Statewide public hearings began Tuesday over proposed changes to the Department of Natural Resource's shoreland development rules.

The DNR's Mary Ellen Vollbrecht says the rules would set minimum lot size standards, require structures to be set back 75 feet from lakes and rivers and require property owners to have no more than 20-percent of their lot be an impervious or hard surface like patios, rooftops or driveways. The changes would also establish rules for when property owners would have to preserve or restore natural habitats. Vollbrecht says much of the proposal would build on thing many property owners are already doing.

Vollbrecht says the rules are being rewritten in response to decreasing water quality and the harm caused to natural habitats by larger shoreland development.

Tuesday's hearing was in Wausau, with subsequent hearings planned in Rhinelander, Rice Lake, Tomah, Green Bay, Pewaukee, Stoughton and Oshkosh. 

AUDIO: Matt Lehman reports (MP3 :43)

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