County board discusses NR 115 and zoning plan
The Department of Natural Resource (DNR) Shoreline Protection Program, loosely known as NR 115, was a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Oneida County monthly board meeting. In fact, it drew close to a dozen citizens who came to voice their concern over a county resolution that was included on the board’s agenda requesting that impervious surface requirements written in NR 115 be stricken.
Currently forums are being held for public input about NR 115 throughout the state. The impervious surface provision of the proposal has several conditions including how impervious surfaces should be measured. In addition the NR 115 document states that “a county may allow up to 15% impervious surface on the portion of a lot or parcel that is within 300 feet of the ordinary high-water mark.”
It also states that “a county may allow more than 15 per cent impervious area if a property owner agrees to implement a mitigation plan to offset the impacts of impervious surface water quality.”
For Jean Roach, president of the Pelican Lake Property Owners Association, suggesting to eliminate that portion of NR 115 was unacceptable. “The number one threat to our lakes is over development,” she told the board. “We have a study that proves this. Run off is a major source of pollution and ignoring science is a huge step in the wrong direction.”
Karl Fate, a town of Crescent resident also spoke. “I’m compelled to point out that lakes belong to all of us,” he said. “I am seeing rapidly changing shoreline development. People down below bring their big city ideas up here and there’s a competition to see who can build the biggest mansion on the lake. The impervious surfaces these create lead to run off that pollute.”
But there were others in the crowd that were for striking the impervious requirement in NR 115. “Leaves and pine needles have as much pollution as run-off from a lawn,” said Jay Verhulst, another audience member. “I recommend that you pass this resolution because DNR authority has to be addressed.”
Supervisor Jack Martinson was also for passing the resolution. “I’m sick and tired of this,” he said. “We keep taking things away from property owners. It’s not right.”
Supervisor Scott Holewinski was also for striking the impervious measurement requirement. “Let’s find a way to control impervious run off,” he said. “We can put in place a way to deal with run off but don’t regulate the size of houses built on a piece of property.”
Dave Hintz, a board supervisor, and a member of the Planning and Development Committee that wrote the resolution, signed the proposal acknowledging his approval when the document was created. “I no longer support this,” he said. “It is splitting up the board with the DNR. We can work with the DNR on impervious surfaces. This resolution takes us away from that.”
When the board voted the result was an even tie with supervisors Denny Thompson, Jack Sorensen, Mike Timmons, Holewinski, Greg Berard, Martinson, Gary Baier, Billy Fried, Greg Oettinger and Jerry Shidell voting to pass the resolution. Supervisors Sonny Paszak, Carol Pederson, Jim Intrepidi, Bob Mott, Tom Rudolph, Bob Martini, Hintz, Bob Metropulos, Bob Mott and Candy Sorensen voted no. At that point in the meeting Romelle Vandervest had left so the vote was tied, resulting in the failure of the resolution to pass.
After that the board took a 10 minute break and when they reconvened, Jerry Shidell made a motion to reconsider the vote, meaning the board could revote on the issue if they chose to. By then many of the citizens who had come to talk about this resolution had left. “After talking with people during the break I heard a lot of people had a change of heart,” Shidell said.
Although Shidell’s motion was legal, Board Chairman Ted Cushing said “it was totally wrong” and Fried expressed his distaste for the motion as “despicable.” The board was required to vote on it but the original motion to not pass the resolution stood.
Another topic the board discussed at length was the county’s comprehensive zoning plan. Gary Baier is the chairman of the Comprehensive Planning Oversight Committee. “We have spent three and a half years developing this plan,” he said. “All 20 towns contributed to it. This is what I consider a ‘bottom up’ plan because we took suggestions from towns and went from there.”
The plan outlines not only individual towns’ land use proposals, but also facts and figures concerning Oneida county’s housing statistics, utility and community facilities, transportation stats, economic development proposals, land use applications, implementation of the plan and a public participation agenda. The document contains more than 130 pages including maps that outline such areas as school districts, utility companies, the soil composition of Oneida County and natural resources available. But one map caused concern with audience members and that was the one that illustrated where endangered species, both aquatic and terrestrial, are located within the county.
These areas are designated with multiple colored squares and are vaguely placed over portions of the county on the map. Several audience members were concerned about that fact because the DNR has stricter regulations on areas where endangered species are present as far as land disturbance and development goes. One audience member who was in timber sales, expressed his concern about being able to harvest timber near an area where endangered species are located on the map. “If the maps can’t be completely accurate take them out,” he said.
Supervisor Bob Martini addressed that. “There’s a way to coordinate timber sales when endangered species are involved,” he said. “The wolf was an endangered species and timber sales were allowed. I don’t think this map has a horrendous impact here and in no way effects legitimate development or timber sales. I reject the notion to exclude the maps. We made some progress here and let’s adopt this plan.”
Holewinski disagreed. “These maps aren’t accurate enough for us to adopt in the plan,” he said.
Supervisor Tom Rudolph disagreed with Holewinski. “It would be a mistake for us to make this change without the board being fully informed,” he said. “These are generalized maps that show where these areas may be. If any changes are to be made they need further study. Changing plans right now in a few minutes is a mistake. I move to approve the plan.”
A motion was made to take out the map with only Rudolph and Martini voting no.
In other business the board approved:
• Creating two new economic specialists positions in Social Services;
• Spending $8,500 for outside counsel to deal with a violation of the Oneida County zoning ordinance that would be a conflict of interest with an employee that works in the corporate counsel office;
• Endorsed working with the Oneida County Economic Development Corp. to help establish broadband capabilities in the county;
• Approved tearing down the former Rhinelander Daily News building but no timeline for that was established.