Shoreland Information for Residential Property Owners

The City of Buffalo regulates alterations of vegetation and topography within the shoreland area to prevent erosion into public waters, fix nutrients, preserve shoreland aesthetics, preserve historic value, prevent bank slumping, and protect fish and wildlife habitat. Please use the following guidance for informational purposes only and always contact the City to verify requirements. 

  1. When is a permit required?
  2. What are the general design standards?
  3. Is my lot located in the shoreland overlay district?

Always contact the City of Buffalo to verify if a permit is required for your project. A permit is required for:

• Construction of a building or addition to a building (including but not limited to decks, patios, staircases, lifts, etc.)

• Alteration of a SSTS (septic system)

• Any grading or filling activities that involve the movement of more than 10 cubic yards of material along a steep slope, shore impact zone, or bluff impact zone

Common Development Projects:

• Installation of a sand blanket above the OHWL that includes more than 10 cubic yards of material requires an excavation permit.

• For projects constructed below the OHWL, residents must contact the MN DNR as a permit may be required.

• Please refer to the MN DNR for installation best practices.

Shoreland Stewardship:

Please consider the following tips to practice shoreland stewardship:

  • Plant a Buffer Strip. Native vegetation provides important water quality benefits by filtering pollutants, naturally reducing runoff, and provides valuable fish and wildlife habitat. It also strengthens the soil column with deep roots that prevent erosion and bank failure.
  • Use Phosphorus-Free Fertilizer. Minnesota State Law requires that phosphorus-free fertilizer be used in Shoreland areas. Did you know phosphorus is one of the leading causes of algal blooms?
  • Do not dump waste. Grass clippings, pet waste, leaves, and debris add excess phosphorus into the water. 
  • Locate fire pits away from the shore and properly dispose of ash. Ash is high in phosphorus and the debris can easily blow into the lake. It is recommended that fire pits be located at least 50 feet away from the shore. 
  • Properly install, operate, and maintain your septic system. 
  • Shoreland homeowners are encouraged to stay updated with their Lake Improvement District.


Additional Resources:

Bluff means a topographic feature such as a hill, cliff, or embankment having all of the following characteristics:

(1)Part, or all, of the feature is located in a shoreland area.

(2)The slope rises at least 25 feet above the ordinary highwater level of the waterbody.

(3)The grade of the slope from the toe of the bluff to a point 25 feet or more above the ordinary highwater level averages 30 percent or greater.

(4)The slope must drain toward the waterbody.

An area with an average slope of less than 18 percent over a distance for 50 feet or more shall not be considered part of the bluff.