Oneida County v. Sunflower Prop II, LLC (Pier Construction Permitting)

*This case is recommended for publication.


In Oneida County v. Sunflower Prop II, LLC (2018AP2366), the Court of Appeals District III held that Wisconsin permit exemption laws for piers under Wis. Stat. §30.12(1g)(f) preempt municipal ordinances.  The court remanded to the circuit court as to whether the plaintiff’s pier in this case met the § 30.12(1g)(f) requirements.

Plaintiff Sunflower Properties constructed a new pier on its lakefront property. Oneida County said the pier violated county ordinances regarding the pier shape and width. Sunflower appealed the citation.

On appeal, the court agreed with Sunflower that municipal ordinances cannot apply to piers that qualify for a permit exemption under § 30.12(1g)(f). Sections 30.12 and 30.13 govern construction of piers without permits. Section 30.12(1g)(f) exempts a pier from permitting requirements if it meets certain criteria. Section 30.12(3)(1) also exempts a pier from permitting requirements if it meets a separate set of criteria, including the criterium that the pier does not violate municipal ordinances. (Section 30.13(2) allows municipalities to enact ordinances related to pier construction if they are not inconsistent with state statutes.)

The court agreed with Sunflower that piers meeting permit exemption requirements in § 30.12(1g)(f) do not have to comply with the § 30.13 requirement that the pier also meet municipal ordinances. A pier is exempt from permitting if it meets § 30.12(1g)(f) or § 30.13 requirements; piers are not required to meet both sets of permit exemption criteria.

However, the court did not determine whether Sunflower met the § 30.12(1g)(f) requirements in this case. The case was remanded to circuit court to make that determination.