Archive for July, 2015

Residency Requirements? Don’t sell the house just yet.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

In June of 2013, the state legislature enacted a statute generally prohibiting municipal residency requirements, with a few exceptions. In July of 2013, the City of Milwaukee Common Council voted to enforce the City’s residency requirements, despite the new state law, because the Wisconsin Constitution gives cities and villages home rule over local affairs and residency is primarily a matter of local concern. Shortly thereafter, the Milwaukee Police Association, et al, sued the City, claiming the state law preempted the City residency requirement. The circuit court held that the state law trumped the City residency requirement.

The City appealed. Although the new statute (§ 66.0502) stated it was a matter of statewide concern, saying so and actually being so are two different things. The appeals court analyzed the effect of the new law on municipalities, and analyzed the Constitutional grant of home rule over local affairs, and held that the statute violated both the uniformity and the statewide concern provisions of Article art. XI, § 3.(1), of the state Constitution.  You can read the full text of the appellate decision here.

It is quite possible the police union, et al, will appeal to the Supreme Court, so this decision may not be the final word. Also, town officials should keep in mind that home rule is only granted to cities and villages by the Constitution, not to towns. So the decision does not change the residency prohibitions for towns.

Shoreland Zoning Law Revised

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

As anyone who follows the news knows, Governor Walker recently signed the new budget.  And as anyone who follows politics knows, a number of items make it into the budget bill that, to the lay observer, seem to have nothing to do with the state budget.

The new budget, Section 1922 on pages 336 and 337, changed the law on shoreland zoning to limit a county’s regulatory power within shoreland zoning areas.  Some of the changes are:

  • Counties may not regulate a matter more restrictively than the DNR standards found in NR 115. Prior to this, counties could be more restrictive in a number of areas.
  • Counties may not require a person to establish a vegetative buffer zone in an area that was previously developed.
  • Allows a landowner to have a 35 foot wide viewing area in those areas where a vegetative buffer is required.
  • Expanded a landowner’s ability to repair and rebuild a nonconforming structure within the existing footprint of an existing nonconforming structure.

The new law also affects village and city shoreland zoning, but only in areas that were annexed after 1982 – (see Wis. Stats.  61.353 and 62.233).

The full budget act can be viewed from the state legislature website.