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Walworth County jurisdiction includes all, or portions of, the 16 Towns in the county. The County's jurisdiction does not include non-shoreland extraterritorial zoning around the city of Elkhorn, Village of Williams Bay, and Village of Fontana. The County's jurisdiction does not include non-shoreland areas in the Town of Bloomfield. The County's zoning jurisdiction does not include cities or villages. You should contact the appropriate municipality for their zoning requirements.
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The following ordinances are regulated:
A zoning permit is typically required for any construction, addition or alteration of any structure, within the County's jurisdiction, including but not limited to:
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 feet from a lake or stream) permits are required for:
Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses with the County's zoning jurisdiction.
A Zoning Permit is typically required even if the structure exists and the person is replacing it.
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 (PDF)). 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 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 (PDF)). Depending on the request, additional reviews of the proposed project may be required by the:
No, a zoning permit is not required from Walworth County, provided the fence does not exceed 6 feet in height. A fence is required to be located at least 2 feet from the right of way, at least 75 feet from a waterbody, and is not permitted to be greater than 2.5 feet in height in the vision triangle of an intersection (Fence Regulation Diagram (PDF)). Please contact the appropriate Code Enforcement Officer for further guidance and explanation of these regulations.
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. Please contact our office for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses with the County's zoning jurisdiction.
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.
There are several options to choose from:
To learn how to find your zoning, click here
If your property is within the County's zoning jurisdiction, it has been designated by a particular zoning district. Each district outlines the zoning requirements (example: Permitted uses, conditional uses, setback requirements, lot area and width requirements, etc.) that are applicable to each zoning district. There are 31 different zoning districts in Walworth County ranging from:
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.
To learn what the different zoning districts mean, click here
Maps are available in our office to assist in determining the zoning classification on your property. Call our office 262-741-4972 for assistance.
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.
View Town Building Inspectors (PDF).
The Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department has office hours on Monday though Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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 application 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.
The office is located at the:Government Center (Old Courthouse)100 W Walworth Street2nd FloorElkhorn, WI 53121
The reception area is at the top of the central stairway on the second floor.
Your tax key number can be found on your Real Estate Tax Bill.
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.
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.
No, the Walworth County Code of Ordinances strictly prohibits the storage of more than one 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.
Yes, Walworth County requires filing as a minor home occupation or 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.
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.
In general, more than one dwelling unit on a property is not permitted. The zoning ordinances provide 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.
The mobile home would have to have at least 22 by 22 feet 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.
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.
The Shoreland Zoning Ordinance permits boathouses provided it is not a wet boathouse. The boathouse 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. Features inconsistent with the use of the structure exclusively as a boathouse are not permitted in or on boathouses such as:
The boathouse 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. Please contact our office for explanations of other size and location regulations.
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.
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.
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 side and rear property lines. Please contact our office for further explanation of these regulations.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, a County Zoning Permit and a County-approved Land Disturbance and Erosion Control Plan and Permit are 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.