League of Wisconsin Municipalities
 Capitol Buzz 
December 1, 2015
GOP Legislators to Introduce Property Rights Bill Interfering with Local Control   
Yesterday, Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) and Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) began circulating a property rights bill sought by several business groups, including the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the Wisconsin Builders Association, and various agricultural groups and enterprises. The bill limits or prohibits the ability of local governments to regulate property transfers and uses. 

A particularly problematic part of the bill significantly expands the concept of vested rights. Under the bill, whenever a person obtains any state permit with regard to a particular parcel property, the person obtains "vested rights" to existing local zoning regulations.  In other words, when a person obtains a state permit, the local government in which the property is located is unable from that point forward to adjust zoning or other land use regulations applicable to the parcel or any other non-contiguous parcels the person owns in the community.  

In addition to the vested rights piece, the bill makes the following changes: 

1. Clarifies that recently enacted restrictions on local "time of sale" regulations also apply to regulations imposed at the time of occupancy and on buyers.
2. Clarifies that counties are not authorized to enact county-wide development moratoria.
3. Prohibits cities, villages, towns, and counties from restricting the ability of a property owner to sell or transfer title or ownership interest in their property.
4. Requires local governments to provide written notice to a property owner for zoning changes that would change the density or change the allowable use of the landowners' property without a fee for the notice.
5. Codifies current case law by stating that if a local land use ordinance is challenged in court, and the ordinance is unclear, the ruling shall favor the property owner's free use of private property.
6. Requires that if a zoning ordinance is changed to "down-zone" existing properties, then a 2/3rds majority vote of the governing body is required.
7. Clarifies that land that is platted and zoned for residential, commercial, or manufacturing use must be assessed at its unimproved value until a building permit is issued.

Action step:  Ask your legislators to not sign on as a co-sponsor of LRB 3936/1, the property rights bill that Sen. Lasee and Rep. Jarchow are circulating.  Explain to them that the bill significantly interferes with the ability of communities to protect residential property owners against incompatible uses occurring next door, such as mines, adult entertainment, or rendering plants.  

It's Easy to Contact your Legislator:  We've made it easy for you to send your legislators a message against this bill.  Simply click on the Voter Voice link here.