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Local Governments and School Districts Blog

New Legislation Limits Government Zoning Regulations

Authored by Dean R. Dietrich
Posted on December 4, 2017
Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

New legislation has been signed by Governor Walker that limits the ability of local governments to control certain zoning regulations and requires greater flexibility in the approval of conditional use permits.  Under 2017 Wisconsin Act 67 which was just signed by Governor Walker, there are new limitations on the ability of a local government unit to enforce zoning regulations.  In particular, the new legislation gives the following protections to property owners:

  • Property owners who own a substandard lot that was considered a buildable lot at the time of purchase may now sell that substandard lot without restriction even though municipal regulations would prevent the use of that substandard lot as a building lot under new zoning regulations.
  • Local government units are restricted in the amount of discretion that can be exercised when considering the granting of a conditional use permit under the local government zoning ordinances.  The appropriate zoning regulation agency must grant a conditional use permit if the property owner complies with the stated requirements for the conditional use which means that the agency cannot exercise discretion as to the reasonableness or appropriateness of the conditional use permit based upon the specific circumstances of the property in question.
  • Other changes are included in this new legislation that limit the right of a local government unit to address zoning issues and grants far greater discretion to the property owner when pursuing compliance with a local government zoning ordinance.

This new legislation is designed to address a recent United States Supreme Court decision that limited the right of a property owner to sell a substandard lot to fund improvements to a building on an adjoining lot.  The legislation has gone much further, however, by limiting the discretion that a local government zoning agency can exercise when considering the granting of a conditional use permit requested by a property owner.  All local government units that are engaged in zoning regulations will need to consider this new legislation and modify how they address conditional use permits.