November 23, 2010
MADISON - Waterfront property owners with larger piers can follow a few simple steps to be sure they register their pier before time runs out on April 1, 2011.
An online video, interactive decision tool, and other materials on Waterway & Wetland Permits: Piers, Docks and Wharves web pages help waterfront property owners learn whether they need to register their larger pier to have it grandfathered.
"The vast majority of pier owners across Wisconsin have traditional piers and aren't affected by the 2008 law, " says Martye Griffin, who coordinates pier issues for the Department of Natural Resources. "You can learn for certain if you need to register and, if you do, complete the process quickly by using the tools on our Waterway and Wetlands permit page."
A 2004 law created exemptions to DNR's permitting process for certain projects, including traditional piers that were a maximum of 6 feet wide, didn't interfere with neighbors or public boating and fishing, and have no more than two boat slips for the first 50 feet of shoreline frontage owned and an additional boat slip for every full 50 feet owned thereafter.
To meet concerns of property owners with larger piers that did not fit under the exemption, legislators in 2008 passed a law that grandfathered most larger piers first put in the water before 2004. However, owners of qualified piers need to complete a free, one-time registration by April 1, 2011.
Large piers can impact fish and aquatic life by shading out the aquatic plants they need to provide habitat. Large piers also can interfere with boating, swimming and fishing in addition to interfering with neighbors.
Owners of piers larger than the standards codified in 2004 have until April 1, 2011, to determine if they qualify to be grandfathered, and to complete the registration process. Owners of very large piers that don't meet the grandfathering standards will have the choice of downsizing to meet the standard or completing an individual permit application and review process.
For piers that are too large to be exempt but qualified to be grandfathered, the registration process involves filling out and mailing in a brief form. Drawing a diagram indicating the dimensions of the pier is the most important thing, Griffin says.
"The more information we get for the file the better the protection for a landowner if a complaint or disagreement arises in the future with a neighbor or member of the public," he says.
DNR is evaluating the registration forms on a first-come, first served basis. Griffin anticipates that everyone who sends in their forms will have them signed by the DNR and returned to them by the time the grandfathering period ends in 2011.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Martye Griffin (608) 266-2997