Committee holds off forwarding changes to full County Board
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Another public hearing, the fifth to be held this year, is being planned on proposed changes to Oneida County’s shoreland protection ordinance.
The county’s Planning and Development Committee decided Wednesday to hold off on forwarding the revisions to the full County Board for possible final approval at the board’s August meeting as had been previously planned. Committee members instead agreed to hold off on their deliberations on the changes until after holding one more public hearing with the date yet to be determined.
The changes in the county ordinance are being made in response to revisions in state law done in the biennial budget from two years ago. Counties that currently have shoreland zoning ordinance standards more restrictive than established in the applicable state law and regulations can no longer enforce the stricter standards.
The committee, which has been going through the planned changes with the county’s planning and zoning department, first held public hearings Feb. 27 at the Woodruff Town Hall, March 1 in the Three Lakes Town Board Room and March 2 in the County Board Room of the Courthouse in Rhinelander.
In response to comments at the first three public hearings, committee members made changes to the proposed ordinance and, acting upon the advice of county corporation counsel Brian Desmond, scheduled a fourth public hearing at the Courthouse on June 21 when many of the comments expressed had been is support of keeping single-family residential zoning around Indian and Sugar Camp lakes, even though the town of Sugar Camp itself is unzoned.
The committee’s public hearing process had been questioned by William C. Liebert of Liebert Architectural Design. He urged the committee to have the June 21 public hearing “wiped clean and you start fresh” after he found the notice of public hearing confusing.
“It may have been confusing, but I believe we are within our right the way we did the notice of public hearing,” said county planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich.
To avoid any confusion as to the proper notice of public hearing for changing the shoreland protection ordinance, Desmond said the notice could include the current ordinance “is all going to be entirely washed away and replaced” with the new language being proposed.
“If you want a cheap insurance policy, and you want to make sure everything is clean, it wouldn’t hurt to do something like that,” Desmond said. “That way, Mr. Liebert’s concerns are taken care of.”
Desmond said the notice for the ordinance amendment should indicate the testimony from all of the previous public hearings “has been taken into account (and) it’s been made part of these changes.”
The committee has requested a legal opinion it is still waiting on from the state attorney general’s office as to whether the county’s shoreland protection ordinance could legally designate single-family residential zoning around Indian and Sugar Camp lakes, even though the town of Sugar Camp itself is unzoned. Committee member Jack Sorensen said the county could be “trying to legalize something that’s not legal, and Oneida County winds up having to defend itself.”
“We want something that’s going to the full County Board that’s clean, and that the entire committee can agree on,” Sorensen said. “And that’s what I’d like to see happen.”
County Board chairman Dave Hintz said he would like to see a measure presented to the full County Board that Desmond “signs off on that’s legal to pass.”