Archive for February 2010

The Government take over of Your Lake front Property

February 15, 2010

State Shoreland Development Rules Updated

Forty years after they were first adopted, state shoreland development rules have been updated to better protect lakes and rivers while allowing property owners more flexibility on their land. These minimum statewide standards are just one tool Wisconsin uses to safeguard our shorelands for the future.

The state Natural Resources Board adopted revisions to the rules Nov. 13, 2009. The final, official rules are expected to be officially published in early 2010. County governments will have two years from that time to update their shoreland development rules to be consistent with or exceed the state’s rules.

Now and after the rules are enacted locally, owners of existing homes and buildings can keep what they have. They will not have to do anything different unless they propose a major change on their property, like remodeling their home, expanding it, or paving or covering more surfaces. Then, they may have to take steps to offset the potential impacts from their project: increased water runoff and pollutants, loss of plants to filter runoff and provide wildlife habitat, and impacts on their neighbors’ and lake and river users’ scenic views.

Key Shoreland Development Rule Provisions

Some Standards Remain the Same:

  • Homes must still be set back 75 feet from the water.
  • Minimum lot size requirements remain at 20,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet.

Some Standards Changed:

  • Spending limits on repairs to existing non-conforming residences located within 75 feet of the water’s edge have been eliminated.
  • Expansion of an existing home closer than 75 feet from the water is now allowed in some cases: a property owner can build a second story or otherwise add-on vertically, if their existing house is at least 35-feet back from the water. Expansion of an existing home more than 75 feet from the water is still allowed.
  • Property owners expanding the physical footprint of a non-conforming structure will be required to offset the environmental impact of the expansion by choosing from a number of options. Examples include reducing the amount of mowing next to the water, installing rain-gardens to absorb storm runoff, or re-planting native vegetation near the shoreline. Counties will set what the specific mitigation requirements are as they update their ordinances.

Some Standards Are New:

  • A new standard caps the total amount of hard or “impervious” surfaces such as roofs, pavement and decks allowed on shoreland property. The caps apply only to properties within 300 feet of lakes or rivers, and they do not affect existing property owners unless the owners try to make major changes that would cover up more land with hard surfaces.
  • No limitations would exist for additions or new buildings where the lot’s impervious surfaces do not exceed 15 percent of the total lot size. Where the sum total of impervious surfaces is between 15 percent and 30 percent of the lot size, property owners would be required to take measures to offset the environmental impact of their proposed project.
  • Building setbacks and minimum lot sizes stay the same
    • Structures must be at least 75 feet from the ordinary high water mark.
    • Minimum lot size would remain 10,000 square feet with 65 feet of frontage for lots served by sanitary sewers and 20,000 square feet and 100 feet of frontage for lots not served by sanitary sewers.
  • Rules on legal nonconforming structures made clearer and more flexible – Legal nonconforming structures, those built before their counties adopted shoreland standards and now closer to the water than standards allow, could more easily be maintained and repaired. The proposal would:
    • Eliminate dollar limits on the maintenance and repair of legal nonconforming structures.
    • Allow some expansion of buildings at least 35 feet from the water if the owner takes offsetting steps like restoring native plants or taking measures to reduce runoff.
    • Set height restrictions for those portions of buildings within the first 75 feet from the water’s edge.
  • New standard seeks to cut runoff pollution by limiting hard surfaces – Construction or expansion of buildings, driveways or other areas which prevent water from soaking into the ground is limited to 30 percent of the lot to reduce runoff and protect water quality in lakes and streams.


Contact Information

For more information

Gregg Breese
Shoreland Team Leader
(608) 261-6430

Last Revised: Thursday December 03 2009


DNR protects the Environment, but not Humanity.

It has come to My attention that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has taken on the responsibility to protect the Environment over any of Humanities needs and or Concerns.

Lake front property Owners pay a Huge amount of tax, but they have the least amount of Freedom from our Governing Agencies.

Most people don’t know how much power the WDNR wields. It’s not until you want to improve your property  through the permit process do you realize that they have full control over Your lake front property.

Most people don’t know that the DNR requires You before any structure can be improved, You must Certify your property through a delineation process, Which means they will check for Hydraulic soil (Wetlands) and navigatable waterways (Drainage Ditches or standing Water) and if any of this is happening on Your Property it will  change Your setbacks and Your activities that You thought were OK on R-1 Zoning and maybe enough to Rezone your property away form R-1 into a Conservancy district.

These restrictions imposed upon Us by our regulatory agencies would be Why most people choose to improve their Property’s with out going through the Bureaucracy of the DNR and Walworth county’s regulatory agencies.

Now I understand Why people put on new Roofs , Siding, Windows additions, Driveways etc. and all kinds of stuff that requires a Permit, but the County isn’t really aware of it and doesn’t actively look for it.

Most enforcement is done by Neighbors turning on other Neighbors and that’s when the County and the DNR acts and only then, unless it’s New construction then the Governing Agencies will do everything in their Power to stop or increase costs of any Development in shoreland areas.

As a side note;  the County and The DNR will not allow any ADA ( Americans With Disabilities Act) walkways to the shoreline. Any walkway or wheelchair path MUST stop 75 feet from the Waters OHWM

More advice from Your Government;

Till Next Time,