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Bakke Norman Presents About Land Development at St. Croix Edc in Wisconsin

November 21, 2023

Bakke Norman is a longtime supporter and current executive-level member of the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The firm presented on a variety of topics at a recent online event. These presentations covered employment law, contract law, and other legal issues faced by businesses in Wisconsin.

Land Development Checklist in Wisconsin

During the presentation, Lindsey Kohls and Paul Mahler presented a checklist of some of the key government regulations and issues businesses should consider as they construct or expand their business.

Determine the Jurisdictions Involved

You need to know which governmental bodies have jurisdiction over your project, so you know which laws you need to follow. Depending on where you are located and what activities are included in your project, you may need approvals from federal, state, county, and/or municipal governments.

Certain uses and locations might require the involvement of governmental bodies or agencies with specialized jurisdiction as well.

For example, if you plan to store hazardous materials, you might fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), or if you are within a national scenic riverway area, the National Park Service may be involved.

Keep in mind that governments may have overlapping regulatory authority over your project, so you and your lawyer may need to review your project for compliance with multiple levels of regulation.  

Review Zoning Ordinances

Zoning ordinances determine how you can use your property. Some uses are permitted without any action by the government, while other uses may need a special permit or may not be allowed at all. There may also be parking, setback, height, and area restrictions covered in zoning laws.

As you develop the plan for your project, you need to either conform your proposed use to meet the zoning requirements or obtain a permit for a conditional use. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be eligible to seek a zoning variance from the government, which is essentially an exception to the zoning ordinance requirements.

You should also determine whether you have any prior non-conforming uses. If the law changes, but the current use of your property is compliant with the previous law, you may be permitted to continue your current use. However, because you can lose your right to a prior non-conforming use if you make certain alterations to your property, you need to consider the impact any development may have on your existing uses.

Submit the Required Maps for the Land Division

If you plan to divide your property into multiple lots, you need to submit a map to the local planning authorities and receive approval. A smaller subdivision (generally a division of property into 4 or fewer parcels) typically only requires a certified survey map, while larger subdivisions require a plat. These maps should show any public dedications, such as public dedications for roads or parks.

Listening to the authorities’ input early in the process and submitting the right documents can save you a lot of time, effort, and money down the road.

Determine All the Necessary Approvals

In addition to any required zoning and land division approvals, make sure you review all of the activities you have planned and determine the permits, licenses, and approvals required for such activities. You will need permits for almost any construction on your property, and you may need permits for your eventual use of the land as well. Some common permits and licenses you may need include:

  • Building permits;
  • Right-of-way construction permits;
  • Stormwater management permits; and
  • Liquor licenses.

Ensure Compliance with Building Codes

If your project involves new construction or remodeling, you will need to ensure you are compliant with the standards outlined in your municipality’s and Wisconsin’s building codes, and you will be subject to inspection by a building inspector. New construction and remodeling come with a cost, so when planning your project, be sure to budget for the costs of building permits and related fees. 

Other Considerations

There are a variety of other matters you should consider concerning your project, including, but not limited to,  the community’s level of interest in business and development, annexation, tax increment financing, and development agreements. You should review your project with your legal team to ensure you are addressing any other legal and practical issues that could impact your project.

Guidance for Your Development

As you work through your development project, experienced Wisconsin attorneys can help you bring your project to fruition. If you have any questions about your land development or business, contact the genuine, accomplished, and exceptional attorneys at Bakke Norman, S.C.