, 219 Wis. 2d 654
(1998), a landowner may contest whether he or she is in violation of the zoning ordinance and, if so, can further contest on equitable grounds the enforcement of a sanction for the violation. Town of Delafield v. Winkelman, 2004 WI 17
, 269 Wis. 2d 109
, 675 N.W.2d 470
A municipality cannot be estopped from seeking to enforce a zoning ordinance, but a circuit court has authority to exercise its discretion in deciding whether to grant enforcement. Upon the determination of an ordinance violation, the proper procedure for a circuit court is to grant an injunction enforcing the ordinance, except when it is presented with compelling equitable reasons to deny it. Village of Hobart v. Brown County, 2005 WI 78
, 281 Wis. 2d 628
, 698 N.W.2d 83
An existing conditional use permit (CUP) is not a vested property right and the revocation of the permit is not an unconstitutional taking. A CUP merely represents a species of zoning designations. Because landowners have no property interest in zoning designations applicable to their properties, a CUP is not property and no taking occurs by virtue of a revocation. Rainbow Springs Golf Company, Inc. v. Town of Mukwonago, 2005 WI App 163
, 284 Wis. 2d 519
, 702 N.W.2d 40
Zoning that restricts land so that the landowner has no permitted use as of right must bear a substantial relation to the health, safety, morals, or general welfare of the public in order to withstand constitutional scrutiny. Town of Rhine v. Bizzell, 2008 WI 76
, 311 Wis. 2d 1
, 751 N.W.2d 780
Having a vested interest in the continuance of a use is fundamental to protection of a nonconforming use. There can be no vested interest if the use is not actually and actively occurring at the time the ordinance amendment takes effect. However, it does not follow that any use that is actually occurring on the effective date of the amendment is sufficient to give the owner a vested interest in its continued use. To have a vested interest in the continuation of a use requires that if the continuance of the use were to be prohibited, substantial rights would be adversely affected, which will ordinarily mean that there has been a substantial investment in the use. The longevity of a use and the degree of development of a use are subsumed in an analysis of what investments an owner has made, rather than separate factors to be considered. Town of Cross Plains v. Kitt's “Field of Dreams" Korner, Inc., 2009 WI App 142
, 321 Wis. 2d 671
, 775 N.W.2d 283
There must be reasonable reliance on the existing law in order to acquire a vested interest in a nonconforming use. Reasonable reliance on the existing law was not present when the owners knew the existing law was soon to change at the time the use was begun. Town of Cross Plains v. Kitt's “Field of Dreams" Korner, Inc., 2009 WI App 142
, 321 Wis. 2d 671
, 775 N.W.2d 283
The town board's recommendation on a form that was signed by the town board and clerk and dated but not certified as a resolution by the town clerk did not effectively satisfy the statutory elements of a certified copy of a resolution under sub. (5) (e) 3. Although the legislature intended the town board to serve as a political check on the otherwise unfettered discretion of the county board in wielding its legislative zoning power, it prescribed a specific procedure by which towns perform that function. Johnson v. Washburn County, 2010 WI App 50
, 324 Wis. 2d 366
, 781 N.W.2d 706
When a village eliminated the selling of cars as a conditional use in general business districts, a previously granted conditional use permit (CUP) was voided, the property owner was left with a legal nonconforming use to sell cars, and the village could not enforce the strictures of the CUP against the property owner. Therefore, the owner could continue to sell cars in accordance with the historical use of the property, but if the use were to go beyond the historical use of the property, the village could seek to eliminate the property's status as a legal nonconforming use. Hussein v. Village of Germantown Board of Zoning Appeals, 2011 WI App 96
, 334 Wis. 2d 764
, 800 N.W.2d 551
A county has the authority under both subs. (1) and (4) and s. 59.70 (22) to enact ordinances regulating billboards and other similar structures. When a town approves a county zoning ordinance under sub. (5) (c) that includes a billboard ordinance, the town's billboard ordinance adopted under s. 60.23 (29) does not preempt a county's authority to regulate billboards in that town. Adams Outdoor Advertising, L.P. v. County of Dane, 2012 WI App 28
, 340 Wis. 2d 175
, 811 N.W.2d 421
A municipality has the flexibility to regulate land use through zoning up until the point when a developer obtains a building permit. Once a building permit has been obtained, a developer may make expenditures in reliance on a zoning classification. Wisconsin follows the bright-line building permit rule that a property owner's rights do not vest until the developer has submitted an application for a building permit that conforms to the zoning or building code requirements in effect at the time of application. McKee Family I, LLC v. City of Fitchburg, 2017 WI 34
, 366 Wis. 2d 329
, 873 N.W.2d 99
The building permit rule is a bright-line rule vesting the right to use property consistent with current zoning at the time a building permit application that strictly conforms to all applicable zoning regulations is filed. The rule extends to all land specifically identified in a building permit application as part of the project. Golden Sands Dairy LLC v. Town of Saratoga, 2018 WI 61
, 381 Wis. 2d 704
, 913 N.W.2d 118
Whether an association has authority to maintain an enforcement action under sub. (11) is not based upon the law of standing itself, but rather on the text of the statute. In this case, a lake association did not fall within the statutory categories of individuals that may maintain an action to enforce a county ordinance, and it had no authority to bring an enforcement action under sub. (11). Carlin Lake Ass'n v. Carlin Club Properties, LLC, 2019 WI App 24
, 387 Wis. 2d 640
, 929 N.W.2d 228
A party pursuing an enforcement action under sub. (11) need not wait until a county zoning violation has actually occurred before seeking an injunction. Instead, the party must show a “sufficient probability” that a county zoning ordinance violation will occur. Carlin Lake Ass'n v. Carlin Club Properties, LLC, 2019 WI App 24
, 387 Wis. 2d 640
, 929 N.W.2d 228
The following factors are relevant to a court's determination of whether it is equitable to enjoin a violation of a county zoning ordinance: 1) the interest of the citizens of the jurisdiction that has established the zoning requirements in enforcing the requirements; 2) the extent of the zoning violation; 3) whether the parties to the action have acted in good faith; 4) whether the violator of the zoning requirements has available any other equitable defenses, such as laches, estoppel, or unclean hands; 5) the degree of hardship compliance with the zoning requirements will create; and 6) what role, if any, the government played in contributing to the violation. Carlin Lake Ass'n v. Carlin Club Properties, LLC, 2019 WI App 24
, 387 Wis. 2d 640
, 929 N.W.2d 228
Nothing in sub. (11) reanimates void conditions. Landowners therefore enjoy no better footing than a county in an attempt to enforce unlawful conditions. Enbridge Energy Co. v. Dane County, 2019 WI 78
, 387 Wis. 2d 687
, 929 N.W.2d 572
Wisconsin law requires two elements for abandonment of a legal nonconforming use: 1) actual cessation of the nonconforming use; and 2) an intent to abandon the nonconforming use. In this case, the property owner sought and obtained rezoning from agricultural to residential; entered into a subdivision development agreement restricting the property to residential use; recorded a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions that explicitly stated that the property owner intended to develop a subdivision for residences; installed residential infrastructure; and built two homes on the property. Although the property owner's specific acts may have signified an intent to abandon the nonconforming use, the undisputed fact that the property owner continued farming on the property after the rezoning confirmed that there was no actual cessation of the nonconforming use. Village of Slinger v. Polk Properties, LLC, 2021 WI 29
, 396 Wis. 2d 342
, 957 N.W.2d 229
The fact that a county is within a regional planning commission does not affect county zoning power. 61 Atty. Gen. 220.
Discussing the authority of a county to regulate mobile homes under this section and other zoning questions. 62 Atty. Gen. 292.
Zoning ordinances utilizing definitions of “family" to restrict the number of unrelated persons who may live in a single family dwelling are of questionable constitutionality. 63 Atty. Gen. 34.
Under s. 59.97 (5) (c) [now sub. (5) (c)], town board approval of a comprehensive county zoning ordinance must extend to the ordinance in its entirety and may not extend only to parts of the ordinance. 63 Atty. Gen. 199.
A county that has enacted a countywide comprehensive zoning ordinance under this section may not authorize the withdrawal of town approval of the ordinance or exclude any town from the ordinance. 67 Atty. Gen. 197.
The office of county planning and zoning commission member is incompatible with the position of executive director of the county housing authority. 81 Atty. Gen. 90
An amendment to a county zoning ordinance adding a new zoning district does not necessarily constitute a comprehensive revision requiring town board approval of the entire ordinance under s. 59.97 (5) (d) [now sub. (5) (d)]. 81 Atty. Gen. 98
A county's power under sub. (4) is broad enough to encompass regulation of the storage of junked, unused, unlicensed, or abandoned motor vehicles on private property. Because sub. (10) protects “trade or industry," a county zoning ordinance could prohibit an existing non-commercial, nonconforming use or a use that is “casual and occasional." OAG 2-00
A county's minimum lot size zoning ordinance applies to parcels created by a court through division in a partition or probate action, even if such division would be exempted from a municipality's subdivision authority under s. 236.45 (2) (am) 1. OAG 1-14
A county is not prohibited from imposing elements of its general zoning ordinance in the shorelands in a town even if the town has not adopted the county's general zoning ordinance under sub. (5) (c), so long as those elements are consistent with s. 59.692. OAG 1-19
A county's application of its comprehensive zoning ordinance to fee simple land held by tribal members within a reservation violates federal Indian law. Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Bayfield County, 432 F. Supp. 3d 889
Zoning Law: Architectural Appearance Ordinances and the First Amendment. Rice. 76 MLR 439 (1993).
Required notice on certain approvals. 59.691(2)(a)(a)
Except as provided in par. (b)
, a county that issues a building permit or other approval for construction activity, shall give the applicant a written notice as specified in subs. (3)
at the time the building permit is issued.
A county is not required to give the notice under par. (a)
at the time that it issues a building permit if the county issues the building permit on a standard building permit form prescribed by the department of safety and professional services.
A county is not required to give the notice under par. (a)
at the time that it issues a building permit or other approval if the building permit or other approval is for construction activity that does not involve any land disturbing activity including removing protective ground cover or vegetation, or excavating, filling, covering, or grading land.
Each notice shall contain the following language: “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMPLYING WITH STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS CONCERNING CONSTRUCTION NEAR OR ON WETLANDS, LAKES, AND STREAMS. WETLANDS THAT ARE NOT ASSOCIATED WITH OPEN WATER CAN BE DIFFICULT TO IDENTIFY. FAILURE TO COMPLY MAY RESULT IN REMOVAL OR MODIFICATION OF CONSTRUCTION THAT VIOLATES THE LAW OR OTHER PENALTIES OR COSTS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES WETLANDS IDENTIFICATION WEB PAGE OR CONTACT A DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SERVICE CENTER."
The notice required in sub. (2) (a)
shall contain the electronic website address that gives the recipient of the notice direct contact with that website.
A county in issuing a notice under this section shall require that the applicant for the building permit sign a statement acknowledging that the person has received the notice.
Zoning of shorelands on navigable waters. 59.692(1)(a)
“Department" means the department of natural resources.
“Shorelands" means the area within the following distances from the ordinary high-water mark of navigable waters, as defined under s. 281.31 (2) (d)
One thousand feet from a lake, pond or flowage. If the navigable water is a glacial pothole lake, this distance shall be measured from the high-water mark of the lake.
Three hundred feet from a river or stream or to the landward side of the floodplain, whichever distance is greater.
“Shoreland setback area" means an area in a shoreland that is within a certain distance of the ordinary high-water mark in which the construction or placement of structures has been limited or prohibited under an ordinance enacted under this section.
“Shoreland zoning standard" means a standard for ordinances enacted under this section that is promulgated as a rule by the department.
“Structure" means a principal structure or any accessory structure including a garage, shed, boathouse, sidewalk, stairway, walkway, patio, deck, retaining wall, porch, or fire pit.
To effect the purposes of s. 281.31
and to promote the public health, safety and general welfare, each county shall zone by ordinance all shorelands in its unincorporated area. The requirements in this ordinance shall relate to the purposes in s. 281.31 (1)
. This ordinance may be enacted separately from ordinances enacted under s. 59.69
An ordinance enacted under this section may not regulate a matter more restrictively than the matter is regulated by a shoreland zoning standard.
does not prohibit a county from enacting a shoreland zoning ordinance that regulates a matter that is not regulated by a shoreland zoning standard.
A county shoreland zoning ordinance may not require a person to do any of the following:
Establish a vegetative buffer zone on previously developed land.
A county shoreland zoning ordinance may require a person to maintain a vegetative buffer zone that exists on July 14, 2015, if the ordinance also does all of the following:
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.
Allows a viewing corridor to run contiguously for the entire maximum width established under subd. 1.
If a professional land surveyor licensed under ch. 443
, in measuring a setback from an ordinary high-water mark of a navigable water as required by an ordinance enacted under this section, relies on a map, plat, or survey that incorporates or approximates the ordinary high-water mark in accordance with s. 236.025
, the setback measured is the setback with respect to a structure constructed on that property if all of the following apply:
The map, plat, or survey is prepared by a professional land surveyor, licensed under ch. 443
, after April 28, 2016. The same professional land surveyor may prepare the map, plat, or survey and measure the setback.
The department has not identified the ordinary high-water mark on its Internet site as is required under s. 30.102
at the time the setback is measured.
The department may not impair the interest of a landowner in shoreland property by establishing a shoreland zoning standard, and a county may not impair the interest of a landowner in shoreland property by enacting or enforcing a shoreland zoning ordinance, that does any of the following:
Requires any approval to install or maintain outdoor lighting in shorelands, imposes any fee or mitigation requirement to install or maintain outdoor lighting in shorelands, or otherwise prohibits or regulates outdoor lighting in shorelands if the lighting is designed or intended for residential use.
Except as provided in par. (b)
, requires any approval or imposes any fee or mitigation requirement for, or otherwise prohibits or regulates, the maintenance, repair, replacement, restoration, rebuilding, or remodeling of all or any part of any of the following if the activity does not expand the footprint of the structure:
A structure of which any part is legally located in the shoreland setback area by operation of a variance granted before July 13, 2015.
A building or structure in violation of a county shoreland zoning ordinance that, under sub. (1t)
, may not be enforced.
Except as provided in pars. (b)
, requires any approval or imposes any fee or mitigation requirement for, or otherwise prohibits or regulates, the maintenance, repair, replacement, restoration, rebuilding, or remodeling of all or any part of a structure listed under sub. (1n) (d)
that was legally constructed wholly or partially within the shoreland setback area if the activity does not expand the footprint of the existing structure.
Requires any inspection or upgrade of a structure before the sale or other transfer of the structure may be made.
Requires any approval or imposes any fee or mitigation requirement for, or otherwise prohibits or regulates, the vertical expansion of a nonconforming structure or a structure of which any part is legally located in the shoreland setback area by operation of a variance granted before July 13, 2015, unless the vertical expansion would extend more than 35 feet above grade level.
Prohibits placement in a shoreland setback area of a device or system authorized under par. (am) 1.
The department may not impair the interest of a landowner in shoreland property by establishing a shoreland zoning standard, and a county may not impair the interest of a landowner in shoreland property by enacting or enforcing a shoreland zoning ordinance, that establishes standards for impervious surfaces unless all of the following apply:
The standards provide that a surface is considered pervious if the runoff from the surface is treated by a device or system, or is discharged to an internally drained pervious area, that retains the runoff on or off the parcel to allow infiltration into the soil.
If the standards allow a greater amount of impervious surface on areas with highly developed shorelines than areas with shorelines that are not highly developed, as determined by the department, the standards also require an area with highly developed shorelines to include at least 500 feet of shoreline and require that one of the following applies:
The area is composed of a majority of lots with more than 30 percent impervious surface area, as calculated by the county and approved by the department.
The area is composed of a majority of lots that are less than 20,000 square feet in area.
A county shoreland zoning ordinance shall allow an activity specified under par. (a) 2.
to expand the footprint of a nonconforming structure, a structure listed under sub. (1n) (d)
, or a structure of which any part is legally located in the shoreland setback area by operation of a variance granted before July 13, 2015, if the expansion is necessary for the structure to comply with applicable state or federal requirements.
A county shoreland zoning ordinance may prohibit an activity specified under par. (a) 2m.
from expanding a structure listed under sub. (1n) (d)
beyond the 3-dimensional building envelope of the existing structure.
Nothing in this section prohibits the department from establishing a shoreland zoning standard that allows the vertical or lateral expansion of a nonconforming structure.
Nothing in this section prohibits a county from enacting a shoreland zoning ordinance that allows the vertical or lateral expansion of a nonconforming structure if the ordinance does not conflict with shoreland zoning standards established by the department.