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OC Board Approves Reduction In Setbacks For Some Wetlands

National Park Service

The Oneida County Board has approved a modification of it's shoreland protection ordinance, though there was some public opposition to the move. The change does not directly affect the wetlands directly next to lakes and rivers, but upland wetlands.

From 2004-2018, the code was a setback of 5 feet. In 2018, the board updated the ordinance requiring 15 feet of setback from those wetlands.

During public comment, six people spoke in opposition to the change.

Retired DNR water specialist Tom Jerow said the proposed 5' buffer was too small..

"But the real impact to the wetland is having an impervious surface, like an asphalt driveway, within five feet of the wetland boundary. The long term negative impacts to wetlands are well-documented in scientific literature and having a 15 foot buffer provides better protection for the wetland..."

Karl Fate of Crescent said the need for the change had not been fully proven...

"....This version of the resolution and a previous version indicate a single case as justification for reducing the setback for shoreland wetlands across the entire county. Furthermore, neither of the versions contain enough information to make a credible case..."

Planning and Development committee chair Scott Holowinski said the committee felt 15 feet was too much, noting Vilas county has a zero setback for these types of wetlands. He says it's difficult to put in driveways, as an example, under the current rule...

"..Changing back to the 5 foot setback would still be more restrictive than the 8 other counties around us that have a zero setback and the DNR rule. Changing back to the 5 foot setback to the landowner the useable area they lost two years ago and potentially increase the tax base for Oneida county moving forward..."

The board voted 15-3 to return this portion of the ordinance to 5 feet.

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