Council updates shoreland building code

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Restrictions on rebuilding damaged or destroyed non-conforming structures were relaxed by the City Council Tuesday.

The ordinance, to reflect changes in state law, drew criticism and a no vote from Alderman John Nelson, who characterized it as another instance of the state dictating to local governments.

“This ordinance is really bringing city code up to date with state law. It gives non-conforming property owners options they didn’t have before,” City Attorney Crystal Fieber told the council.

Where existing buildings did not meet city codes adopted after they were built as far as size, setback, height and other provisions, the previous city ordinance did not allow them to rebuild if they were damaged or destroyed.

In addition, non-conforming buildings in shoreland and wetland areas could not be modified or expanded to more than 50 percent of their fair market value.

However, the state changed those laws recently and removed those restriction for any building damaged or destroyed after March 2016.

“Philosophically, I have a disagreement with that,” Nelson commented. He noted that the shoreland/wetland restrictions were adopted to reduce obstructions along shores and prevent further congestion or blocking of views in those areas.

“It’s too bad we’re always told what to do from the state,” Nelson added.

The ordinance, which drew no comment during a public hearing, was adopted by a vote of 6-1, with Nelson voting no and Alderman David Williams absent.

The council heard a report from Dane Checolinski, director of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp., on the Someplace Better employee recruitment effort recently launched by the SCEDC and the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce.

He explained that the county currently has more job openings than people looking for work and Someplace Better is an effort to attract people to help fill that gap.

“The main goal was to provide a tool for companies to sell this area to potential employees,” Checolinski said of the program, which features a comprehensive website and a 100-page full-color welcome guide to Sheboygan County.

“We don’t want to tell them about the community, we want to show them about the community,” he said of the website aimed at bringing people to Sheboygan County to work.

Both the website and the guide highlight all of the communities in the county, including schools, lifestyle features, resources and more.

He noted the emphasis on things to do and arts, culture and events throughout the county. “One thing we always hear from people who live here is that there is nothing to do here and we want to destroy that notion,” Checolinski said.

“A great thing to see is the SCEDC working with the Sheboygan County Chamber,” City Administrator Brian Yerges said of the Someplace Better initiative.

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