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Forwards Resolution On Shoreland, Wetland Zoning To County Board

Minus the controversial sections on Impervious Surfaces, the Marinette County Land Information Committee voted at a meeting on Monday, Nov. 5 to forward to the County Board a recommendation to pass the amendments to Chapter 21 (Shoreland/Wetland Zoning Code) of the County Ordinances.

This was a decision that was not reached easily or quietly. Over the past two months, three separate Public Hearings were held on the matter, as well as many comments made at Land Information and other county meetings. At least two townships, Middle Inlet and Beaver, also chimed in on the matter with official resolutions opposing NR115 and County Ordinance Code amendments.

A handful of residents were present to state their displeasure with some of the amendments at the Monday meeting.

Gordon Wicklund of the Town of Peshtigo stated he was not in agreement with much of the rule changes, especially since many of the rule changes are presently “on hold” on the state level. While he was against some of the “impervious surface” changes, he also disagreed with other changes being proposed by Land Information.

Herman Pottratz, Town of Peshtigo Chairman, said he could not understand why the Committee was pressing for these changes now. “This foolishness has to stop,” he added. He went on to remind the Committee and the Land Information director they work for the people, not the other way around.

Glen Yeazel, also from the Town of Peshtigo, advised the county should work into this slowly. He also spoke about some of the problems that have developed on the Peshtigo River Reservoir as it is being refilled, especially with the damage caused by floating logs.

Mr. Richter of the Town of Grover felt the state already has too many laws and that these changes were just another way for the DNR to separate people from their land. “This doesn’t make any sense,” he said of the proposed amendments.

With the Public Comment section closed, Land Information Director John Lefebvre took the opportunity to try to clarify a couple of items on the proposed changes. He explained that NR115 had already been adopted by the State two years ago. The counties, he said, now have been given until 2014 to have all of their ordinances changed to reflect state statutes. This is what these amendments to the County Code are intended to accomplish.

Lefebvre also explained in April of this year, the State Legislature enacted Act 170, which contains two rules regarding Shoreland/Wetland Zoning Codes. Rule number one says that counties cannot have a code that is stricter than State Statute. This applies especially to substandard lots and non-conforming structures. Rule number two states that counties cannot have a code that is less restrictive than State Statute.

In the document before the Committee, any references to Impervious Surfaces have been removed because the Legislature has put implementation of those sections on hold. The solution presented to the County Board would not contain any reference to sections put “on-hold” by the state.

Lefebvre went on to speak about how the current differences between the County’s Codes and State Statute often put him and his department in a difficult situation when dealing with landowner questions and plans. He brought up a couple of instances where this has actually happened.

Despite the fact that the Marinette County Board recently went on record opposing NR115, Lefebvre noted that two major sections of the County Code are not in compliance with state law. Rules for non-conforming structures and sub-standard lots (Act 170) have already been passed. They are State Law, and have nothing to do with NR115.

Lefebvre added if the Committee wanted to attempt to change Act 170, they should work with the state legislators in the area on that.

To the matter at hand, the amendments to Chapter 21 (Shoreland/Wetland Zoning Code) of the County Ordinances, the Committee asked several questions.

Being new to the Committee, Supervisor Robert Holley asked several questions of clarification, especially on the topics of building lines, vegetation rules for view and access, enforcement, existing properties, and several others. A couple of other supervisors asked questions as well.

After all the concerns were addressed, Supervisor Joe Policello moved to adopt the amendments and forward them to the County Board for approval at their December meeting. Supervisor Laurence Nichols seconded the motion. The resolution passed with no negative votes.

Scott Reuss updated the Committee on the new event called “Halloween Family Fun Fest” held on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Harmony Arboretum, sponsored by the UW-Extension. The event went exceptionally well, with an estimated attendance of just under 250 people.

Reuss estimated that more than half of the attendees had never been to the Arboretum before, and in that sense, was very positive for awareness. He added that many families expressed appreciation for the event since it was oriented more toward the younger kids and not a “scary” event for older people. Plans are being made to expand the event even more for next year.

Ruess expressed appreciation for all of the work that went into the fest and the many donations, especially pumpkins.

The Committee approved forwarding to the County Board an agreement between the County and the Lake Noquebay Rehabilitation District for operation of the dam in that location for calendar year 2013. This is a yearly contract renewal. The county owns the dam and is responsible for maintenance and operation costs. The District takes care of its operation, a contract cost of $3000 per year.

Conservationist Greg Cleereman mentioned some of the controversy involved with this dam because the lake level is reduced during the winter. Lefebvre added that ideally the County would like to have the District take over ownership of the dam and its operation, but it doesn’t appear it will happen this year.

Lefebvre updated the Committee on efforts that have taken place in the last year regarding the perpetuation of Public Land Survey System monuments in danger of being damaged or destroyed by road construction activities. This work is contracted out every year and the company comes in to replace the marker monuments in their exact locations after road construction work. The monuments mark section divisions on all public lands. Lefebvre explained this is a very interesting process and the purpose it serves.

The Bids for the rental of 126 acres (over six parcels) of Harmony Arboretum cropland were opened. There were three bidders. The highest bidder was chosen for each parcel. R&R Farms of Pound was high bidder on parcels 1 and 3. Jandt Farms of Peshtigo was high bidder on parcels 2, 5 and 6. Identical bids from R&R and Jandt were received on parcel 4. Jandt was awarded the parcel by the casting of lots. The rentals will bring just over $19,000 into the county coffers in 2013.

R&R will be asked if they still want the two parcels they won. If not, they would revert to the second high bidder, which is Jandt Farms. In an effort to avoid a split award in future years, the Committee decided that all future bidding be done on the totality of acres, not individual fields.

Reuss presented the Committee with the 2012 Marinette County Wildlife Damage Program Crop Prices. For the most part, prices were down for corn, oats, wheat, barley, and pumpkins and prices were up for soybeans, hay, and other forages. Vegetable prices were about the same.

Reuss explained these prices are usually about a year behind because of the market year they follow. With the drought and near drought conditions in the state and Midwest, program prices are expected to rise considerably more next year.




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