Village of Lake Nebagamon officials are spreading the word about a recent ordinance change affecting shoreland property owners.
Amendments made to the village zoning ordinance Sept. 3 now require a land use permit for removal of vegetation, trees and shrubs from the shoreline to 35 feet inland or for filling, excavating, grading, major landscaping and ditching projects from the shoreline to 300 feet inland.
“The permit is not meant to be punitive or for us to wag our finger and say, ‘You can’t do that.’ It’s to get a plan in place so we can proceed correctly,” Village Clerk and Zoning Administrator Amy Huber said during the Oct. 30 Zoning Commission meeting.
There is no fee for the permit. If the ordinance is violated, it can result in a $1,000 fine and require restoration work. It is unknown how many homeowners will need permits annually.
“We’ve never required a permit for this kind of landscaping before,” Huber said. “We’re breaking new ground. If you want to remove a tree, if you want to remove a bush, you’re going to need a permit.”
The amendments bring the village ordinance in line with changes made to Wisconsin Act 55 in 2017 aimed at creating a dialogue between homeowners and zoning commissions before any work is done that could negatively impact the lake. It also makes the ordinance enforceable.
“A large part of the issue prior to September is the ordinances regarding shoreland, the shoreline cutting, viewing corridors and things like that, were not enforceable,” Huber said. “They were not written well. So one thing the commission has been tasked with was revamping that.”
Huber has penned an article for the Nebagamon Lake Association about the ordinance change and planned to share information with local contractors to remind them to check for a permit before starting work.
“And put it in the hands of the realtors, too, perhaps. They are the ones who are selling these properties and changing the lay of the land,” said Gretchen Takkunen, a member of the Nebagamon Lake Association.
Takkunen raised a concern about one shoreland project currently taking place in the village. Huber told her the Department of Natural Resources was looking into it. The DNR’s jurisdiction covers shoreland below the ordinary high water mark and wetlands, according to Jenny Croonborg-Murphy, DNR waterway and wetland compliance specialist.
Although everything has to align with state statute, she said, “counties, cities and villages are required to enforce those actions above the high-water mark.”
Croonborg-Murphy, who oversees 18 counties, said complaints the DNR receives are addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Huber encouraged community members to share any concerns they have with the village.
“If you have a concern about a property that you feel is in violation of the ordinance, please send me an email or fill out a complaint form,” Huber said. “Then I can investigate and take the proper steps according to the ordinance.”