Land Use & Resource Management (LURM)

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Conservation Planning
Sanitation Zoning
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Conservation

Q. I think I have Gypsy Moths. What should I do?

A.  There are a number of bristly, or tufted, caterpillars that are often mistaken for the gypsy moth. The gypsy moth caterpillar can be identified by five pairs of blue dots followed by six pairs of red dots down the length of back. The head is yellow and the entire body is covered with long hairs. By the end of June they are 1" - 2" long. They do not build silk tents.

Management includes applying barrier bands around trees in April-May, applying burlap collection bands June-July, and pesticide treatments such as Bacillus thuringiensis (BTK) applied on young caterpillars mid May-early June when they are about 1/2" long or Golden Pest Spray Oil on the egg masses in late fall or winter. For more information or to report an infestation contact Chrissy Regester, UW-Extension Horticulture Educator at christine.regester@ces.uwex.edu or (262)-741-4951, for photos and more information visit
http://gypsymoth.wi.gov/ 

Q. What trees do gypsy moths prefer to feed on?

A.  They favor all oak trees, apple, basswood, big-tooth and quaking aspen, gray, paper, and river birches, box elder, larch (or tamarack), mountain ash, lombardy poplar, willow, all pines (expect scotch), all spruces, hemlock, chestnut. They also favor alder, crabapple, hawthorn, hazelnut, hop hornbeam (or ironwood), serviceberry, sumacs, and witch hazel.

Q.  I want to build a pond. Do I need a County Permit?

A. Yes, a County Zoning Permit and a County-approved Land Disturbance and Erosion Control Plan and Permit is required for any pond construction project in Walworth County. Pond Construction must meet County Conservation Standards and County Zoning Standards.

County Pond Standards specifically restrict the construction of location and dimension of ponds in wetlands. If a pond is permitted in a wetland, it can not impair the functional values of the existing wetland. Only shallow wildlife ponds can be constructed in wetlands. Other standards apply for any pond construction in wetlands.

A permit or plan approval must also be obtained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for pond construction connected to or near other bodies of water or in wetlands. DNR Ponds Link

Sanitation - Top of Page   Back to List

Planning - Top of Page   Back to List

Q. What are the procedures for obtaining a rezone or conditional use?

A.  Click for answer -> INFORMATION ON REZONE AND CONDITIONAL USE PROCEDURES

Q. How exactly does the process for a rezone or conditional use proceed?

A.  Click for answer -> REZONE AND CONDITIONAL USE PROCESS FLOWCHART

Zoning - Top of Page   Back to List

Q. What Ordinances do Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management regulate?

A. Zoning Ordinance, Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, Sanitary Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance, Erosion Control and Storm Water Management Ordinance, Non-metallic Mining Ordinance, Telecommunication Tower Ordinance, Animal Waste Management Ordinance, and Citation Ordinance.

Q. When is a Zoning Permit required?

A. A zoning permit is required for any construction, addition or alteration of any structure, within the County’s jurisdiction, including but not limited to sheds, carports, decks, patios, porches, dormers, towers, new or replacement retaining walls, entrance pillars and gates, shoreyard stairs and landings, and shoreland vegetation removal or grading.  A structure is defined as anything constructed or erected.  Single Family Residences or other principle structures on a parcel, additions, roof alterations, accessory structures (greater than 100 square feet in size), and signs are included. In addition, in the shoreyard (75' from a lake or stream) permits are required for patio's, retaining walls, boathouses, stairways, and tree and brush removal.  Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses with the County’s zoning jurisdiction.

Q. What if I am only replacing what is there?

A. A Zoning Permit is required even if the structure exists and the person is replacing it.

Q. What is the process for applying for a zoning permit?

A. A zoning permit application form must be completely filled out and a plat of survey (prepared by a registered land surveyor showing all existing and proposed structures) shall be attached to the permit application, including the required fee (Zoning Fees). Any construction started without permit approval will be charged a double fee. Additional supporting materials may be required for certain projects such as building plans, grading plans, existing and proposed contours, etc. Zoning permits are valid for two (2) years. If your zoning permit is denied, the applicant has 30 days to appeal the denial to the Walworth County Board of Adjustment (Variance Application). Depending on the request, additional reviews of the proposed project may be required by the Walworth County Zoning Agency, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, (SEWRPC) Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, etc.

Permit process outline:
1.    
Apply for Zoning Permit and any other applicable County Permit (i.e., Erosion Control Permit,   
        Sanitary Permits, Address Request).
2.     The Code Enforcement Officer reviews the permit.
3. 
    The permit is either issued or denied.
   
     a.     If the permit is issued, the property owner must obtain a Building Permit through the 
                appropriate Township Building Inspector.
   
     b.     If the permit is denied, the owner may either amend their plan to meet with the Ordinance 
                provisions and submit the new plan for reconsideration; or apply for a variance.
4.    Construction may commence.
5.    The Zoning Permit will require one of the following:
   
     a.     an updated plat of survey within 30 days of backfilling the foundation,
   
     b.     an inspection of the project upon backfilling,
   
     c.     or the submittal of a waiver form
It is important to read the permit card and comply with any condition of approval. Please remember; it is ultimately the property owner's responsibility to comply with any conditions of the permit as issued!
6.     Submit the required survey, waiver, or call for an inspection.

Q. Is a permit required for a fence?

A. No, a permit is not required from Walworth County, provided the fence does not exceed 6 feet in the street, side, and rear yards, or 4 feet in the shore yard. A fence is required to be located at least 2 feet from the right of way and is not permitted to be greater than 2 ½ feet in height in the vision triangle of an intersection. (Fence Regulation Diagram) A fence in the shoreyard is not permitted to be a barrier to wildlife. Please contact the appropriate Code Enforcement Officer for further guidance and explanation of these regulations.

Q. Do I need a permit from the Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department for my construction, land disturbance or vegetation removal project?

A. Yes. Many construction and related activities require some type of permit from the Zoning, Sanitation and Land Conservation Division if the property is located with the County’s zoning jurisdiction (see jurisdiction explanation below) Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses with the County’s zoning jurisdiction.

Q. Why does the County require an inspection or an updated survey be submitted even though the Building Inspector inspects the construction?

A. The Walworth County Zoning and Shoreland Zoning Ordinances regulate land use and setbacks from property lines to structures. The Building Inspector at the Township level reviews and inspects construction relative to compliance with the State of Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code. Simply stated, the Zoning office and the Building Inspector regulate two distinctly different regulations, therefore, different conditions of approval are required.

Q. How do I find out what zoning district my property is zoned?

A.  There are several options to choose from:

          1.     Visit our website and utilize the Interactive Mapping System
                  - Interactive Mapping Link           

2.     A code enforcement officer may be able to assist you over the phone if 
        enough property information is provided.  At a minimum, the tax key 
        number is required.

3.     Come into the office and look on the aerial maps. They have the zoning 
        and shoreland marked on them.

4.     Make an appointment with a code enforcement officer.

5.     If you need the zoning in writing, there is a form to be completed and a 
        $50.00 fee charged.

If your property is within the County’s zoning jurisdiction ("Jurisdiction" explanation below), it has been designated by a particular zoning district. Each district outlines the zoning requirements (ex. Permitted uses, conditional uses, setback requirements, lot area and width requirements, etc) that are applicable to each zoning district. There are 30 different zoning districts in Walworth County ranging from Agricultural, Residential, Conservation, Park, Business, and Industrial. You will need to have the tax key number of the property to determine the location of the property thereby determining the zoning district designation. Maps are available in our office to assist in determining the zoning classification on your property. Call our office (262) 741-4972 for assistance.

Q. What areas are in the County’s zoning jurisdiction?

A. Walworth County currently has county wide zoning jurisdiction, including those Shoreland and/or Floodplain areas (1000 feet from a lake and/or 300 feet from any other navigable body of water or floodplain whichever is greater). The County’s zoning jurisdiction does not include cities or villages. You should contact the appropriate municipality for their zoning requirements.

Q. What Walworth County permits will I need to construct a single family residence?

A. A zoning permit application, which regulates where the residence is placed on the property. A sanitary permit, which regulates where, what type and size of septic system is being installed on the property. An erosion control permit, which regulates what land will be disturbed, for how long and how will it be stabilized during construction. The Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department reviews and issues all three permits together to assure fewer problems in the construction process. Once the County permits are issued the applicant shall contact the appropriate Town for the applicable Town Building Permit. Town Building Inspectors

Q. When is the office open?

A. The Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department has office hours Monday though Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Q. Do I need an appointment to apply for a permit?

A. Permit applications can be submitted in person or by mail. If the applicant would prefer a zoning staff member’s time to look at the permit prior to submittal, appointments are recommended, but walk-in hours are also available. The phone number for the Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department is (262) 741-4972.

Q. Where is the Land Use and Resource Management Department located?

A. NOTE: See HOME PAGE The office is located at he Government Center (old Courthouse) 100 West Walworth Street, Elkhorn, Wisconsin 53121. The reception area is at the top of the central stairway on the second floor. 

Q. Where can I obtain my tax key number?

A. Your tax key number can be found in the upper right corner of your Real Estate Tax Bill.

Q. Where can I find the legal description of my property?

A. The legal description can be found on a copy of the plat of survey for the property, or a less descriptive legal description can be found on a copy of your property tax bill.

Q. Do I need a permit to cut/remove trees on my property?

A. Yes, the County has regulations regarding tree/vegetation that can be removed and how much vegetation can be cut in the Shoreland and Floodplain jurisdictional areas, (1,000 feet from a lake, pond or flowage, and/or 300 feet from any other navigable body of water or in its floodplain whichever is greater). Please contact our office for a determination as to whether or not any of the above regulations apply to your property prior to removing any vegetation on your property.

Q. Can I store unlicensed and/or inoperable vehicles on my property?

A. No, the Walworth County Code of Ordinances strictly prohibits the storage of more than one (1) unlicensed and/or inoperable vehicle on properties within the County’s zoning jurisdiction. Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses with the County’s zoning jurisdiction.

Q. Do I need a permit to operate a home occupation from my residential property?

A. Yes, Walworth County requires conditional use review and approval. (Conditional Use form) Please contact our office for a detailed explanation of these regulations prior to commencing a home occupation or professional home office.

Q. Is more than one dwelling unit allowed on a property?

A. In general, more than one dwelling unit on a property is not permitted. The zoning ordinances provide for this type of use under limited circumstances based on the zoning district the property is located in. Please contact our office for an explanation of these specific regulations.

Q. Can I have an In-law unit or a Guest House on my property?

A. In general, more than one dwelling unit on a property is not permitted. The zoning ordinances provided for conditional use review of planned residential developments in certain zoning districts based on minimum lot area requirements. Please contact our office for an explanation of these specific regulations.

Q. Can I have a mobile home on my property?

A. The mobile home would have to have at least 22’ x 22’ minimum core living area and be placed on an enclosed foundation to be permitted in an area that would permit a single family residence. Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses with the County’s zoning jurisdiction.

Q. Does the County issue permits for piers and other structures placed on the bed of a water body?

A. No, the County does not issue permits for private piers. Contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at (262) 574-2100 and/or the Town for any permit requirements. The Commercial use of a pier may require Walworth County review and approval.

Q. Can I have a boathouse on my property?

A. The Shoreland Zoning Ordinance permits boathouses provided it is not a wet boathouse, shall not be located on lands having a slope of 12 percent or greater, shall be located to as to minimize earth disturbing activities and shoreland vegetation removal, shall be designed exclusively for the storage of watercraft and related marine equipment and shall not be used for human habitation or commercial purposes. A boathouse with rooms above or within, used for purposes other than the storage of watercraft and related marine equipment, shall not be deemed to be a boathouse. Fireplaces, patio doors, plumbing, heating, cooking facilities, or any features inconsistent with the use of the structure exclusively as a boathouse are not permitted in or on boathouses. The highest point of the roof elevation of the boathouse shall not be more than 14 feet in height measured from the lowest finished grade along the structure to the highest roofline of the structure, including the roofs of architectural projections. The boathouse shall not exceed 400 square feet in horizontal area covered, and shall not be closer than three feet to any side lot line. Railings are not permitted on top of the boathouse, nor shall roofs be designed to provide general outdoor living space, i.e. as a deck. Only one boathouse is permitted on a lot.

Q. How many accessory structures can I have on my property?

A. Walworth County zoning does not limit the number of accessory structures but limits the total square footage of all accessory structures on a parcel. The square footage limitations are based on lot area. Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations.

Q. I have a vacant piece of land. Can I construct an accessory structure, without a residence, on the parcel?

A. No. Only Agricultural zoned land can have agricultural related structures on a parcel without a residence. Please contact our office for further explanation of these regulations.

Q. Can I have horses on my property?

A. Walworth County Zoning permits horses on lands zoned A-1, A-2, A-3, A-5, and C-2. Any building that has animals in them is required to be 100 feet from all property lines. Please contact our office for further explanation of these regulations.

Q. What if I have a sub-standard lot or structure?

A. If you have a lot or structure that is sub-standard, please contact our office for an explanation of the regulations that may apply to your particular situation.

Q. What if I have a legal non-conforming structure?

A. If you have a structure that is legal non-conforming, please contact our office for an explanation of the regulations that may apply to your particular situation.

Q. Who do I contact for regulations governing land divisions (subdivisions and certified survey maps)?

A. Walworth County has plat review authority for land divisions in Walworth County. The County also administers the Walworth County Subdivision Control Ordinances. Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations and the County’s subdivision review authority prior to commencing any land division.

Q.  I want to build a pond. Do I need a County Permit?

A. Yes, a County Zoning Permit and a County-approved Land Disturbance and Erosion Control Plan and Permit is required for any pond construction project in Walworth County. Pond Construction must meet County Conservation Standards and County Zoning Standards.

County Pond Standards specifically restrict the construction of location and dimension of ponds in wetlands. If a pond is permitted in a wetland, it can not impair the functional values of the existing wetland. Only shallow wildlife ponds can be constructed in wetlands. Other standards apply for any pond construction in wetlands.

A permit or plan approval must also be obtained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for pond construction connected to or near other bodies of water or in wetlands. DNR Ponds Link

Important Note:

The County also regulates commercial, industrial, signage, telecommunication towers and quarry operations as well as public and institutional uses. Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses with the County’s zoning jurisdiction.

The above information relates to the County’s zoning ordinances only. Please check with your local Town to determine if there are other regulations that may apply.  Municipalities

In the event it is determined that there is a violation of the Walworth County Code of Ordinances, the property owner will be required to correct the violation or face the penalties outlined in the ordinances, including the issuance of citations. Citations may be issued for each violation of the ordinance and each day a violation exists is a separate violation.

There are also other procedures that are not covered in this section. If you have a questions about something not covered herein, please feel free to contact us.

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