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The County's jurisdictional area includes all of the Towns of Brighton, Paris, Randall, Somers and Wheatland. The County is also contracted to administer zoning jurisdiction responsibilities for the Village of Salem Lakes and the Village of Somers. The County's zoning jurisdiction does not include the City of Kenosha, the Villages of Bristol, Paddock Lake, Pleasant Prairie, Silver Lake or Twin Lakes.
However, it should be noted that lands formerly under the County's Shoreland Zoning Jurisdiction that have been annexed by a City or Village after May 7, 1983, are required to continue to comply with the County's Shoreland regulations unless the City or Village in which it is now located adopts an Ordinance at least as restrictive as the County's Shoreland Ordinance. You should contact the appropriate municipality for their zoning requirements.
If you have a question as to whether or not a property is within the County's zoning jurisdiction, please contact the Kenosha County Department of Planning & Development at (262) 857-1895 with a tax key number or property address and we will assist you.
You can find out how your property is zoned by contacting a land use specialist with the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development, visiting the department office to view a zoning map, or using the county’s interactive mapping application.
To find out what zoning district your property is in, you can...
A list of the applicable zoning classifications within the jurisdiction of the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development is shown on our Zoning Districts page.
A stakeout survey is a document prepared by a licensed professional land surveyor showing the boundaries and dimensions of your property and the proposed location and size of a building/structure with setback distances shown from the property lines.
You can learn more about Wisconsin Professional Land Surveyors here.
As with everything you purchase, you need to know exactly what you are buying. A survey, prepared by a professional land surveyor, will show in detail exactly what you have purchased. Since for most people, the purchase of a home is their single largest investment, they should make every effort to protect that investment. The survey will confirm that the property shown by the real estate agent and described in the contract is in fact the property that was conveyed.
Also, the bank or mortgage company, in order to protect their interest in the property, may require a new survey. You can hire a professional surveyor to complete a plat of survey of your property or search the Kenosha County Land Survey Viewer Database to see if we have a survey for your property in our database.
A survey will let you know where the structures are and the distance they are located from the property lines. You can contact the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development for more information on required setback distances.
Besides helping you visualize exactly what the property looks like and contains, your survey gives you a type of protection. In addition to highlighting any encroachments, it will help identify any other irregularities that may result in legal disputes sometime in the future. The new survey enhances your title insurance policy.
The surveyor assumes full professional responsibility for the accuracy of the survey and therefore may serve as an expert witness in court. A plat of survey must be stamped by the professional land surveyor who prepared it. You can hire a professional surveyor to complete a plat or use search the Kenosha County Land Survey Viewer Database to see if we have a survey for your property in our database.
The Land Information Office is the “repository” of all surveys done in Kenosha County. You can search the Kenosha County Land Survey Viewer Database to see if we have a survey for your property in our database. You may also contact us at (262) 653-2622, and we will check our records to see if there is a survey on file. The cost of a copy of a survey is 0.25 cents if it is picked up at our office or $1.00 if it is faxed.
The Land Information Office has no knowledge of what areas have been surveyed. Surveys are required to be filed according to State Statute 59.45(1)(b). Surveyors record their surveys on their own volition. Although, there are fines associated with failure to file. As such, a survey may have been completed but may not be on record with the Land Information Office.
A foundation survey is essentially a plat of survey prepared by any licensed professional land surveyor. It will let you know where the structures are and the distance they are located from the property lines. You can contact the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development regarding required setback distances.
The most common foundation survey is the required survey that is prepared once the foundation for a new home is placed in the ground. This survey is done to verify to the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development that the home was built in the location where it was permitted.
A waiver of liability of foundation survey is a legal document signed by the property owner that states they are waiving the requirement to immediately hire a professional surveyor to complete a foundation survey showing the built location of the structure on the property. The legal document states that the owner is aware of the zoning codes and is building the permitted structure according to those codes (size, height, setbacks etc...). The waiver of liability will act as a temporary lien and remain on the property title until such time that it is removed. Usually when a property owner sells their property is when the wavier will be required to be released. In order for a waiver of liability document to be valid it must be recorded with the Kenosha County Register of Deeds. A small recording fee is required (payable to the “Register of Deeds”).
NOTE: Effective early 2019, property owners in the unincorporated parts of Kenosha County are no longer permitted to sign a waiver of liability of foundation survey document. As a condition of their zoning permit for new home construction, residential additions, detached accessory buildings, etc., code will require a professional surveyor be hired to update the plat of survey of the property to verify the location and size of the permitted structure. These requirements do not apply to permitted accessory uses that are not buildings, for instance, pools, decks and fences. While waivers are no longer allowed, this question remains on this FAQ page due to the number of previously signed and recorded waivers that still are on title against properties across the County and will ultimately need to be released.
NOTE: Effective early 2021, property owners in the Village of Somers are no longer permitted to sign a waiver of liability of foundation survey document. As a condition of their zoning permit for new home construction, residential additions, detached accessory buildings, etc., code will require a professional surveyor be hired to update the plat of survey of the property to verify the location and size of the permitted structure. These requirements do not apply to permitted accessory uses that are not buildings, for instance, pools, decks and fences. While waivers are no longer allowed, this question remains on this FAQ page due to the number of previously signed and recorded waivers that still are on title against properties across the County and will ultimately need to be released.
As per section 12.05-4(a) of the zoning ordinance, any person erecting, moving, enlarging or reconstructing a structure, which, under this ordinance, requires a zoning permit shall upon completion of the construction of footings, concrete slab or other foundations, submit to the Department of Planning and Development a survey prepared by a professional land surveyor showing the locations, boundaries, dimensions, elevations and size of the following: The boundaries of the lot, all existing structures (including foundations) and their relationship to the lot lines. The Director of Planning and Development shall compare the location of all new or extended foundations with the location of all proposed construction activity reported on the permit application. No further construction may commence unless the Director of Planning and Development shall find that the foundation location is consistent with the permit as issued and shall so certify. Failure to comply with the requirements of this section shall be grounds for the issuance of a citation. Construction of a principal structure, such as a single-family residence or primary commercial building will require that the property owner hire a professional surveyor to prepare a foundation survey to be submitted to the Department of Planning & Development. In cases where a residential addition or detached accessory structure is built, then the property owner may waive their requirement to have the foundation survey completed immediately by a hired professional surveyor. If the property owner decides to waive the foundation survey requirement, then a Waiver of Liability Due Date will be placed on the issued zoning permit document. This due date is a mutually agreed date that the property owner intends to have a signed/notarized waiver of liability form and recording fee returned to Planning & Development in order to fulfill the paperwork requirement.
A new buyer or lending institution will see the waiver of liability on the title search and will not want to assume liability for a structure they did not build. They will most likely ask for the wavier to be removed from the title. To do this, a professional land surveyor must be hired to complete a current plat of survey showing the size and location of the structure the wavier was signed for. This new plat of survey is then submitted to the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development where it is compared to the conditions of the zoning permit for which it was issued. If the plat of survey shows that the building was constructed in the proper location, and there are no other violations existing on the property, then a release of waiver of liability document is prepared and given to the property owner/agent to file with the Register of Deeds. A small preparation fee is required (payable to "Kenosha County”). When and only when a release of waiver document is filed with the Register of Deeds does it cancel out the original waiver of liability of foundation survey document. A small recording fee is required (payable to the “Register of Deeds”).
A variance is a request to vary dimensional standards (not uses), such as building setbacks in the zoning ordinance. At the hearing, you must prove:
Once approved and any conditions are met, variances stay with the land and do not expire unless stipulated otherwise. Please refer to our Variances web page for more detailed information or contact a Land Use Specialist at (262) 857-1895.
Kenosha County does not enforce an animal ordinance. For regulations regarding the type and number of animals allowed on a property, we suggest contacting your local township or village office. To get contact information regarding municipal offices, visit our Links web page.
When it comes to land use planning and zoning, the Department of Planning and Development does not have jurisdiction within the county's incorporated cities and villages. However, it does provide contracted services to administer these services for properties within the Village of Somers.
If you need information about the zoning of your property, about getting a building permit, or any other specific land use or building question, you must contact the city/village in which your property lies. To get contact information regarding municipal offices, visit our Links web page.
A setback is defined as the distance between a street line and the front building line of a principal building or structure, projected to the side line of the lot, and including driveways and parking areas, except where otherwise restricted by this ordinance.
A common misconception is that setback distances and setback requirements are taken from the centerline of the road or the edge of the pavement. This is false.
All setbacks are taken from the actual property line, located between your front property pins (pipes). If this line cannot be accurately located in the field, we suggest contacting a professional land surveyor to complete a boundary survey and accurately locate the property lines for you.
The zoning district applicable to “100-year floodplain” zoning is the FPO Floodplain Overlay District.
An ordinary high water mark (OHWM) is defined as "the point on the bank or shore up to which the presence and action of the water are so continuous as to leave a distinct mark either by erosion, destruction of terrestrial vegetation, or other easily recognized characteristic." An OHWM is present only on navigable waterways, lakes, and rivers. The DNR is the only agency allowed to determine and confirm OHWM elevations and whether a waterway is deemed "navigable."
If you are interested in having an OHWM determination made on your property or investigating if a waterway is navigable, please contact the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development at (262) 857-1895.
You can also learn more by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.
Wetland determinations and delineations must be completed by a qualified consultant and be verified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
If you are interested in having a wetland determination/delineation done on your property, please contact the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development at (262) 857-1895.
The zoning district applicable to “wetland” zoning is the C-1 Lowland Conservancy Zoning District.
A Zoning Permit is required when a structure or part thereof is located, erected, moved, reconstructed, extended, enlarged, converted or structurally altered within the unincorporated Towns of Brighton, Paris, Randall, Somers and Wheatland or within one of the villages for which Kenosha County contracts zoning services (such as the Village of Salem Lakes and the Village of Somers). A structure is defined as anything constructed or erected. New structures and additions to such structures require a Zoning Permit including but not limited to:
NOTE: In the shore yard (75' from a lake or stream), a shoreland permit is required for retaining walls, rip-rap or shore protection (fill over 10 yards) and excavations such as ponds. Please contact the Department of Planning & Development at (262) 857-1895 for an explanation of these regulations relative to these types of uses within the department's zoning jurisdiction.
Yes, please refer to our Fences web page for more information.
Yes, please refer to our Decks web page for more information.
Yes, a zoning permit is required to build, install, or alter any pool. This includes in-ground, above-ground, temporary inflatable/metal frame soft sided pools and hot tubs. Please refer to this handout for the ordinance requirements related to swimming pools and hot tubs.
In the case of an in-ground pool, there shall be erected and maintained a good quality safety fence not less than four feet in height completely surrounding the pool or surrounding the yard in which the pool is located.
In the case of an above-ground pool or temporary inflatable/metal frame soft sided pool, either a good quality safety fence of not less than four feet in height shall completely surround the pool or surrounding yard in which the pool is located or the total wall height of the pool and surrounding deck/railing must be at least six feet above yard grade.
Latching/locking gates shall be installed on all fences/gates in order to prevent unauthorized entry.
In the case of a spa/hot tub, a locked safety cover meeting American Society for Testing Materials Specifications may be used, or a spa must be completely enclosed in a structure with locking windows and doors.
Yes, please refer to this handout on ordinance requirements related to signs.
The Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development does not issue permits for tree removal. However, regulations are in place to limit tree/shrub clearing near waterways.
Section 12.18-2 of the Zoning Ordinance states: 12.18-2 Tree Cutting and Shrubbery ClearingThe cutting of trees and shrubbery shall be regulated to protect natural beauty, control erosion and reduce the flow of effluents, sediments and nutrients from the shoreland area. In the strip of land 35 feet wide inland from the ordinary high water mark, no more than 30 feet in any 100 feet (30%) shall be clear-cut. In shoreland areas more than 35 feet inland, trees and shrubbery cutting shall be governed by the consideration of the effect on water quality and consideration of sound forestry practices and soil conservation practices. The tree and shrubbery cutting regulations required by this paragraph shall not apply to the removal of dead, diseased or dying trees or shrubbery. Paths and trails shall not exceed ten (10) feet in width and shall be so designed and constructed as to result in the least removal and disruption of shoreland cover and the minimum impairment of natural beauty.
In addition to regulations limiting tree/shrub clearing near waterways, woodlands are protected under the C-2 Upland Conservancy District zoning classification: The C-2 Upland Resource Conservancy District is intended to preserve, protect, enhance and restore all significant woodlands, areas of rough topography, and related scenic areas. Regulation of these areas will serve to control erosion and sedimentation and will promote and maintain the natural beauty of Kenosha County. Tree clearing is prohibited in the C-2 Upland Conservancy District except for the construction of a driveway and permitted structures, removal of dead and diseased vegetation and removal of invasive species.
If you should have questions regarding the integrity of your woodlands or the species thereon, feel free to contact the county Conservation Planner at the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development at (262) 857-1895.
Please keep in mind the need for a sanitary permit for New Residential Construction and potentially a septic system evaluation for Additions to Existing Structures.
NOTE: Triple fees shall be charged if work has started prior to applying for the appropriate permit.
Zoning permits for minor structures, such as residential decks and fences or outbuildings, can generally be issued right away on a first come, first serve basis, assuming all zoning issues are addressed in the application. You can expect the process to take about a half hour or less. Please ensure that if you send an agent or contractor to pull the permit for you that he/she is informed of the proposed project well enough to answer any questions the Land Use Specialist may have during the permitting process. If you wish to speak with a Land Use Specialist, please call (262) 857-1895.
You should expect to wait about five working days from the date of application for larger projects, such as new residential/commercial construction, residential/commercial additions, sign permits, antenna co-locations, etc. It is highly recommended that you speak face to face with a Land Use Specialist when dropping off your application packet to ensure that all issues have been addressed.
Be aware that the zoning code allows up to thirty days for the office to formally approve or deny a zoning permit application. Below is an excerpt from the zoning ordinance regarding time limits for review.
12.05-3 Time LimitsAll permits, except conditional use permits and stipulated shoreland permits, shall be granted or denied in writing, within 30 days after application, by the Office of Planning and Zoning Administration. All stipulated shoreland permits shall be granted or denied within 60 days after application, unless the time is extended by mutual agreement. The applicant shall post any permit granted in a conspicuous place at the site. All zoning permits shall expire within 18 months. Any permit issued in conflict with the provisions of this ordinance shall be null and void.
Please refer to the fee schedule for a complete list of fees for the Kenosha County Department of Planning & Development.
If your zoning permit is about to expire and you have not completely framed and shelled the entirety of the structure, then you must renew your original zoning permit with the Office of Planning and Development. To do so, please contact a Land Use Specialist at (262) 857-1895.
For smaller projects, such as residential decks and fences or outbuildings, an appointment is not usually required. Zoning permits for these structures can generally be issued right away on a first come, first serve basis, assuming all zoning issues are addressed in the application. You can expect the process to take about a half hour or less. Please ensure that if you send an agent or contractor to pull the permit for you that he/she is informed of the proposed project well enough to answer any questions the Land Use Specialist may have during the permitting process. If you wish to speak with a Land Use Specialist, please call (262) 857-1895.
Setting up an appointment is recommended when submitting an application for larger projects, such as new residential/commercial construction, residential/commercial additions, sign permits, antenna co-locations, etc. Permits of this type can generally be issued within five working days, assuming all required application information has been presented, and issues, such as sanitation and site plan review, have been addressed.
Be aware that the zoning code allows up to thirty days for the office to formally approve or deny a zoning permit application. It is highly recommended that you speak face to face with a Land Use Specialist when dropping off your application packet to ensure that all issues have been addressed.
A tax key number for a property can be found on your tax bill. They can also be found by using the county’s interactive mapping application. If you have the full address house number and street, or the street and ownership name as it appears on the tax bill, you can contact the Office of Planning and Development to obtain a tax key number.
Tax key number prefixes within the jurisdiction of the Kenosha County Planning and Development Office are listed below.
However, Kenosha County does regulate the storage of vehicles in conjunction with a permitted business use. For instance, conditional use permits authorizing the placement of a towing business or auto garage may detail where vehicles may be stored outside on a property (site plan review).
In-laws quarters construction is reviewed on a case by case basis by staff.
To determine if your property is within the 100-year floodplain, you can use the county’s interactive mapping application.
The Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development does prepare formal floodplain determination letters for a fee. This letter includes both federal and local data in the determination. If you are interested in obtaining a formal floodplain determination letter, please contact a Land Use Specialist at (262) 857-1895.
A boathouse is an accessory use used strictly for the storage of boats and water-related recreational accessories to be used by the owner or occupant of the parcel. One boathouse is permitted for each property fronting on navigable bodies of water having riparian rights.
Boathouse requirements are listed in the accessory buildings section of the zoning ordinance. For more information and ordinance requirements, visit the Accessory Buildings page.
The number of accessory buildings allowed on a property is dependent on the size and zoning classification of that property. Accessory building guidelines, such as number, size, and height restrictions, can be found in the accessory buildings section of the zoning ordinance.
For more information and ordinance requirements, visit our Accessory Buildings web page or view the Accessory Building Regulations handout.
The size of accessory buildings allowed on a property is dependent on the size of the property and the zoning classification of that property. Other factors that can affect the size and location of an accessory structure include well location, septic location, and natural resource features, if applicable.
Accessory building guidelines such as number, size, and height restrictions, can be found in the accessory buildings section of the zoning ordinance and on the Accessory Building Regulations handout.
Typically, a legal non-conforming lot may not meet the lot frontage and/or lot area requirements required under the current zoning code, whereas a legal non-conforming structure may not meet the minimum size and/or location requirements specified under the current zoning code.
We suggest you speak directly with a Land Use Specialist regarding any work you may be considering to a non-conforming structure. A Land Use Specialist can be reached at (262) 857-1895.
There are four main components to a zoning permit application for new home construction. The applicant needs...
Visit our New Residential Construction web page for more information and procedures.
To place a new business in an existing structure, the property owner must undergo a site plan review and obtain a certificate of compliance from the Kenosha County Department of Planning and Development.
A certificate of compliance authorizes a certain business operation to be run from a parcel. Certificates are used to ensure that the intended use of the property and/or building is allowed under the zoning district for which the parcel is placed and that any negative elements of the business use are mitigated in accordance with zoning ordinance requirements.
For instance, the B-2 Community Business District is intended to provide for the orderly development of business activities, such as retail stores, office buildings, and services, in the center of communities and settlements throughout Kenosha County. Businesses placed within this district tend to be quieter, more passive business uses that do not require outside storage or operational facilities. The B-2 Community Business District does not allow the placement of businesses, such as contractor yards and freight forwarding services (these business uses are permitted in the B-5 Wholesale Trade and Warehousing District).