Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area

Aerial Photograph of the Mississippi River through Coon RapidsThe MRCCA is a 72-mile corridor of land along both sides of the Mississippi River through the Twin Cities, including Coon Rapids. Development of this land has been regulated by a shared set of zoning rules since 1976 to preserve natural, recreational and cultural resources while accommodating growth and redevelopment.

The Minnesota Legislature updated the MRCCA rules in 2017and subsequently cities were required to adopt and comply with these coordinated regulations.  The City of Coon Rapids adopted the current regulations in 2022, which are administered as an overlay district and guide building and construction, vegetation management and removal, and land alteration.  The rules do not regulate surface water use.

If you want to perform work on your property and your property falls within the Mississippi River Critical Corridor area, you may need to obtain permits in addition to a building permit. Use this map to find out if your property is within the MRCCA boundary and see the FAQ section below to determine if the work you want to perform needs a permit. If you need to apply for a permit, the application forms are below. 

MRCCA Land Alteration Permit Application

MRCCA Land Alteration Property Owner Guide

MRCCA Vegetation Clearing Permit Application

MRCCA Vegetation Clearing Property Owner Guide

Construction in the MRCCA

Riprap/Shoreline Alteration Guide

Video Overview

Watch an overview of the updated MRCCA ordinance from CTN Studios. 


Is my property located in the MRCCA or any Primary Conservation Areas (PCAs)?

You can use the DNR's district and boundary map to find out whether or not a property is located in the MRCCA and if so, district it is located in.  The mapping tool also identifies any Primary conservation areas (PCAs) that affect a property.  PCAs are natural and cultural resources and the most common PCAs include: the bluff impact zone (BIZ), the shore impact zone (SIZ), floodplains, wetlands, native plant communities, and significant vegetative stands. 

When do I need a permit from the City of Coon Rapids? 

Any work that requires a Building Permit or other City permit, including buildings or building additions, garages or sheds, and driveways, requires those permits in the MRCCA district. Additional zoning restrictions apply within the MRCCA district, which are outlined on the handout Construction in the MRCCA.  A Land Alteration Permit is required for land alterations that involve more than ten cubic yards of material or affect an area greater than 1,000 square feet within certain areas of the MRCCA and construction or replacement of rock riprap, retaining walls, and other erosion control structures.  A Vegetation Clearing Permit is required for certain intensive vegetation clearing actitivies within PCAs. 

When do I need a permit from the Coon Creek Watershed District (CCWD)? 

A CCWD permit is required if a project on your property involves any of the following: land disturbance of 1 acre or more, land disturbance of 10,000 square feet or more AND within 300 feet of a waterbody or land disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more AND within 50 feet of a waterbody.  Land disturbance means any activity which results or could result in the removal of vegetation to expose bare soils.  This is not a comprehensive list of all activities which may require a CCWD permit, but are those most closely related to the MRCCA requirements.  For information on the CCWD rules, please visit cooncreekwd.org/permitinfo. If you are not sure if a CCWD permit is required for your project or you have additional questions, please call District staff at 763-755-0975.

What if I want to perform work below the Ordinary High Water Level?

DNR approval is required for work at or below the Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL). This includes construction or replacement of riprap, retaining walls, and other erosion control structures before the City can issue a related Land Alteration Permit.  Riprap installation and maintenance in compliance with certain DNR guidelines may not require a permit.  The area hydrologist covering the City of Coon Rapids is Wes Saunders-Pearce: 651-259-5822 or wes.saunders-pearce@state.mn.us.

Do I need a permit to install or maintain landscaping? 

Maintenance of your existing lawn, landscaping, and gardens are allowed without a permit. Repair of existing riprap and retaining walls are also allowed without a permit. However, rebuilding or constructing new retaining walls or riprap requires a Land Alteration Permit. 

Who do I contact for more information? 

Any questions can be directed to the City of Coon Rapids Planning Division at 763-767-6430 or planning@coonrapidsmn.gov.