County committee favors smaller boathouses on smaller lakes
Structures could be limited to 336 square feet on lakes less than 500 acres
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Oneida County’s Planning and Development Committee continues to tinker with the allowable square footage for boathouses as it finalizes changes to the county’s zoning and shoreland protection ordinance.
The changes in the county ordinance are being made in response to revisions in state law, for which counties that currently have shoreland zoning ordinance standards more restrictive than established in the applicable state law and regulations can no longer enforce the stricter standards. The county is able to regulate the size of boathouses under the revisions, but can’t prohibit them outright.
The County Board last year initially favored allowing boathouses to be built with a maximum footprint of 1,008 square feet, but in response to concerns expressed at last November’s County Board meeting about the size of boathouses and their possible effects on the environment, the committee then favored including language in the revisions limiting boathouses to 720 square feet.
The committee, which has been going through the proposed ordinance changes with the county’s planning and zoning department, held public hearings Feb. 27 at the Woodruff Town Hall, March 1 in the Three Lakes Town Board Room and March 2 in the County Board Room of the Courthouse in Rhinelander.
Lake association members who attended those public hearings and commented on boathouses found 720 square feet still too large for those structures in the interest of water quality protection. They have noted several other counties, including Vilas, limit boathouses to a smaller square footage.
Last month, all five Planning and Development Committee members favored limiting the maximum square footage on boathouses on lakes that are less than 100 acres and not part of a lake chain to 336 square feet, which would allow a boathouse to be built 14 feet wide and 24 feet deep.
However, town of Sugar Camp resident Dave Noel, who put together a study on how water quality could affect property values in the county, suggested increasing the lake acreage to 500 to include more lakes for which boathouses would be limited to 336 square feet.
At the request of committee chairman Scott Holewinski, Noel compiled a list of lakes in the county that are less than 500 acres. After committee members reviewed that list, they voted Wednesday in favor of limiting new boathouses to 336 square feet on lakes less than 500 acres that are not part of a lake chain or flowage, while keeping the maximum allowable boathouse square footage at 720 on lakes 500 acres and greater or along the Wisconsin River. Committee member Billy Fried cast the lone dissenting vote.
Before a smaller allowable square footage could be approved for boathouses on smaller lakes, however, county corporation counsel Brian Desmond said the committee would have to hold another public hearing.
“Until we get the acreage right (to have smaller boathouses on smaller lakes), we’ve got to keep having a public hearing until we put that acreage on and it passes,” Holewinski said.
Committee members noted they favor holding a single public hearing to do that, rather than three hearings as had been done to consider changes to the zoning and shoreland protection ordinance in general. They agreed to wait until their next meeting April 19 to decide on a date for the public hearing.