New Wet Boathouse Legislation Eases Controls

Eagle River Wisconsin area wet boathouse owners benefit from new Wisconsin legislation that removes restrictions on repair and maintenance that had forced many boathouses into distressed physical condition.  We're delighted to see the rights of the property owner upheld by the new law and look forward to seeing the awesome boathouses on the Eagle River Chain and many area lakes across the northwoods for years to come! 

Eagle River boathouses - Eliason Realty - WI ACT 167 grandfathering legislation  Eagle River boathouses - Eliason Realty - WI ACT 167 grandfathering legislation  Eagle River boathouses - Eliason Realty - WI ACT 167 grandfathering legislation

Wet Boathouse insert from New Pier Grandfathering Legislation article published May 2, 2012

From the Wisconsin Realtor's Association:

Nonconforming Wet Boathouses

In addition to modifying the pier regulations, the new law (WI ACT 167) eliminates the restrictions placed on the ability of riparian owners to maintain and repair wet boathouses, which are located below the ordinary high water mark. The restrictions limited the value of all maintenance and repairs over the life of the property to 50 percent of the assessed value of the boathouses, which was intended to eventually eliminate these boathouses by forcing them to fall into disrepair.

The 50 percent rule has been unfair to property owners because it applies retroactively to existing boathouses that were legal when originally constructed. Moreover, the rule had proven difficult to enforce because it is almost impossible for county zoning administrators to keep track of each dollar spent on necessary paint, boards and roofing shingles. As a result, it encouraged property owners to be dishonest about what they have spent on repairs and maintenance.

The new law eliminates application of the 50 percent rule to wet boathouses. As a result, riparian owners may perform unlimited maintenance and repair to these existing boathouses that were constructed before 1979. This new law change allows property owners to “keep what they have” but does not allow the boathouses to be expanded.

For more information on the new law, please contact Tom Larson ( at (608) 240-8254.

Tom Larson is Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs for the WRA.

Published: May 02, 2012
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