BY KEVIN BONESKE
The Oneida County Planning and Development Committee has scheduled its seventh public hearing on the county’s proposed shoreland protection ordinance for Jan. 10 at 1 p.m. in the County Board Room of the Courthouse in Rhinelander.
Following enactment of the biennial state budget in 2015, counties that currently have shoreland zoning ordinance standards more restrictive than now allowed by the state can no longer enforce the stricter standards. Committee members recently indicated they hope the revisions made to the county ordinance can be finalized before the start of the spring construction season.
After holding the sixth hearing Oct. 24, when representatives of the Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association suggested revisions to the proposed ordinance, committee members voted 3-2 in favor of changing the setback for excavation near a shoreland wetland from 5 to 15 feet. Because of amending the measure, county corporation counsel Brian Desmond recommended holding a seventh hearing.
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 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 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 them 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 have attended the public hearings have called for further lowering the allowable square footage for boathouses, among other changes, in the interest of protecting water quality.