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NR 115 revisions hurt lake protection PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

Over a year ago, the Department of Natural Re­sources (DNR) announced it was seeking to revise NR 115, the state administrative code that sets minimum standards for county shoreland zoning ordinances across Wisconsin.

After working through the initial stages of the process, the rule changes were un­veiled at the end of June, and public hearings are set to begin this week at locations throughout Wisconsin and to continue through August.

The rule changes, which Wisconsin Lakes oppose, ease rules relating to the percentage of impervious surfaces in a lot within 300 feet of a lake or river (including in a new and somewhat ambiguous category of “highly developed shorelines”), exempt some lots that currently must meet the impervious standard, and allow for a one-time side-to-side expansion of nonconforming structures outside the 35-foot setback from the waters edge.

The existing rules came about as the result of a long series of difficult but fruitful negotiations between conservation organizations (including Wisconsin Lakes), business interests, developers and the state. Finalized in 2009 and effective since 2010, the actual deadline for counties to have ordinances in place has continually been pushed back (currently it’s 2014).

These rule revisions go against many of the compromises agreed to as part of those negotiations. Except for in a few counties, the rules haven’t even been tested. Why should Wisconsin roll back shoreland zoning protection when the current rules haven’t been given a chance?

For more information on the rules, including links to the proposed language, check our NR 115 Revision web page at

Michael Engleson

Interim executive director

Wisconsin Lakes

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 4:14 PM

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