Moratorium considered on new residential developments
Town needs new permit ordinance

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Feb. 8, 2018


 Former Delafield Town Chairman Paul Kanter recommends at Tuesday’s Plan Commission meeting that the town impose a moratorium on all new residential developments until the Town Board can adopt a new conditional use permit ordinance.
Kelly Smith/Special to The Freeman

TOWN OF DELAFIELD — A moratorium on new residential developments in the town may be imposed until the Town Board adopts a new ordinance regulating the issuance of conditional use permits.

Town Chairman Larry Krause anticipates the five-member board may vote on the moratorium at a Feb. 18 meeting.

The moratorium is being recommended by former Town Chairman Paul Kanter, who is a member of the Plan Commission.

He made the recommendation after Town Attorney Eric Larson outlined to the Plan Commission at its meeting Tuesday night the ramifications of a new state law regulating the issuance of conditional use permits.

The new law restricts the ability of all municipalities to reject applications for conditional use permits and makes it more difficult for citizens to oppose new developments and the issuing of the permits.

“This is stunningly irresponsible on the part of the legislature,” said Kanter, who argued the law attempts to strip municipalities of their ability to shape communities according to their residents’ wishes.

The conditional use permit is a tool that many municipalities in Waukesha County use because, according to local authorities, it provides both municipalities and developers more flexibility in developing a site than using conventional zoning codes.

Kanter pointed out that the town has used conditional use permits to regulate nearly all residential subdivisions during the past 25 years.

“I have been on this plan commission for 25 years and we have worked hard to create the kind of community that our residents want to move into and live in.

“This legislation strips that away,” Kanter said.

Larson explained that the state legislature adopted the law to overturn a state Supreme Court decision.

The court ruled that a Trempealeau County municipality had the authority to deny a mining company a conditional use permit even though the company met the municipal code standards for the permit.

According to Larson, the new law requires that if an applicant meets all requirements and conditions within the municipality’s conditional use permit ordinance, the permit must be issued.

In addition, any citizen opposing the issuance of such a permit must provide “substantial evidence” as to why the permit does not meet code standards.

In other words, if citizens want to argue a development would lower neighborhood property values or is not compatible with the surrounding properties, the citizen must provide substantial evidence to support those arguments, according to Larson.

Larson recommended the Plan Commission and Town Board create a new conditional use permit ordinance that includes all the specific standards that the board and the commission want to require for conditional use permits.

Commissioner Garrett Reich said it may be possible for the town to include in the new ordinance many of the standards it presently imposes on conditional use permits.

“This is an issue that we all are going to have to roll up our sleeves and think about,” Larson told the commission.