Posts Tagged with Legislation

New Pier Grandfathering Legislation Signed Into Law (report by WRA)
Posted by Diane Misina on May 3, 2012 in Zoning Legal
New Pier Grandfathering Legislation Signed Into Law (report by WRA)New Pier Grandfathering Legislation Signed Into Law By: Tom Larson

On April 2, 2012, Governor Walker signed into law 2011 Wisconsin Act 167, legislation that grandfathers almost all existing piers. In addition, the new law eliminates the pier registration requirement and creates new standards for piers placed on or after April 17, 2012. Finally, the new law guarantees that waterfront property owners have a right to place a pier, even if the property is located in areas that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) considers to be environmentally significant.


In 2007, Wisconsin lawmakers enacted a law that attempted to grandfather 99 percent of the existing piers from DNR permitting requirements. (2007 Wisconsin Act 204.) To be eligible for grandfathering, a pier was required to meet the following standards:

The pier must have been originally placed prior to February 6, 2004. The width of the pier could be no wider than eight feet. A loading platform or deck was allowed as long as it is located at the lakeward end of the pier and the platform had a surface area no greater than either (a) 200 square feet, which may be any width, or (b) 300 square feet, if the deck/platform is no wider than 10 feet.

In addition, the pier must have been registered with the DNR by April 1, 2011. The registration deadline was later changed to April 1, 2012.

However, both the DNR and lawmakers discovered that many more piers than originally anticipated would not qualify for grandfathering. In addition, very few piers that did qualify for grandfathering were registered with the DNR.
Accordingly, lawmakers decided that it would be best to resolve the pier grandfathering issue once and for all by grandfathering all existing piers.

Grandfathering of Existing Piers

Under the new law, all existing piers placed before April 17, 2012 are grandfathered unless:

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