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Oneida County residents give mixed reaction to potential shoreland protection ordinance changes


An Oneida County committee held off on further discussions regarding amendments to the county’s Shoreland Protection Ordinance.

Last year, the Wisconsin DNR sent a letter to counties to update Shoreland Protection Ordinances. This was in response to a 2022 state law change that clarified viewing corridors on waterfront property and added bridges to the list of structures that could be built with the 75-foot setback.

While making those changes, the Oneida County Planning and Development Committee decided to make other updates as well.

The committee held a public hearing on the changes Wednesday afternoon.

Most people who spoke during the public hearing seemed to generally support the changes in the ordinance that would streamline permitting processes.

A lot of those same people also raised concerns about how some of the changes would impact water quality.

Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association has been leading an effort to get the county Planning and Development Committee to revise the ordinance to address the protection concerns.

Bob Mott spoke for the OCLRA at the hearing. He says the non-profit represents individual citizens as well as 26 Oneida County lake groups and their members.

The group is primarily concerned with the changes to some of the setback and vegetation rules that could lead to shoreline erosion and in turn a reduction in water quality.

OCLRA gave the committee the responses of 114 residents to a ballot it sent out to see where people stood on the issue.

Mott said a majority oppose the committee’s changes that loosen protections.

“This amount of concern should move the committee to revisit amendments to which there are so many opposed,” said Mott. “Please remember that your job is to produce an ordinance that does in fact protect Oneida County lakes and streams and does not weaken the protection.”

A few people who spoke during public comment were in support of the changes the committee has made.

Jimmy Rein of Minocqua says he’s been active with the zoning ordinance for the past 30-plus years.

He argues that some of the things flagged in the revision are already being done in neighboring counties and should be allowed to be done in Oneida.

“There’s a lot of people that aren’t here, that can’t be here that are in favor of this. You guys got elected by these people, put in this position because they want property rights. That’s what you’re doing. You’re doing what the electoral wants you to do. I commend you for that,” said Rein.

Rein said he was also the one that pushed for some of the changes that the DNR told the committee via email are not allowed.

Those are changes regarding stairs on boathouses and pathways in the viewing corridors.

The committee directed the Planning and Zoning Department Head to try and set up a meeting with the DNR to discuss the ordinance as well as compile information from public comment for discussion when they meet again.

You can view the committee’s potential amendments here.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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