We continue to slug away at the bills sponsored by Rep. Adam Jarchow. Sen. Tiffany seems to be in hiding on some of this stuff now. Yesterday, Senate Bill 477 had its public hearing – the companion, Assembly Bill 603, had its hearing last week. Both Bill O’Connor and I testified yesterday and I am enclosing my testimony and attachments that went with it as well as Bill’s testimony. I think you will see that we are changing course a bit in hopes of finding more support on the right side of the aisle.
In my testimony, I focused on two elements: lake classification and the Great Lakes setback.
Our thrust on lake classification is to point out how much time, effort and cost was put into the original effort – created by a Republican senator, Rob Cowles, who actually chaired the committee that we were speaking to. The idea here is that Wisconsin made a huge investment in lake classification that is now totally lost because of the actions of one radical legislator, outside the normal legislative process. To throw all this work away along with the knowledge, protections it provided and the many hours of discussion by the residents who actually use the lakes is a terrible waste and a huge loss. Senator Cowles, by the way, is simply furious about what has happened with Act 55 and is clearly on our side to get back to local control over shoreland zoning issues.
On the Great Lakes setback issue, we are focusing attention on the most obvious example of the harm Act 55 has done to shorelines. I got a great deal of help from Bayfield folks including Kathleen Russell of Apostle Islands Realty. She provided a quick education in the problem and I am very grateful. Make sure you put the Bayfield county map next to the zoning code Appendix A to get a complete picture of what they have to deal with and what a decreased setback to 75 feet could mean. In Bayfield county, 75 feet from the water is often on the edge of a cliff.
Other bills from Rep. Jarchow are still in the system and we are in conversation on these with legislators, including Rep. Jarchow, to attempt to modify the worst parts. There is a new bill that proposes to preempt another part of county zoning authority and allow all riparian property to be rented for 7 days, regardless of what is allowed in the zoning code. This will need to be addressed too or we will all potentially be living next to transient resorts instead of private residences. We still have hopes that we can put a bill through of our own, but the Assembly, filled with Republicans who like to “move as one” is going to be a huge hurdle. We are in hopes for some real leadership in the Legislature and/or Administration to surface and stop this, but it has not happened yet. Bringing respected private sector people who may have influence with our state government officials on our behalf is also being pursued.