November 24, 2015


We have a bill!  It is now in its 4th draft, each representing a week of time.  The proposed legislation is now being fine-tuned in meetings with sponsors and this process will continue for another two to three weeks.  This bill will then be given a number and introduced prior or at the next floor session in January.  I must tell you that for me, a non-political person, this was a new experience for me.  “The birthing of an elephant” is a phrase that comes to mind.

If you have been gone, you should know that the fall floor session was consumed with infighting.  “They weren’t getting along” (senate and assembly) was a phrase I heard often.  What was finally resolved for the people of Wisconsin was limited.  The Assembly and Senate finally (and only) agreed on how to limit accountability of legislators by dissolving the Government Accountability Board (GAB) and reforming it with a new governing board made up of political appointments and two reserve judges.   The best we can say is that it is over.

The provisions of the bill being proposed will mitigate some of the damage done by Act 55.  It is NOT a repeal.  I am aware that it is everyone’s first choice.  It is mine too.  I am told repeal is absolutely not politically possible. As it is now written, the draft legislation would address our issues as follows:

  1.  Set backsGrandfather pre-existing local ordinances that imposed longer setbacks and that were in place at the time of the effective date of the state budget act.
  1.  Lot sizeGrandfather pre-existing lot size ordinances that regulated land division more restrictively than NR115.
  1. Nonconforming Structure Vertical ExpansionInstead of providing that any nonconforming structure may be expanded to a total height of up to 35 feet, allow vertical expansion of any part of the structure up to the maximum height of the structure (fill-in vertical expansion), and allow additional vertical expansion above the existing height to replace a flat or minimally pitched roof with a new pitched roof.
  1.  Buffer ZonesEstablish a viewing corridor maximum total width of a certain distance.  Under current law a viewing corridor may be 35 feet wide per 100 feet of frontage and may run consecutively.
    Require that NR115 and County shoreland zoning ordinances place lots with an established buffer zone in at least 65% of the area between the OHWM and a 35-foot setback into a more permissive category under any applicable impervious surfaces standard.

I have requested that the residential lighting issue also be addressed but it has received minimal discussion and I have not heard anything about it.  I did not understand why that was of such importance that it was included in the budget bill amendment and am trying to find out what is behind that.  If anyone is aware of current problems with regard to shoreland residential lighting regulation, please let me know.  In general, our view is that the state has no standards and that local government is the only one prepared to handle the issue if it arises.

Again, our bill is headed to the January floor session.  This is the final floorperiod of the current Legislative Session and is scheduled to run from January 12 to April 7, 2016. When it has been introduced, we will be asking for everyone to re-contact their legislators to ask them to support this very reasonable revision to the unreasonable changes in act 55.

I will be sending the bill itself as soon as it is given a number, which we hope will be in the next two weeks.  Thank you for your patience and support.  We will keep you updated.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative.

John Richter



Wisconsin Shoreland Initiative
The Lake and Property Owners Associations of
Plum Lake  • Black Oak Lake  • Big Portage Lake  • Three Lakes Chain  • Found Lake  •  Big Sand Lake  •  Ballard/Irving/White Birch Lakes  •  Nelson Lake  •  Boulder Lake  •  Two Sisters Lake  •  Pelican Lake  •  Big Horsehead Lake  •  Eau Claire Lakes  •  Ike Walton Lake  •  Bayfield County Lakes Forum  •  Northwest Wisconsin Waters Consortium  •  Crab Lake  •  Long Lake  •  Big Bass Lake  •  Lake Katherine  •   Finger Lake  •  Eagle River Chain  •  Lake Owen  •  Upper St. Croix Lakes  •  Lac Courte Oreilles  •   North and South Twin Lakes  •  Carpenter Lake  •  White Sand Lake  •  Indian Lake  •  Manitowish Chain  •  Yellow Birch Lake  •  Hewitt Lake  •  Osprey Lake  •  Whitefish Lake  •  Diamond Lake  •  Hunter Lake  •  Lake Minnesuing  •  Lake Mildred  •  Red Lake  •  Armour Lake  •  Little Bass Lake  •  Slim Lake  •  Turtle Flambeau Flowage  •  Trude Lake  •  Chippewa flowage  •  Carlin Lake   •   Tainter/Menomin Lakes   •   Mildred/Clear Lakes   •  Papoose/ Rosalind Lakes   •  Spider Lake   •   Whitefish Lake
The Vilas, Oneida, Polk, Douglas, Iron, Washburn, and Watersmeet Lakes and Rivers Associations  • Town of Winchester   • Sawyer County Lakes forum
The Northwest Area Wisconsin Land And Water Conservation Association (representing land and water departments from 11 counties)
and dedicated individuals too numerous to mention