Shoreland zoning change builds in flexibilityAs the year neared an end, the Douglas County Board made some changes to its shoreland zoning ordinance to comply with state law and Department of Natural Resources administrative codes.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
As the year neared an end, the Douglas County Board made some changes to its shoreland zoning ordinance to comply with state law and Department of Natural Resources administrative codes.
A new state law adopted in April changes the way counties administer shoreland zoning ordinances regarding non-conforming lots, uses and structures.
“The language that we are using is drawn from the Bayfield County ordinance,” said Zoning Administrator. Bayfield County recently amended its shoreland ordinance to comply with the new state law and changes made to Department of Natural Resources administrative code, Chapter 115, adopted in 2010.
“Their ordinance has been certified by the Department of Natural Resources and we’ve been given approval to adopt our amendments from the department,” Rannenberg said.
The ordinance guides new development along Douglas County waterways, establishing setback requirements for various lakes, rivers and streams. In cases where development occurred before the establishment of a shoreland zoning ordinance in 1985, the county law places restrictions on redeveloping structures on parcels that don’t conform to shoreland zones.
Structures on many parcels of land became non-conforming in 1998 when the county adopted a lake classification system, Rannenberg said. Non-conforming structures are those built within the setbacks of various lakes and waterways.
Douglas County has had a shoreland zoning ordinance since 1985. The ordinance underwent a major overhaul in 2004 to eliminate the value-based restrictions on expanding non-conforming structures, introducing a less subjective rule based on square footage.
The goal of restrictions is to eliminate eventually non-conforming land uses.
Supervisor Keith Allen questioned whether the changes would make the ordinance more or less restrictive.
“It is different. In some cases it provides a greater amount of flexibility,” Rannenberg said. “Currently we have a system for placing limitations on non-conforming structures only in the shoreland district … our ordinance currently restricts the ability to expand that non-conforming structure to no more than 50 percent of the existing structure, 30 percent of existing structural members and doesn’t allow unlimited vertical expansion.
He said the change eliminates the 50 percent limitation and allows vertical expansion to a total of 35 feet. It does maintain the mitigation requirement, the updated administrative code, which the county adopted Dec. 20, introduces an impervious surface standard, which taps the ability to develop on a specific lot.
Rannenberg said the changes in the shoreland zoning ordinance would not make existing structures that meet setback requirements non-conforming.
Supervisor Mark Liebaert questioned whether the changes would make it difficult to replace a non-conforming structure.
“There is a provision in NR 115 (the administrative code) that allows a non-conforming structure to be replaced if the county determines there is no suitable location on the property,” Rannenberg said. Structures destroyed by fire, weather and mold can be replaced under different regulations, he said.
The board approved the zoning code change Dec. 20.