County Board approves shoreland ordinance amendment
Revisions to be implemented April 1
BY KEVIN BONESKE
After spending most of Tuesday’s meeting discussing the issue, the Oneida County Board voted 12-6 in favor of changes to the county’s shoreland protection ordinance.
The zoning amendment, which is scheduled to take effect April 1, received seven public hearings before the county’s Planning and Development Committee over the past 11 months as the wording was revised prior to final approval by the County Board. Supervisors Bob Mott, Jim Winkler, Carol Pederson, Bob Metropulos, Lisa Zunker and Bill Freudenberg voted against the measure.
The revisions in the county code, which the committee put together while working with staff from the Planning and Zoning Department, were in response to a provision placed into the biennial state budget approved in 2015, after which counties that have shoreland zoning ordinance standards more restrictive than now allowed by the state can no longer enforce the stricter standards.
Planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich provided an overview of the revisions made to comply with state law. He noted, for instance, counties must allow boathouses, though their sizes can be regulated, and shoreland zoning can no longer be used to require lot sizes with frontages of more than 100 feet.
The wording related to boathouses in the amendment states 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.
Individuals interested in the shoreland zoning amendment filled the County Board Room where the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting included several individuals who previously spoke at the committee’s seven public hearings when lake association members were on hand.
Some speakers urged the county to defy the state and keep stricter requirements in place in the interest of protecting water quality – something county corporation counsel Brian Desmond said would be unenforceable – while others who agreed the amendment weakened protections suggested changes.
Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association president Bob Martini urged the County Board to direct the committee to consider a 200-foot minimum lot size for the entire county, which he said would “negate the problem” around lakes by reducing the number of properties developed.
A provision in the shoreland zoning amendment that generated much interest and support from those in attendance related to keeping single-family residential zoning around Indian and Sugar Camp lakes, even though the town of Sugar Camp itself is unzoned. Desmond informed supervisors he had concerns about whether that zoning designation could subject the county to litigation and stand up to a court challenge in light of the changes in state law.
“The law is certainly not clear on this issue,” said Desmond, who noted he found nothing expressly in the law to allow the single-family residential zoning as it now exists around the two lakes.
Supervisor Scott Holewinski, who chairs the committee and is also the town chairman in Sugar Camp, favored keeping the single-family residential zoning around Indian and Sugar Camp lakes, as has been in place for decades, even if it would put the county at risk of litigation.
“The risk we should take is there,” Holewinski said.
The shoreland protection provisions in the ordinance amendment 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.