The state Natural Resources Board has passed updates to Wisconsin's shoreland protection rules .
The new rules, the first major statewide shoreland protection revision in over 40 years, will increase flexibility for property owners to manage their land, while improving environmental protections for lakes and streams, according to Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank.
The updates, which reflect 50,000 public comments the DNR received over several years at more than a dozen public hearings, are also expected to streamline the administrative process.
Wisconsin's shoreland protection rules, first created in 1968, largely apply to unincorporated areas outside city and village boundaries. Under the proposal, basic provisions of the shoreland protection rules would remain unchanged, including a 75 foot setback from the shoreline for new structures and minimum lot sizes of 20,000 square feet (10,000 square feet for sub-standard lots). The new rule would implement a 35 foot limit on the height of shoreland structures.
Under the new rules, shoreland owners with an existing non-conforming residence located between 35 feet and 75 feet of the shoreline would have greater flexibility to make home improvements. Spending limits for repairs to existing homes are removed. It will no longer be necessary to request a variance from the county if the homeowner is spending more than 50% of the value of the property.
However, a property owner 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. Non-conforming structures may not be expanded towards the water but may be expanded on the other three sides, as long as impacts are offset.
In addition, the proposal would implement a cap for the amount of impervious surface allowed on shoreland property, similar to caps found in a number of county shoreland ordinances. Impervious surfaces include the roofs of buildings and pavement.
Legislative review of the proposal is now required.