Sawyer County Lakes Forum Fall Meeting to Hear Wisconsin State Guidelines for Shoreland Use
The Sawyer County Lakes Forum Fall Meeting, Saturday morning, September 15th, at the Comfort Suites in Hayward, will address the interpretation and understanding of how NR 115 and Act 170 (the new Wisconsin State guidelines) are to be applied to shoreland use. Zoning and Conservation Administrator, Dale Olson, and Zoning and Sanitation Technician, Jay Kozlowski, will be the featured presenters.
Currently there is confusion and anxiety about the meaning and interpretation of recent legislation. Many would like to hear just how counties plan to interpret and administer guidelines for shoreland use. Is it possible to have a clear and understandable explanation of what the standards now are?
Simply put, as Dale Olson says, “our only job is protecting the environment from people, and people from each other.” But now we have new legislative rules. The problem for understanding how the new regulations are to be applied is that “it’s all the way you interpret the rules,” but “we have had little to no guidance,” as Dale points out. He admits that “we are sort of leading the league on this.” Other counties will be viewing what we do here in Sawyer County.
Jay Kozlowski notes that now “counties cannot be more restrictive” than State guidelines. Act 170 “is the floor and the ceiling.” Ironically, “3/4 of the official ordinance is ours—even the font” that the official guidelines used! But the basic question remains—how does this new State guideline affect Sawyer County’s Shoreland-Wetland Protection plan.
Act 170 came out of Senate Bill 472 in 2011. Dale points out that “they reinterpreted it so now it’s only germane to non-conforming structures.” “What Act 170 did was remove home rule from counties,” and he adds, “so now it’s the same (a flat rule) for everybody—everyone is on the same” standing with no difference regardless of where you are in the state, what your environmental conditions may be and what the values of people in the county are.
Senate Bill 472 states that “under current law, a county must enact a shoreland zoning ordinance for all shorelands in its unincorporated area and the ordinance must meet shoreland zoning standards established by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by rule.” Bill 472 “also provides that DNR may not establish a shoreland zoning standard, and a county may not enact or enforce a shoreland zoning ordinance, that prohibits the construction of a structure or building on certain lots, parcels, or tracts (lots).” Under the bill, “a shoreland zoning standard or ordinance may not prohibit the construction of a structure or a building on a lot that does not meet minimum area and width requirements if the lot met those requirements when the lot was originally created or if there was no shoreland zoning standard or ordinance in effect that established minimum area and width requirements when the lot was originally created.”
Bill 472 further states that “generally under current law, zoning restrictions that would otherwise apply to a damaged or destroyed nonconforming structure may not prohibit, subject to a number of conditions, the restoration of the structure if it will be restored to the size, location, and use it had before the damage or destruction occurred, unless the size must be larger to comply with state or federal requirements.” The bill goes on to state that “in addition, and subject to the same conditions, the restrictions in the zoning ordinance may not impose limits on the costs of the repair, reconstruction, or improvement of the structure.” And “the conditions that apply to the restrictions in the zoning ordinance are as follows:
1. The structure must have been damaged or destroyed after March 1, 2006.
2. The structure must have been damaged or destroyed by violent wind, vandalism, fire, flood, ice, snow, mold, or infestation.”
Under this bill, “a zoning ordinance may not prohibit, or limit based on cost, the repair, maintenance, reconstruction, renovation, or remodeling of a nonconforming structure in existence on the effective date of a zoning ordinance that relates to that structure.”
This meeting at the Comfort Suites in Hayward is open to the public, and representatives from all the lake associations in Sawyer County will be in attendance. The agenda starts with registration at 8:30 a.m. and call to order is at 9:00. The agenda includes reports on significant actions taken by the Sawyer County Lakes Forum Board, strategic planning for the coming year, election of officers for 2013, legislative initiatives, assistance to lake associations and coordination with all northwest Wisconsin county lake forums. And we’ll introduce our new web master, Martin Hanson. The Forum’s website is www.SawyerCountyLakesForum.org.
Presentation and discussion of the changes in the new Wisconsin State guidelines will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. by Dale Olson, Land and Water Conservation and Zoning Administrator. Jay Kozlowski, Zoning and Sanitation Technician. A round table open discussion will follow, and setting dates and places for 2012 meetings will conclude the Forum’s meeting.