20 tips for buying a lake home in NW Wisconsin: # 7 Wisconsin’s Pier Regulations

20 tips for buying a lake home in NW Wisconsin: # 7 Wisconsin’s Pier Regulations

In the summer of 2008, new legislation concerning the placement of piers on Wisconsin waterways went into effect. The 2008 legislation expands the exempt piers, provides more flexibility in the number of boat slips allowed for commercial and multifamily lots, and creates a registration system to grandfather piers placed before 2004 that do not meet today’s standards.

A complete description of the new regulations is available at Wisconsin DNR website.

Exempt piers:

  • Width – maximum 6’ wide. If the pier is NOT located in an Area of Special Natural Resource Interest, an 8’ long x 8’ wide loading platform or deck is allowed at the waterward end of the pier.
  • Length – the length needed to moor your boat, use a boat lift, or to reach a 3’ water depth, whichever is greater.
  • Location – does not interfere with the rights of other riparian owners
  • Number of boats – 2 for the first 50’ of frontage, 1 for every additional full 50’.

All exemption requirements are described in the DNRs brochure Pier Planner, available at dnr.wi.gov. A DNR study showed that more than 85% of all existing peris already meet these requirements, so most waterfront property owners have exempt piers and don’t need to do anything.

If your pier is not exempt, but you had the pier before 2004.
Most piers that are not exempt are eligible to be grandfathered through a one-time free registration process. To be eligible for registration:

  • Piers must have been placed before Feb. 6th 2004.
  • Pier has a main stem that is a maximum 8’ wide.
  • Has a loading platform at the end of the pier that is a maximum of 200 square feet or a maximum of 300 square feet if it’s 10’ wide or less.
  • Does not interfere with the rights of other riparian owners.

All existing piers that meet these criteria must be registered with the DNR by April 1, 2011.

For New Piers
Follow the requirements described in the Pier Planner to be sure your pier is exempt. New piers can be installed without a permit if they meet the exemption standards. Permits are required for piers that are larger than the dimensional standards or have more boats.

If you are selling your waterfront property
The new owner can place the same pier and won’t need a permit. If the new owner wants to install a different pier, they can design it to be exempt, or obtain a permit if they need something different.

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