A local water advocate says a public hearing this week in Rhinelander is an opportunity to be heard on shoreland zoning changes.
Wednesday, Oneida County Planning and Development is hosting the hearing at the county courthouse to hear input on changes to it's shoreland protection ordinance. Counties have complained that they lost the right to put stronger restrictions on shoreland protection after the legislature stripped the counties of that, instead saying a uniform and less restrictive DNR code would be established.
Bob Martini of Oneida County Lakes and Rivers Association says there are places were the state law still allowed some local authority....
"....in every instance where the Planning and Development committee did have local authority they chose to make the shoreland protection ordinance less protective instead of more protective, and we object to that...."
Martini says boathouse size is an example. Water advocates don't like hard surfaces like roofs providing runoff directly into lakes and rivers.
"....state law, as done by the legislature and made worse, in our opinion says you have to allow boathouses, but it doesn't say how large they have to be. This committee started with over a thousand square feet, they dropped it to 730. The average statewide is about 350. Why do we need boathouses twice the size of the average of all the other counties...?"
Martini says a second example is allowing a five foot buffer instead of the current 25 feet from wetlands. Property rights advocates said the new state laws give local property owners more rights for their land. Water advocates say the new provisions make it easier to pollute.
The committee's regular meeting begins at 1 p.m. with the public hearing set for 2 p.m. at the Oneida County courthouse.