Gardner Plan Commission Recommends Adopting County Zoning

Gardner’s Plan Commission unanimously recommended Monday that the town adopt Door County’s zoning, rather than have the town enact its own zoning code.

The commission’s recommendation, which will be considered for final approval Aug. 10 by the Gardner Town Board, comes on the heels of the town updating its comprehensive plan earlier this year.

Plan Commission Chair Mark Lentz said the town has been looking into adopting zoning regulations because, except for shoreline zoning administered by the county, Gardner does not have zoning to regulate land use.

Interest in zoning has increased in Gardner during the past two years after a new limestone quarry was allowed off Stevenson Pier Road. Though neighboring residents objected to the land use, they learned that without zoning, the town couldn’t prevent the quarry from opening. 

Lentz said the town has three options for zoning: create its own ordinances and enforce them; adopt the county’s zoning, which would be administered by the County of Door; or do nothing.

He provided the commission with information comparing the town creating its own zoning versus adopting county zoning. If the town adopted its own, Lentz said there were at least 10 ordinances to cover some of the things with which the town was dealing.

In addition, the town would need to hire a zoning administrator and select and train a board of adjustment, with the initial cost of all the things involving the town having its own zoning estimated at $132,000, compared to no costs to the town by adopting the county’s zoning.

For the town to enforce its own zoning code, Town Chair Carl Waterstreet said it would need to go through the court system, where the town would incur attorneys’ fees.

“After the court system, there’s going to have to be some type of a decision made, in which then, more than likely, we’re going to have to enforce it,” he said.

Town Clerk Amy Sacotte said that if Gardner adopts the county’s zoning, the town has discretion in its implementation. 

“We have some say, too, the [town] board,” she said. 

Lentz said he will present the plan commission’s recommendations to the town board Aug. 10.