This page provides property owners and contractors with information about shoreland zoning regulations in Kenosha County.
Projects that require a shoreland review:
Any construction, reconstruction, expansion, replacement, or relocation of impervious surfaces within 300 feet of a navigable body of water (lake, pond, stream). Impervious surface is considered anything other than vegetation, and manmade.
Any new permanent or temporary structures within 300 feet of a navigable body of water.
Any vertical or horizontal expansion of an existing structure within 300 feet of a navigable body of water.
Removal of Trees, Shrubs, or vegetation within 35 feet of the ordinary high water mark of a body of water.
Plat of Survey prepared by a hired licensed professional surveyor showing the following:
- North Arrow.
- Scaled drawing of property lines with dimensions.
- Location and dimensions of all buildings and structures located on the property.
- Location of all impervious surfaces including driveways, stone patios, pavers, steps, landing, decks, and retaining walls.
Impervious surface includes any area that releases as runoff all or a majority of the precipitation that falls on it. Impervious surface excludes frozen soil but includes rooftops, sidewalks, decks, patios, driveways, parking lots, and streets unless specifically designed, constructed, and maintained to be pervious.
Roadways (defined in s. 340.01(54) Wis. Adm. Code) or sidewalks (defined in s. 340.01(58) Wis. Adm. Code) are not considered impervious surfaces. Nor are pump houses for water to irrigate gardens from the lake water, boathouses and steps/stairs not exceeding the minimum width requirement for direct lake access.
Utility transmission and distribution lines, poles, towers, water towers, pumping stations, well pumphouse covers, private on-site wastewater treatment systems that comply with ch. SPS 383, and other utility structures that have no feasible alternative location outside of the minimum setback and that employ best management practices to infiltrate or otherwise control storm water runoff from the structure are not considered impervious surfaces.
- Size of all vegetative areas (grass, mulch).
- Ordinary high water mark location and elevation.
- Delineated 100-year floodplain boundary (if present).
- Contours of existing and proposed grading.
- Additional features may be needed to comply with erosion and mitigation requirements
What are shorelands?
State statute defines shorelands as areas within 1,000 feet of a navigable lake or pond and within 300 feet of a navigable river or stream.
Why regulate shorelands?
In their natural state, shorelands provide critical environmental functions, including water filtration, soil stabilization and habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates that 94% of all aquatic life spends at least part of its life cycle within 30 feet of the shore.
By replacing natural shore cover with pavement, buildings and turf grass, poorly designed development can impair or disrupt these functions, creating severe environmental impacts. Under Section 59.692 of the Wisconsin Statutes, every county in the state must adopt ordinances that regulate development in shorelands. This protects water quality, natural scenic beauty and fish and wildlife habitats. County ordinances must meet or exceed minimum standards established in NR 115, Wisconsin Administrative Code.
What is a "navigable water?"
Navigable waters are defined in the Public Trust Doctrine and state statute. Generally, they include all natural lakes, ponds, rivers and streams (including intermittent streams). Artificial drainages or stormwater conveyances that were not previously natural waterways are generally not considered navigable.
Waters shown in USGS Quadrangle maps, Kenosha County floodplain maps, or the Kenosha County Interactive Mapping Application are presumed to be navigable. The Kenosha County Zoning Administrator or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources can determine whether or not a particular waterway is navigable under state law.
What is the "ordinary high water mark?"
The ordinary high water mark (OHWM) represents the highest point on the shore where the water can be expected to reach each year, such as in spring floods.
During late summer or in a drought, the actual water level might be lower than the OHWM. On the other hand, during a flood, the actual water level might be considerably higher than the OHWM. The OHWM serves as the dividing line between Wisconsin DNR regulatory authority and county shoreland zoning. It is also the measurement point for building setbacks and the vegetative buffer zone.
If you have questions about where the OHWM is located, the County Zoning Administrator or the Wisconsin DNR can set the ordinary high water mark based on field conditions.
Where does the county ordinance apply?
The Kenosha County Shoreland Zoning Ordinance applies only to properties in unincorporated towns. If you are in an incorporated city or village, check with your local zoning agency to determine what regulations apply.
The closer to the water, the more protective the regulations become.
What about wetlands?
Kenosha County ordinance and state and federal law prohibit most construction, ditching or filling within wetland boundaries. The maps of the Wisconsin Wetland Inventory give a good general idea of the location of wetlands across the state. However, maps are no substitute for field delineation to determine precise wetland boundaries.
Please note that if you are proposing a project that is located close to a mapped wetland boundary, you will need a wetland delineation and a location survey to make sure wetland setbacks are met.
- Ordinance Text - Shoreland Regulations Section
- Ordinance Text - Shoreland Non-conforming Structures & Uses Section
- Video - Shoreland Zoning - All 3 parts June 2016
- Video - Shoreland Zoning: A Too to Protect Your Waterfront Investment and Your Lakes Fishery
- Video - Showing What Shoreland Zoning Standards Can Accomplish @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>