Glossary of Terms

Appendix A – Glossary of Terms

CLUSTER INDUSTRIES | A group of supportive industries that are linked through their supply chains. A cluster development focus seeks to improve economic conditions for a group of related industries, rather than targeting a specific firm or industry.

COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE LAND USE PLAN | The County Comprehensive Land Use Plan is a planning document which encompasses the guiding vision for the use of land within St. Louis County’s zoning jurisdiction. The Plan is implemented through county development regulations (See “Zoning and Subdivision Regulations”). The Comprehensive Land Use Plan serves as a “Comprehensive Plan” with respect to Minnesota State Statute Section 394.23.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS | Funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which St. Louis County distributes to local communities and non-profit agencies through an annual competitive process.

CONSERVATION SUBDIVISION | Defined by St. Louis County as a method of subdivision characterized by set-aside open space and compact residential lots that may or may not be clustered. The purpose of a conservation development is to create greater community value by providing open space amenities for homeowners and protecting natural resources, while allowing for residential densities consistent with the prevailing zoning.

COUNTY BOARD | The St. Louis County Board of Commissioners, which is served by seven elected representatives.

COUNTY DIGITAL MAPPING RESOURCES | Geographic data and mapping resources which are maintained by St. Louis County, including web-based mapping applications and data files for download and use with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. The county maintains spatial data for parcels, roads, zoning, and numerous other features. County digital mapping resources are accessible at

COUNTY ZONING JURISDICTION | When this term is used, it refers to only those areas where county zoning requirements apply. It does not include any cities or townships with their own zoning authority.

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES | Benefits which humans freely gain from natural ecosystems (e.g., flood control). Economists attempt to quantify the value of these services so they are properly considered in decision-making.

EXTRACTIVE USES | The use of land for surface or subsurface removal of sand, gravel, rock, industrial minerals, other nonmetallic minerals, and peat not regulated under Minnesota Statutes, sections 93.44 to 93.51.

FIREWISE | A national and statewide program aimed at reducing wildfire risks. The program offers grant funding and education assistance to local governments to implement mitigation actions.

FREIGHT CORRIDOR | A highway or railroad which conveys freight traffic via truck or train. These routes are engineered to specific design standards corresponding to thresholds for weight or volume (e.g., 9 or 10-ton road or equivalent single-axle loads). Access management, right-of-way, and roadway design standards are used to facilitate efficient truck movements while ensuring safety for the public.

FUTURE LAND USE MAPS | The maps of future land use for St. Louis County that portray the physical area and locations of different future land use categories, such as Forest and Agriculture or Crossroads Commercial. The Future Land Use Maps were vetted through public/stakeholder review and were formally adopted as part of the County Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

GIS | Geographic information system (GIS) is a software designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. GIS data and software is used extensively by the St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department.

IMPAIRED WATER | A body of water which exceeds the federal standard for nutrient or bacterial concentration, and which is no longer drinkable, swimmable, fishable, or usable in other designated ways. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) sets pollutant reduction goals for impaired waters.

LOCATION QUOTIENT | The location quotient quantifies the relative degree of industry specialization in St. Louis County, measured by employment per capita, compared to other counties in the United States. Industries with a location quotient above 1 are part of the basic sector. In St. Louis County, the mining industry has the highest location quotient – hence, the highest degree of specialization.

LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT (LID)| Defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as referring to systems and practices that use or mimic natural processes that result in the infiltration, evapotransporation, or capture of stormwater in order to protect water quality and associated aquatic habitat. LID practices are typically a component of “conservation subdivisions.”

NATURAL FEATURES | Natural features encompass most plant communities; water bodies and wetlands; wild plant and animal species; areas of geologic significance (e.g., seeps or springs); and other natural habitats, such as caves used by bats.

NATURAL RESOURCES INVENTORY (NRI) | A compilation and synthesis of natural resources data used to understand which natural features (e.g., plant communities, water bodies) exist in a region and what their existing condition is. NRIs are used as a foundation for many planning projects, such as comprehensive plans, site master plans, and watershed conservation plans.

NONCONFORMITY (NON-CONFORMING USE) | Lawful use or occupation of land or premises existing at the time of the adoption of county zoning ordinance, as further defined or described in Minnesota Statutes, section 394.36.

OPPORTUNITY ZONE | A low-income census tract, identified by the governor, within which preferential tax incentives may be utilized to encourage private investment.

PAPER SUBDIVISION | A platted subdivision which has been approved and recorded, but never constructed. Further, some elements of a constructed subdivision may exist on paper but not in reality (e.g., right-of-way which was never paved.)

PARATRANSIT | Transit service that is customarily designed to accommodate people with disabilities. Paratransit is an on-call system (dial-a-ride), as opposed to fixed-route transit, so it is ideal for serving low-density areas in St. Louis County, regardless of rider ability. St. Louis County is served by Arrowhead Transit. The Fon-du-Lac Reservation and Cloquet Area are served by Fond-du-Lac Transit.

PARCELIZATION |The division of large blocks of land into smaller pieces, typically to facilitate the sale or development of private lands.

PRIME FARMLAND | Defined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service as “land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops. It has the soil quality, growing season, and moisture supply needed to produce economically sustained high yields of crops.”

SAFE ROUTES TO SCHOOL | A federal program that provides funding for communities to improve opportunities for children to walk or bike to school.

SHORE IMPACT ZONE (SIZ) | Defined by St. Louis County as the land located between the ordinary high water level of a public water body and a line parallel to it, at a setback of 50 percent of the structure setback, except on General Development lakes where the minimum shore impact zone shall be 50 feet deep. Per the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, this zone is critical to preserving water quality, wildlife habitat, and visual screening of the developed area (as from the water). Therefore, within this zone restrictions apply to the placement and size of structures, vegetation removal, and shoreland alterations (e.g., grading and filling).

TAX-FORFEITED LAND | Land that has forfeited to the State of Minnesota for non-payment of property taxes, which is managed in trust by St. Louis County. There are nearly 900,000 acres of tax-forfeited land in the county.

TAX INCREMENT FINANCING (TIF) | A public financing method that subsidizes redevelopment or infrastructure projects. TIF diverts a portion of future property taxes which will increase as a result of development to finance initial project costs.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, ENTIRE COUNTY, OR THE COUNTY | When these terms are used, they each refer to the county in its entirety, including all cities, townships and unincorporated areas.

ZONING AND SUBDIVISION ORDINANCES | Zoning and subdivision regulations represent the primary means of local control that St. Louis County can exercise to regulate the development and use of land within its zoning jurisdiction, and are thus the means by which the county implements the County Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Zoning specifies specific uses allowed via zoning districts and also regulates the size of lots and the structures they contain, including building height and bulk (density requirements), and placement (setback requirements). Ordinance 62 effectively includes current county zoning regulation.

The Subdivision Ordinance establishes procedures and design standards for the subdivision of land within the county’s zoning jurisdiction. Ordinance 60 provides the county’s current subdivision regulations.


Learn more about the St. Louis County Comprehensive Land Use Plan.


View report appendices.


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