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Baraboo crafts list of banned land uses along South Boulevard, riverfront

October 20, 2018 GMT

Baraboo planners want to tighten their control over property uses along two key commercial corridors, but seek to keep the door open to boat rentals, swimming pools and hotels.

On Tuesday, the Plan Commission voted 5-0 to recommend to the Common Council a list of land uses to be prohibited in a special zoning district governing development along the riverfront and South Boulevard. City leaders are responding to a change in state law that limits municipalities’ ability to deny applicants’ requests for conditional use permits. Unless the city has restrictions on its books prohibiting a certain use, or can prove a public health hazard, it must allow it.

The city began updating its zoning code this summer when, on advice from its attorney, the council reversed a Plan Commission ruling blocking a repair shop from selling used vehicles on South Boulevard. City Attorney Emily Truman informed the council that without a prohibition against such a use listed in its zoning code, or evidence the use would be problematic, it must issue a conditional use permit. The issue returned to the forefront Tuesday, when the Plan Commission approved plans to build a gun shop, manufacturing facility and shooting range on South Boulevard despite some members’ concerns.

The city has established an ad hoc committee to update the zoning code. Meanwhile, the Plan Commission is creating a list of land uses to be prohibited along the riverfront and South Boulevard. On Tuesday, members approved a list provided by staff after removing several uses they believed should be allowed.

Prohibited uses on the lengthy list include bus depots, auto service stations and animal shelters. Commissioner Tom Kolb asked that boat rentals be pulled from the list, as such a business might be beneficial along the Baraboo River. Commissioners also asked that swimming pools be allowed, in case a pool were included in a proposal to build a fitness center. Hotels and convention centers also were removed from the list.

“These can definitely be tailored,” Truman said.

The proposed update to the zoning code will go to the council.