Committee Hears About Shoreland Changes, Dangers

Mar 6, 2017

Audience members at the Rhinelander Planning and Development hearing last week.
Credit WXPR

Oneida County Planning and Development committee held three public hearings last week on the complex changes to the county's shoreland zoning ordinance.

Prior to the last state budget, the counties were allowed to have shoreland zoning rules stronger than what were considered minimum state regulations. Those rules cover everything from structure proximity to the shoreline to boathouses to height of buildings and much more. When the change happened in the last two years, the counties were ordered by the state to get their rules to conform to the less stringent state regulations.

Planning and Zoning Director Karl Jenrich summarized a long chain of meetings trying to rewrite the local rules...

.....we had 77 meetings withe Planning and Development committee. We've also had 21 meetings with DNR and other elected officials such as (Senator Tom) Tiffany and (Represenative Rob) Swearingen...."

He says they will go to the Wisconsin Counties Association to try to rewrite some of the provisions of the modified rules.

Bob Martini, a former DNR water specialist and county board member attended all three meetings, saying the lakes in the Northwoods are in danger because of development.

He said the local rules now must be as strict as allowed under the state rules, to offer as much protection as possible...

"...we already have some big lakes, some important lakes, showing signs of being adversely affected by nutrients already. Pelican Lake and Minocqua come to mind. These are lakes already approaching the tipping point. The tipping point is that point beyond which you can't recover. You can't remove nutrients from a lake. Once they're in there, they're in there forever unless it's a flowage with a big river coming in...."

Martini gave supervisors four areas where they still could control, to a degree, the county's water quality. Those included getting back local control, enforcement, education and having the most restrictive rules possible locally.

Committee chair Scott Holowinski said the committee has worked to balance the new rules with property rights and the need to protect the water.

The hearings on the changes were held in Woodruff, Three Lakes and Rhinelander.