Changes approved to minimum shoreland zoning standards
The State Natural Resources Board last week unanimously approved changes to minimum statewide shoreland zoning standards aimed at providing more flexibility for property owners and making the standards more straightforward for counties to implement.
The board also acted to extend to May 1, 2016, the deadline for counties to adopt the changes in their ordinances or adopt more protective standards. The rules must now go to the governor and legislative committees for review.
The unanimous votes to changes of Natural Resources Chapter 115 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code came after representatives from several organizations and individuals spoke before the board both for and against the changes.
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp told board members and the speakers that the rule changes were necessary because after DNR revised the minimum statewide shoreland zoning standards effective in 2010, some counties expressed concerns that the revisions would be administratively difficult to implement and enforce.
Stepp said the resulting changes, developed with a stakeholder group and through public hearings, “try to strike a balance of common sense, implementability and achieving that goal of better water quality.”
The revised rules allow more options for regulated hard or “impervious” surfaces on waterfront properties. Under the changes approved by the Natural Resources Board, base limits on impervious services would remain at 15 percent, but counties could allow up to 40 percent for residences, and up to 60 percent for commercial, industrial or business land, within specified urbanized areas where the shoreline is already highly developed.
The changes approved by the board also will allow counties to consider when the water drains to a system designed to treat the runoff when calculating impervious surface percentages.
The approved rule changes also allow more options for expansion of “nonconforming” homes closer than the currently required 75-foot setback from the shoreline.
The current rule limits expansion to expanding vertically in the same footprint; the rule changes allow some sideways expansion as well.