Planning & Development

Natural Resources

New Floodplain Maps & Comments/Appeals due 1/18/2024

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is using updated data and newer technology to create updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) to more accurately represent the risk of flooding in Duluth. These maps are currently in draft form, and open for public review and comment. Please see this page for an explanation of the new maps and the process for filing a comment or appeal before the 1/18/2024 deadline.

Environmental Assessments

An Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) is prepared to analyze whether or not a project is likely to cause significant environmental impacts. The City of Duluth Planning Commission is the Responsible Governmental Unit (RGU) for the City of Duluth. Information on active and older EAWs can be found on the Environmental Assessment Worksheets (EAWs) page.

Natural Resources Overlay Zone District

Community Planning oversees environmental regulations relating to wetlands, floodplains, and shorelands. These regulations can be found in the UDC as part of the Natural Resources Overlay district.


Wetlands may have water year-round or seasonally. They can be identified by looking at the soil and vegetation in the area, and categorized into wetland types. A handout from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers includes pictures of different wetland types. Here is a link to a webpage that has some frequently asked wetland questions.

If the City believes there are wetlands in the area, you may be required to complete a wetland delineation. The City requires developments to follow the regulations of the Wetland Conservation Act (WCA). Wetland delineations and wetland replacement plans are reviewed by the Duluth Technical Evaluation Panel (TEP), which is staffed by representatives from the Department of Natural Resources, Board of Water and Soil Resources, and the South St. Louis County Soil and Water Conservation District. A representative from the Army Corps of Engineers is also included in TEP meetings.  For links to wetland applications (not including Notice of Application or Notice of Decision), see Applications and Checklists

Click here for an external link to wetland consultant.


Floodplains are areas of the community at greater risk of flooding. They are mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and are incorporated into the interactive Community Planning map. Floodplain regulations govern land uses and building construction, and aim to protect life and property in the case of a flood. Floodplain regulations differ depending on whether a property is in the “floodway” or “flood fringe,” as shown on the image below.


Property owners can appeal to FEMA to amend the floodplain map if they think it is incorrect; here is a link to more information on the process:


Shorelands are areas near water bodies, where activities are most likely to affect water quality and aquatic habitat. The Minnesota DNR has designated shorelands as those areas within 300 feet of a stream and 1000 feet of Lake Superior. They are classified as General Development, Natural Environment, or Coldwater Stream (coldwater streams are those capable of supporting trout populations). Shoreland designations are found on the interactive Community Planning map.

Solar Energy

The below web tool was built using the existing Minnesota Solar Suitability Analysis, but aggregates and summarizes solar measurements for individual buildings in a more focused and user-friendly format, providing locally calibrated results such as installation sizing and cost.  It also provides users general solar information applicable in Duluth, such as available incentives, financing and installers.

Tree Preservation

Our community values our urban forests and trees, and aims to reduce the number of trees impacted when sites are developed. Under UDC regulations in Section 50-25, certain types of development are required to preserve and/or replace trees removed as part of the project.