Supreme Court Accepts Municipal Shoreline Zoning Authority Case

On June 22, the Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted three new cases. In addition to two criminal cases, the court accepted Anderson v. Town of Newbold, which will determine whether municipalities can enact shoreline frontage requirements under their subdivision authority, notwithstanding statewide zoning authority requirements in statute.

Wisconsin law prohibits towns from enacting shoreland zoning ordinances (Wis. Stat. § 59.692). However, towns do have authority to enact subdivision regulations under Wis. Stat. § 236.45.

The issue before the court in this case is whether the Town of Newbold can enforce a Shoreland Ordinance establishing minimum shoreland frontage requirements under § 236.45. Plaintiff Michael Anderson argues the Shoreland Ordinance is in actuality an illegal zoning ordinance and thus unenforceable by the town.

The court will examine whether it was the intent of the Legislature in 2015 Act 55 to set statewide shoreline standards and prohibit towns from regulating shoreland altogether.