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DNR announces changes in shoreland zoning

State officials say their proposed changes in lakeside zoning rules won't solve all the problems caused by growing development, but they'll go a long way.

Tuesday, the Department of Natural Resources announced its first changes in Wisconsin's shoreland zoning regulations in more than four decades.

The state's Association of Lakes says the changes represent 40 years of experience in protecting shorelines. Development groups also supported the changes at the DNR's news conference.

For the first time, the size of non-grassy areas like driveways would be limited to reduce the amount of runoff going into the lakes, thus preserving water quality and aquatic life.

A 75-foot setback for new buildings would continue. But landowners would be able to improve existing structures which are closer to the water, something they have not been able to do since 1968 if the improvements represent more than 50 percent of the property's value.

Officials from the state realtors' and builders' associations called the current limits confusing and many landowners didn't like it.

To preserve vegetation, new developments could only have 15 percent of their lots covered with things like driveways and roofs.

Additions to existing lots could have a total of 30 percent covered by hard surfaces, but land owners would have to take other steps to prevent runoff.

The Natural Resources Board will act on the changes June 24 when it meets in New Richmond.