Water quality vs. economics?
5:26 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

DNR Holds Hearing On Impervious Surface Rules

A Wisconsin lake
A Wisconsin lake
Credit wislakes.com

The DNR heard from citizens Thursday in Tomahawk on proposed changes to it's shoreland zoning rules. Called NR-115, the rules...in collaboration with counties.. govern development along shorelines. The rules were revised in 2010 and county administrators said they were too burdensome to enforce. The revisions are now out for public comment.

The Tomahawk hearing was to take input on vegetation management, impervious surfaces, non-conforming structures and reporting standards. Hard surfaces cause water and nutrients to run into lake water. The impact of the runoff has been debated for years.

Among the speakers were....

Vilas county zoning administrator Dawn Schmidt...

"...we've had many of these rules in place now for 13 years...the 15 percent and 30 percent impervious surface rules...we've also had mitigation in place for 13 years. The lakes controversy is very small. We have one or two people a year who come in and complain about the impervious surface rules..."

Bob Martini of Rhinelander said he felt the rules were based on science that after a certain point, runoff affects the lakes water quality. The water quality affects property values. He says property values are key to local economics...

"...for example, property values are directly related to the quality of the lakes. There are many townships in northern Wisconsin where lake assessed value is the majority of the property value in their assessment...."

The new rules also take into effect how regulation affects the local economics. Bill Harold from Phillips says if regulations get too strict, people won't come to the Northwoods...

"....as the generations have evolved, a lot of second and third generation people are coming up to the area, they're tearing down those cabins. They're building nicer homes, they're expanding their lots...that has a big economic impact...."

Comments will be accepted by the DNR until September 5. More information on the changes is on their website.