Shoreland Zoning changes

The Wisconsin Legislature has made major changes to shoreland zoning in 2015-16. These changes are described in three short video presentations which you can view by clicking on the links below.

Part 1: Introduction to shoreland zoning and recent changes to required shoreland lot sizes

Part 2: Changes to shoreland setbacks, vegetation protection and impervious surface standards

Part 3: Changes to standards for buildings located close to the shoreline

These presentations were created by Lynn Markham, Shoreland Specialist at the University of Wisconsin Center for Land Use Education at UW Stevens Point.


This is a recap of the information that was presented at the LOFA Annual Meeting in July, 2016, regarding this issue:

Prior to the summer of 2015, the control of local zoning for shoreland properties was in the  hands of local county and town governments. The state had one set of minimal requirements, and, in many cases, local governments set higher standards, in the interest of protecting the quality of our lakes. During the 2015 Wisconsin legislative session, without anyone’s knowledge and without a public hearing, local control of shoreland zoning was removed from local governments and given entirely to the state. The only standards now are the minimum state standards. This includes minimum lot sizes, wetland protection, local control of shoreland residential lighting, and size of new construction. Since 2011, 120 bills reducing local control have passed the Wisconsin State Legislature.

The Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative started with a group of concerned residents around Plum Lake in Vilas County, and has now expanded to include over 60 lake associations, consortia, and town governments in northern Wisconsin. It is a non-partisan group that exists solely to advocate for the health of our lakes in the face of these recent events. The group is actively fighting against the bills being proposed that reduce local control of our shorelines, educating lakefront property owners about what is happening, and building support. They are preparing for the next legislative session by drafting a bill to return local control, which they intend to introduce at the beginning of the next session in January, 2017.

The good health of our lake is important for so many reasons. It’s the reason most of us are here. We want to be able to enjoy the beauty around us and leave it to our children. It’s also the foundation of the tax base and the economy here. And, since the lakes and rivers belong to everyone, it’s our responsibility as shoreline property owners to do what we can to keep the lake healthy.

The changes that took place in Madison in 2015 pose a direct threat to the health of our lake and to the way of life that we enjoy here. After some discussion at the LOFA annual meeting in July, the membership voted to send a contribution to the Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative. Visit their website for more information.


ICLRA’s shoreline zoning update as of August, 2015, is here.

Advertisements