Changes to the Existing Vegetative Buffer Zone

Change to Existing Vegetative Buffer Zone

On March 18, 2022, The Wisconsin Legislative Council passed the 2021 Wisconsin Act 200. Under Act 200, if a county shoreland zoning ordinance requires the maintenance of an existing vegetative buffer zone, the ordinance must allow an access and viewing corridor. Vegetative buffers are areas vegetation located between the water and additions to the original waterfront property, such as buildings, driveways, patios, and lawns. The amended statue allows the buffer zone to contain an access and viewing corridor. A county shoreland zoning ordinance may not establish a maximum width along the shoreline for an access and viewing corridor that is less than 10 feet or 35 percent of the shoreline frontage, whichever is greater, except that the ordinance may not permit the width of an access and viewing corridor to exceed 200 feet.

The change is important for the owners of narrow lots on Geneva Lake, Delavan Lake, Lauderdale Lakes, and various other bodies of water that were previously more restricted on their lake views. The prior Walworth County ordinance allowance only allowed 35% removal based on total frontage. This change allows narrow frontages (28 feet or less) to have a 10 foot corridor rather than 35%. Adversely, larger frontages of (572 feet or more) are now restricted to only 200 feet.

Act 200 also now allows for the construction of bridges within the 75 foot shore yard setback.

Walworth County is expected to update its ordinance to meet the new regulations at its May 18, 2023 hearing.