails and roadways shall be sited to minimize levels of pedestrian and vehicular traffic in areas where soil compaction and loss of vegetation cover can contribute to erosion problems.

Public Access and Right of Way Maintenance

  • Public pedestrian right-of-way including river access shall be provided for any new development that is adjacent to or part of City plans for pedestrian movement (see Comp Plan).
  • Developments on publicly owned and publicly controlled riverfront property shall provide pedestrian riverfront access except where hazards exist or access cannot be designed to provide a pleasant view or recreational experience.
  • Natural vegetation of value to fish or wildlife, which does not pose a hazard or restrict reasonable use of the property, shall be allowed to grow in the right-of-way.
  • Where vegetation has been removed, new vegetation consisting of native grasses, herbs, shrubs and low growing trees, shall be planted and maintained on the right-of-way.
  • Chemical control of vegetation should be avoided when practicable.