shoreland zoning

The League of Conservation voters has sent out a memo to its members opposing legislation now being debated in the Wisconsin legislature.

Executive Director Kerry Schumann says there are seven pieces of legislation that are of concern to them, bills she says favors special interests over the public. One deals with the use of Wisconsin lake beds and a variety of shoreland zoning issues, Senate Bill 464....


The Vilas County Board tabled a resolution which would have put a six month moratorium on all land division within areas regulated by shoreland zoning.

The state budget changed local regulation, allowing looser state codes, and taking away tougher county enforcement.

At Tuesday's meeting, Zoning committee chair Ken Anderson asked the resolution be withdrawn. He says they want to look at the subdivision ordinance, including the shoreland regulations, then take them to the public.

Governor Walker approved changes in regulating shoreland zoning as part of the budget bill.

Those changes caused an uproar in the lakes-heavy Northwoods as local units of government were forbidden from regulating beyond looser state rules, especially in prohibiting dividing lake lots.

Conservationists say a small buffer on shorelines go a long way to preserving water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife.

Native vegetation along the shore acts as a buffer zone, intercepting nutrients and reducing runoff, erosion, and sedimentation. Aquatic plants provide food and shelter for ducks, songbirds, and other wildlife. Oneida County has a cost sharing program to help pay for the lakeshore buffer work.

County Conservationist Jean Hansen says funders would like to reduce runoff....

Yet another expression of displeasure with a state budget action to restrict counties from regulating shoreland property.

Last week the Oneida County Board voted to ask the legislature to remove language in the budget bill changing the state's shoreland zoning regulations.

Proponents, like Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, said it helped regain property rights and gave the rules uniformity, as all counties would follow less-stringent DNR guidelines.

The leader of a state lakes group says opposition is mounting to a change in Wisconsin's shoreland zoning rules.

The budget signed by Gov. Walker eliminated county control of shoreland zoning, instead reverting to less restrictive state rules. This produced blowback from the Vilas and Oneida county boards who voted by wide margins to oppose the changes, fearing more development and lower water quality.

Recently the Plum Lake Association in Vilas County said they were working toward revoking the change.

A provision that was deeply opposed by two Northwoods county boards passed the State Senate version of the two-year budget and went to the Assembly.

May 29, Republicans, including Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, put a provision in the budget which some felt greatly reduced local government's ability of regulate shorelines. It largely put a uniformity to shoreland zoning regulations at the DNR standards that some felt are much weaker than county codes. Tiffany said it was a matter of reducing regulation and protecting property rights.

Last week, the Oneida county board voted to oppose a change in state shoreland zoning rules put into the budget debate. Tuesday, the Vilas county board did the same thing.

The motion approved by the state budget writing Joint Finance Committee would greatly reduce the ability of local governments, mostly counties, from having shoreland rules stronger than state minimums.

The Oneida County Board Tuesday told the legislature's Joint Finance Committee they don't approve of inserting a non-budget change in shoreland zoning rules into the on-going state budget process.

Earlier this month, a  motion was added to the budget bill by Senator Tom Tiffany to place all shoreland zoning at the state minimum standards, which often are less restrictive than local ordinances. That move has drawn the ire of the Wisconsin Counties Association, and other groups, saying it shouldn't be put in the last minute without public debate.

Mark Miller /

Environmental groups are reacting against a proposal that restricts county shoreland zoning power.


Language within the state budget passed by the Joint Finance Committee says counties can’t employ stricter standards than those the state requires for what’s built on lakefront properties.

Republican Senator Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst says it will create uniformity.

Group Advocates For Stronger Shoreland Protections

Jun 8, 2015
Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

The Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association is hoping to influence the Oneida County Board of Supervisors into adopting a stronger shoreline protection ordinance for the county.


The state requires some protection, but this association would like to ensure new buildings are built 75 feet from shore, current buildings take steps to reduce run-off such as planting native plants and using rain barrels. In addition, they are asking the county to get more involved with permits and inspections.

A Vilas county group is promoting a way for property owners who have maintained a buffer to the water to preserve that shoreline.

The Vilas County Lakes and Rivers Association created the Shoreland Stewardship Initiative in the summer of 2014 helped by grant money.

The covenant is voluntary and allows the property owner to place a covenant on their deed, maintaining a 35 foot buffer with the water to continue on their property into the future, regardless of ownership.

Spokesperson Sandy Gillum...

Matthew Rethaber / WXPR News

Oneida County is holding two workshops on the value of maintaining woody habitat along lake shorelines.  

Rosie Page from the Oneida County Land and Water Conservation Department says fallen trees and branches provide valuable habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife…but that habitat is being greatly reduced. 

County Lake Associations Will Meet Friday

Jun 9, 2014
Natalie Jablonski / WXPR News

Six county lake associations are meeting on Friday in Rhinelander.

It’s a meeting that happens every other year…so groups can share ideas about protecting shorelines and waters.

Bob Martini is President of Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association.  He says counties face very different situations depending on how protective shoreline ordinances are.  But some issues are shared.

The state Natural Resources Board has approved changes in Wisconsin's shoreland protection laws that a DNR spokesperson says make them better for landowners.

The state updated the regulations in 2010 for the first time since the 1960's. The changes were met with resistence by local zoning administrators who said they were going to be costly and difficult to implement.


Russ Rasmussen, an administrator in the DNR's water division, says the update clarifies hard surface regulations concerning runoff. He outlines the changes...