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Dane County Land & Water Resources Department
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my project requires a Shoreland Mitigation Permit?

If your project is located within 300 feet of a navigable waterway (i.e. lake, pond, river, or stream) you will need to contact Dane County Zoning for a Shoreland Zoning Permit. Dane County Zoning staff will determine whether or not the project requires a Shoreland Mitigation Permit. You will receive written confirmation of their determination. You can use the Land & Water Resource Viewer to determine if your project is located within 300 feet of a navigable waterway. 

In most cases, yes. The stormwater management component of the mitigation permit must be designed by a professional engineer licensed in Wisconsin. Certain exemptions do apply for projects that do not require the stormwater management performance standards to be met. It is recommended that you work with a qualified professional that specializes in native plantings or shoreland restoration when buffer restoration is required.

After receiving your shoreland zoning permit determination letter from Dane County Zoning, submit two complete copies of all application and plan materials and the permit fee to Water Resource Engineering -- see our How to Submit webpage for more information. If the person submitting the application is not the landowner, a notarized statement signed by the landowner authorizing the applicant must be included.

The vegetative buffer zone must consist of species native to south central Wisconsin, and meet or exceed the density requirements and other standards described in NRCS Conservation Practice 643a “Shoreland Restoration” and Wisconsin Biology Technical Note 1. If you intend to utilize the existing vegetation, the vegetative buffer plan should include an inventory of the existing species, their locations, densities, photos and a landscape plan showing their approximate location. The plan must also include removal and replacement of undesirable species such that the standards referenced above can be met within the establishment period.

The use of native vegetation, matting and biological stabilization options are preferred. However, a boulder or rock retaining wall and/or terraces may be allowed in cases where it is shown to be structurally necessary for stabilization of a steep slope. A variance from the vegetative buffer standard may be necessary.

The buffer must meet the design standards and dimensional requirements within 3 years of permit issuance. The vegetative buffer plan should identify a specific planting schedule based on the methods of establishment and the needs of the site. It should be noted that native plantings can take years to successfully establish and delaying planting is not recommended. The buffer must be planted to complete the as-built plan process and release any financial security held for the project.

What is a maintenance agreement?

A maintenance agreement is a legal document recorded with the Dane County Register of Deeds that prescribes specific maintenance tasks for required permanent practices. All permanent stormwater management practices and vegetated buffers must be maintained in perpetuity. This document and the maintenance responsibilities transfer with changes in ownership. The executed maintenance agreement and recording fee must be submitted prior to permit issuance. 

Any changes to the approved plan or schedule need to be submitted for review prior to implementation. Revisions must be submitted in writing and will only be accepted prior to permit expiration. At minimum, a revision consists of a written request and the supporting documentation (i.e. revised plans, revised schedule and soil loss analysis). Your consultant can help you prepare the necessary information. 

As-built plans are a record set of drawings submitted by a professional engineer following the completion of construction. As-built plans are required for all permanent stormwater management practices, including the vegetative buffer. As-built plans should be submitted within 10-days of completion of the project. 

The Dane County Erosion Control & Stormwater Management Manual provides information to help landowners, developers and consultants meet the requirements of Dane County's Erosion Control and Stormwater Management Ordinance.  For more information about this topic, visit the Erosion Control and Stormwater Management webpage.

Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. Staff will inform you or your consultant of plan deficiencies or permit approval within 15 working days. Deficiencies can be corrected by revising the application materials or submitting additional information. In some cases, simplified permit applications can be reviewed and issued usually within 3 days. For simplified review, please contact wrediv@countyofdane.com or call (608) 224-3730 to be directed to the appropriate staff member.

Permits are issued for the timeframe specified in the approved plan, and expire on the stabilization date as described or included in the soil loss analysis. Erosion Control Permits can be issued for a maximum period of 3 years. Stormwater management permits are issued in perpetuity and do not expire. The permit expiration date is described in the approval memo and printed on the permit card.

The nature and scope of your project and its proximity to surface water resources will determine whether or not a permit is required from our office. Please refer to the Do I Need a Permit webpage or our Permit Information Sheet (PDF) which outlines the permitting requirements. If you have any questions regarding your project and permit applicability please email us or contact a Water Resources Engineering staff member.

You can use the Land & Water Resource Viewer to determine if your project is located in the shoreland zone. Simply enter the address or tax parcel number of your project in the search field in the upper right corner or navigate to the location of your project on the map.  Once zoomed to the location of your project, click on the “Map Contents” folder located on the toolbar across the top of the page. Scroll down and check the box labeled “Shoreland Zone”. The shoreland zone is depicted as a dark purple shadow (within 300’ of a stream/lake/pond) and a light purple  shadow (within 1000’ of a lake/pond) on the map. The 1% annual chance (100-year) floodplain and DNR wetland layers can also be added by checking the appropriate box under “Water Resources” of the map contents folder.

Tools that may be useful for your permit application can be found on the Erosion and Stormwater Permit Tools webpage.

Depending on the municipality in which your proposed project is located, you may need to apply with Dane County’s Water Resource Engineering Division or with your local municipality. See our How to Submit a Permit webpage for more information.