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Zoning changes sent to Douglas County towns for input

The draft ordinance adds new zoning district and regulations for campgrounds and signs.

Government Center in Superior
Government Center, Superior, Wisconsin. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Douglas County officials are making changes to the county zoning ordinance, and now it’s up to towns to weigh in on the final product.

Among the changes proposed are the creation of a new agricultural zoning district where concentrated animal feeding and captive cervid operations would be allowed, as well as regulations for signs and campgrounds.

Douglas County’s zoning committee stopped short Wednesday, Aug. 11, of placing a moratorium on new and expanding campgrounds to further study the matter out of concern the moratorium would further delay sending the revised ordinance to the towns for review and input.

Chairman Mark Liebaert questioned whether putting a moratorium in place might slow the process down for getting new campground regulations passed.

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“That would be my concern,” said Zach DeVoe, land services director.

The county put a moratorium on deer farms in 2019, a moratorium that has expired, DeVoe said, and there is still nothing on the books regulating them in Douglas County.

The creation of an Agricultural 2 zoning district was the impetus for changing the zoning ordinance, but with a sign ordinance struck down for the way it regulated signs and some towns seeking a moratorium on campgrounds, the changes were expanded.

“While we had hoped for the moratorium, we certainly understand the position the zoning committee has taken, and we’ll just go through the plan commission to get input back to you,” said Jan Jenson, Wascott town chair.

Under the proposed regulations for campgrounds, new campgrounds would require a minimum of five acres with setback requirements of 300 feet from any road or water’s edge and 75 feet from property lines. A maximum number of 10 campsites per acre would be allowed in F1, C1 and RR-1 zoning districts and must be in well-drained areas not prone to intermittent flooding. The regulations would require campsite identification and restrict accessory structures such as decks and storage sheds to a maximum of 200 square feet per campsite.

Brian Tedford, owner of Up North Resort and Campground, objected to the limits on accessory structures because people build decks and gazebos to have a place to sit outdoors and sheds to store all-terrain vehicles and lawnmowers at their campsites.

“I have 61 acres,” he said. “People have 40-foot campers out there. You’re basically saying that they can have a platform to come out that you can basically put four pairs of shoes on.”

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Jon Meteraud, owner of Crystal Lake Campground, encouraged county officials to consider the opportunities campgrounds create for visitors.

“These are their summer homes,” Meteraud said.

Jenson encouraged Tedford and Meteraud to attend the Wascott Plan Commission meeting when the town starts to review the county zoning ordinance.

“We’d like to get input from our campground owners, who we do support,” Jenson said. “We’d also like input from our lakes associations, our businesses, so we can get a balanced view of what people really want.”

The zoning committee Wednesday briefly discussed the proposed changes to the ordinance, which is now being sent to town governments for towns to review. The changes would all be subject to town approval, said Tessah Behlings, Douglas County zoning coordinator.

Even though taking action will not please everyone, zoning committee chair Mary Lou Bergman said officials must make a decision.

“There are a lot of issues with campgrounds and it’s a double-edged sword no matter what kind of action we take,” she said. “Someone’s not going to be happy, but I do think that we need to move forward one way or the other.”

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