Town of Delafield suspends conditional use permits
Permit code likely to be changed

By Kelly Smith - Special to The Freeman

Feb. 14, 2018

  Delafield Town Supervisor Billy Cooley makes a point during a Town Board debate over how the town should react to a state law that restricts the town’s ability to deny conditional use permits for residential and commercial developments.
Kelly Smith/Special to The Freeman

TOWN OF DELAFIELD — The Town Board on Tuesday night voted to suspend for 3 months the issuance of conditional use permits to give the Plan Commission time to propose either changing, or repealing, the code that governs the permits.

Although the vote was unanimous, there was debate among the town supervisors about how to respond to a recently passed state law, The law restricts the town’s ability to reject applications for conditional use permits when the permit application meets local code standards.

Typically, conditional use permits are required when there is an unusual land use that fits within a zoning district but requires special conditions, according to zoning authorities.

However, some communities, like the town, also use conditional use permits as a tool to control growth and regulate commercial and residential developments.

Town Attorney Eric Larson has advised town officials that if they want to maintain some discretion in whether to issue the permits, they need to either revise, or repeal, the code that authorizes the permits. Supervisor Edward Kranick proposed a moratorium on issuing the permits to give the town’s legal and planning staff time to work with the Plan Commission in developing a new ordinance.

He said the moratorium would enable the town to “stay one step ahead of the developers” and preserve the rural residential character of the town while the new ordinance was being drafted.

Town Chairman Larry Krause said his initial reaction to the new law was to impose the moratorium, but he said he later decided it might be wiser to wait for the commission to draft the new ordinance.

Krause expressed concern that a moratorium might result in a court battle that the town could not win.

Supervisor Billy Cooley said he too was concerned about the legal ramifications, but he could support a moratorium provided there was a time limit on it.

In addition to the three-month limit, the supervisors also agreed that the suspension could be waived by the board in the event the suspension was posing a hardship to an applicant.

Town Engineer Tim Barbeau predicted it would take the Plan Commission three to six months to either amend or repeal the ordinance.

“It is not an easy thing to try to get your head around,” he explained.