Zoning Code | General Requirements

Air Pollution Land uses need to comply with applicable regulations in the zoning code with regard to air emissions and also those in s. 11-6-3(1) of the municipal code.

See s. 8-128 of the zoning code.
Archaeological Resources Archaeological sites and human burial sites, including cemeteries and Indian mounds, are protected under various state laws. If you encounter artifacts or human remains when developing your property, you should stop any related work and contact the Wisconsin Historical Society to get more information and guidance with regard to applicable requirements. Go to Wisconsin Historical Socitety website.
Bufferyards If a parcel abuts another parcel that is in a different zoning district, special requirements for bufferyards may apply. Bufferyards typically include landscaping and/or a fence and are intended to provide a visual screen and additional separation between potentially incompatible land uses.

See Division 2 of Article 16 of the zoning code to see when a bufferyard is required and related standards.
Building Codes The City has adopted various building codes, including the Commercial Building Code, Electrical Code, State Uniform Dwelling Code, and Plumbing Code.

Refer to Chapter 1, Title 15, of the municipal code for more information or contact the City Building Inspector.
Building Coverage Building coverage is used to control how much of a lot is built upon and will vary from zoning district to zoning district. Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards.

See s. 8-68 of the zoning code for more details and a description of how building coverage is measured.
Building Height The maximum height of new buildings and additions are regulated to ensure they are compatible with the character of the zoning district in which they occur. Maximum building height will vary from district to district, so check out the differences. The height of a building is measured from the lowest finished grade at the building line to the highest point of the roof. 

Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards.

See s. 8-67 of the zoning code, which includes features that can extend higher than the rest of the buidling.
Building Separation An accessory building shall be erected or otherwise placed on a lot so that it is at least 10 feet to the principal building on the lot, without a firewall. See s. 8-74 of the zoning code.
Change in Topography Modifying the existing grade of a lot within 20 feet of a property boundary line may be subject to certain limitations. These standards help to avoid situations where one property owner causes negative impacts to surrounding properties. 

See s. 8-124 of the zoning code for more details.
Corner Visibility The City has established standards for corner visibility to ensure that motorists and pedestrians are able to see one another at street intersections. To maintain proper visibility, standards control what types of structures and landscaping may be placed in these areas. The size of these areas is dictated by the nature of the intersecting streets. As a general rule, more visibility (and a larger area) is needed at those intersections where travel speeds are higher. See s.8-76 of the zoning code.
Development Agreement For development projects that involve the installation of public improvements, the developer and the City can nter into a development agreement. This agreement is a private contract that addresses the rights and responsibilities of the developer and the City regarding the installation and acceptance of the improvements. Although a development agreement is a private contract, it is a public record.
Downtown Design Overlay District A Downtown Design Overlay District has been established to preserve and enhance the aesthetic qualities (historical and visual) in the downtown area. See Article 14 of the zoning code for all of the standards that may apply.
Establishment of Building Grades The first floor elevation of a new building that is erected or otherwise placed on a lot shall be set at a grade approved by the city building inspector. In establishing the building’s grade, the building inspector should consider the grade of other buildings in the immediate area, effects on drainage, and safe vehicular access. If the building, in whole or in part, is located within the 100-year floodplain, the first floor elevation shall comply with requirements set forth in Division 1 of Article 9 of the zoning code.

See s. 8-122 of the zoning code.
Financial Guarantee In some instances the City may require a developer to provide a financial guaranty to ensure the performance of an obligation related to a development project. In some circumstances, a developer can provide a financial guarantee for the installation of landscaping because it is not possible because of inclement weather. As more fully discussed in the section cited below, a financial guarantee may take various forms as approved by the City. Examples include a non-revocable letter of credit or a cash deposit.
Fire Lane Large industrial buildings may require a fire lane around the entire building or along one or more sides. This is required so that the fire department is able to respond to and fight a structural fire.

Be sure to contact the building inspector to see if a fire lane is needed.
Floodplain Overlay District As required by state statues, the City established a Floodplain Overlay District to control land use and development with the 100-year floodplain areas. As with all of the other overlay districts, development must comply with the underlying zoning district and the overlay district (Article 9 of thezoning code). The strictest of the regulations shall control.
Garage Area The size of residential garages are controlled in one or more of the residential zoning district to ensure that garages do not become a dominant element on the lot or in relation to the size of the dwelling. 

Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards.
Historic Resources The City of Washburn established a historic district in 2014 pursuant to the procedures and requirements set forth in Chapter 4, Title 14 of the municipal code. The location of the district is depicted on the zoning map for the City.
Impervious Surface Impervious coverage is a measure of how much of the lot is not able to absorb stormwater. It is the ratio of the total of all impervious surfaces to the net lot area, typically expressed as a percent. Standards are used to control the amount of impervious surface so that stormwater does not cause damage to infrastructure, buildings, and the natural environment, or endanger public safety. Standards have been established for each of the zoning districts and range from 10 percent in some of the residential areas to 100 percent in the downtown area.

Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards. See s. 8-69 of the zoning code for all of the details and a description of how impervious surface areas are measured.
Lake Frontage Lots that front on Lake Superior must be at least 100 feet wide at the ordinary high-water mark. See s. 8-65 of the zoning code.
Land Divsions All new lots in the City must comply with the zoning standards and the land division regulations which are found in Title 14 of the municipal code.
Landscaping Multi-family, commercial, and industrial projects are generally required to provide some level of landscaping. Typically, this involves plantings around the building, within the interior of the lot, within parking lots, and along the street. See Article 16 of the zoning regulations.
Licensing Some kinds of land uses must obtain and maintain a license that may be issued at the local level or by the county or state. While there may be some overlap between zoning and licensing requirements they are intended to focus on different aspects of the business operation. Any required license must be obtained prior to the establishment of the land use and maintainted for the life of the use.
Liquor Licensing If you are opening a restaurant or a tavern, be sure to check out Chapter 2, Title 7 of the municipal code for requirements related to liquor licenses.
Lot Area Lots need to meet the minimum size requirements for the zoning district in which they are located. Any parcel created by a land division that is authorized by the City is exempt from the minimum lot area requirements if such parcel is to be dedicated to the public or used for stormwater facilities or other types of development-related infrastructure or common open space, including walking and recreation trails. Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards. Also see s. 8-62 of the zoning code.
Lot Width Lots must have a minimum width that meets the standard established for the zoning district in which it is located. Lot width is measured along an imaginary line generally parallel to the front lot line at the front yard setback line. Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards.

See s. 8-63 of the zoning code for more details and a diagram that shows how lot width is measured.
Nonconforming Lots A nonconforming lot is a lot that complied with all requirements at the time it was created but no longer complies with current requirements. In general, a nonconforming lot may be used for an allowable use, provided such use complies with all other development standards of the zoning district in which the lot is located.

The location of a property boundary line of a nonconforming lot cannot be modified by any means, except when the new property boundary line location will make the nonconforming lot to be conforming or lessen the nonconformity. Any such change in a property boundary location must be reviewed and approved by the Plan Commission.See s. 21-3 of the zoning code.

This website has a database of known nonconforming lots. Click to open. There you can search by address or tax key number.
Nonconforming Signs A nonconforming sign is a sign that complied with all standards at the time it was establish but does not now comply with one or more standards. Section 21-7 of the zoning code addresses how nonconforming signs may be used. 

This website has a database of known nonconforming signs. Click to open. There you can search by address or tax key number. (v. 1.0)
Nonconforming Structures A nonconforming structure is a structure that complied with all dimensional standards at the time it was built or expanded but does not now comply with dimensional standards. A nonconforming structure that is used for a conforming use may be enlarged provided the portion of the structure being added complies with all applicable development standards, including offset, setback, and building height standards. If a nonconforming structure is damaged by violent wind, vandalism, fire, flood, ice, snow, mold, or infestation on or after March 2, 2006, it may be restored to its condition (size, location, and use) prior to the damage, except the structure may be larger when necessary to comply with state or federal requirements. See s. 21-4 of the zoning code for more details.

This website has a database of known nonconforming structures. Click to open. There you can search by address or tax key number.
 
Nonconforming Uses A nonconforming use is a land use that at the time it was established complied with the zoning requirements but no longer complies with current requirements. In general, a nonconforming use (1) is allowed to continue, (2) may not be expanded, (3) may not be moved to any other part of the lot or to another structure, (4) cannot be reestablished if the use ceases to operate for 12 months, and (5) must comply with licensing requirements if required to do so. A change in the method or quantity of production and the incorporation of new technology into a nonconforming use is permitted provided the original character of the use remains the same.

The structure that houses a nonconforming use is subject to a number of limitations. First, structural alterations to a structure housing a nonconforming use cannot exceed, on an accumulative percentage basis, 50 percent of the equalized assessed value of the structure. Secondly, if a structure housing a nonconforming use is damaged beyond 50 percent of its present equalized assessed value, the nonconforming use may not be reestablished.  

In the event the zoning administrator determines that a nonconforming use, regardless of its duration, is harmful to the public health, safety, or welfare, he or she shall follow the procedure outlined in Article 7 of this code relating to termination of a use. See s. 21-5 of the zoning code for additional details.

This website has a database of known nonconforming uses. Click to open. There you can search by address or PIN number.
 
Noxious odors Land uses need to comply with applicable regulations in the zoning code with regard to noxious odors and also those in s. 11-6-3(h) of the municipal code.

See s. 8-127 of the zoning code.
Other Approvals The person undertaking a development project has the responsibility to obtain all applicable permits and other approvals as may be required by the city and the county, and federal and state authorities as may be required. In other words, don't assume that because you have city approval no other permitting is required. See s. 6-16 of the zoning code.
Outdoor Lighting The zoning code establishes various standards for outdoor lighting to minimize light pollution and light trespass. Table 19-1 is a good place to start reviewing the applicable standards.
Outstanding Payment(s) No permit or approval of any kind may be granted under the zoning code that would benefit a parcel for which taxes, assessments, special assessments, or other required payments are delinquent and unpaid. See s. 6-11 of the zoning code. 
Outstanding Violation(s) If the zoning administrator determines that a parcel is in violation of the zoning code, no permit or approval of any kind may be granted under the zoning code that would benefit such parcel, except to correct the violation or as may be required by state law. See s. 6-10 of the zoning code.
Placement of an Accessory Building on a Lot As a general rule, detached accessory buildings need to be located behind the most recessed portion of the front (i.e., face of the building closest to the street) of the principal building. In the case of a corner lot, the accessory building needs to meet the minimum setback requirements from all streets. Only accessory buildings for agricultural uses are permitted in front of the principal building.

In some cases, the Plan Commission may approve a special exception to allow an accessory building in front of the principal building. In making such decision, the Plan Commission needs to consider (1) the size of the subject property, (2) the character of the area, (3) the size of the accessory building, (4) the extent to which the proposed accessory building is visible from public and private streets and other properties in the area, and (5) other factors related to relevant circumstances. See s. 8-75 of the zoning code.
Residential Floor Area A building intended in whole or part for residential purposes must have a floor area meeting the minimum area requirements specified for the zoning district in which the dwelling is located. Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards. Also see s. 8-70of the zoning code.
Security Alarms Buildings with alarm systems are subject to the requirements in Chapter 4, Title 5 of the municipal code.
Setbacks Buildings and other features must be located on a lot so as to comply with the setbacks established for the various zoning districts. Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards. Also see 8-66 of the zoning code that describes how setbacks are measured and when setback averaging can be use.
Shoreland Overlay Zoning District As required by state statues, the City established a Shoreland Overlay District to control vegetation removal within 35 of the water's edge and placement of buildings. See Article 13 of the zoning code.
Shoreland-Wetland Overlay Zoning District As required by state statues, the City established a Shoreland-Wetland Overlay District. Certain wetlands are regulated within the shoreland area which includes land within 1,000 feet of the ordinary high-water mark of navigable lakes, ponds, or flowages and within 300 feet of the ordinary high-water mark of navigable rivers or streams, or to the landward side of the floodplain, whichever distance is greater. See Article 11 of the zoning code.
Site Restrictions If the zoning administrator determines that a parcel of land, whether vacant, partially developed, or fully developed, contains one or more development constraints that would preclude the normal use of the parcel for a use that is otherwise permitted in the zoning district in which it is located, he or she shall render a written determination that states the best available facts related to the development constraint and other reasoning as may be appropriate. Examples of development constraints include unfavorable topography, rock formations, shallow depth to bedrock, unstable or otherwise unsuitable soils, stormwater runoff, inadequate drainage, and high groundwater.

Once such a determination has been made, the zoning administrator, building inspector, or other governmental official or body shall not issue a development order or other approval authorizing the development in the area subject to the development constraint. The property owner shall have the right to appeal such administrative decision consistent with the procedures and requirements in Article 7 of the zoning code. The zoning administrator may reconsider his or her determination at any time and render a new determination if new or additional facts become known or if the facts upon which the determination was made are not accurate. 

See s. 8-121 of the zoning code.
Street Frontage Lots need to maintain frontage on a public street for the minimum distance specified for the zoning district in which they are located.

Go to the Dimensional Standards page to see this and other dimensional standards. Also see s. 8-64 of the zoning code.
Vegetation Removal Within the R-1, R-2, and R-6 zoning districts, no more than 50 percent of the natural vegetation (cumulative) may be removed from a parcel for construction of a principal building, accessory buildings, driveway area, and containment areas and structures for pets and domestic livestock as may be allowed.
Water and Sewer Connection Most of the developed areas of the City are served by municipal water and sewer. In other areas, private wells and on-site septic systems may be used subject to the review and approval of Bayfield County. Section 9-5-7 of the municipal code describes those situations when connection to the water and sanitary system are required.
Wellhead Protection Overlay District The Wellhead Protection Overlay district is intended to control land uses located near the City's two municipal wells. Those land uses that have a high risk of contaminating the groundwater are either prohibited or limited in some manner. See Article 12 of the zoning code for the restrictions that apply.