Revisions being made to comply with state law
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The sixth public hearing to be held this year on proposed changes to Oneida County’s shoreland protection ordinance has been scheduled by the county’s Planning and Development Committee for Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. in the County Board Room of the Courthouse in Rhinelander.
The changes in the county ordinance are being made in response to revisions in state law included in the biennial budget from two years ago. Counties that currently have shoreland zoning ordinance standards more restrictive than now allowed by the state 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 was subsequently questioned by William C. Liebert of Liebert Architectural Design, who urged the committee to have the June 21 public hearing “wiped clean and you start fresh” after he found that notice of public hearing confusing.
Desmond then advised the committee to supersede the two previous ordinance amendments on shoreland zoning with new language, while noting the comments previously made would be taken into consideration.
When the committee then held its fifth public hearing Aug. 30, Liebert took issue with not being able to access the proposed ordinance online on the county’s website, as stated on the meeting notice where the document would be available for public inspection prior to the hearing.
Because of that online snafu, the committee agreed to hold a sixth public hearing.
The shoreland protection provisions in the proposed ordinance apply to structures and properties within 1,000 feet of the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) of a lake and/or 300 feet from the OHWM of a navigable river or stream.
The county is able to regulate the size of boathouses under the revisions in state law, for instance, but can’t prohibit boathouses outright.
After the first three public hearings, committee members revised the wording related to boathouses so that on lakes less than 500 acres, rivers and streams, the maximum width of a new boathouse may not exceed 14 feet or a maximum footprint of 336 square feet. On lakes 500 acres or more, flowages and chains, the maximum width of a new boathouse may not exceed 24 feet or a maximum footprint of 720 square feet.
Lake association members who attended the previous public hearing have called for further lowering the allowable square footage for boathouses, among other changes, in the interest of protecting water quality.
Changes to the shoreland protection ordinance would require final approval by the full County Board before taking effect. The County Board’s next meeting is set for Nov. 14.