Town halts new residential lawn businesses

Supervisors will revisit conditional use permits at Aug. 8 board meeting
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton Town Board last Wednesday temporarily stopped landscaping businesses from applying for conditional use permits on all residentially zoned properties.

The change comes after the town placed a moratorium on all conditional use permits in April in response to Wisconsin Act 67, which was passed in November.

Act 67 changes the rules for conditional use permits, requiring municipalities to deny conditional use permits based on substantial evidence that is measurable and not by personal preferences or speculation. As a result, the town must amend its codes.  

“It’s not going to be as easy to place conditions on a permit as it has been,” Town Attorney Sara MacCarthy said.

According to officials, the landscaping discussion came up after residents complained about several home-based landscaping businesses in the town. In the past, the town’s ordinances were ambiguous as to what constitutes a landscaping business, and some residents were abusing the conditions of their permits.

The new conditional use permit ordinance proposed would have allowed landscapers in residential zones if they have no more than two employees, two one-ton pickup trucks with two trailers for equipment and lawnmowers.

These permits do not allow landscape materials such as stone and plants to be stored on site, and the vehicles and equipment must be stored out of sight. All landscaping work must be done off site.

All current landscaping businesses that have permits for residential properties are grandfathered.

During the meeting, the proposed ordinance failed on a 2-2 vote. Supervisors Tom Sykora and Karron Stockwell voted against the proposal and supervisors Tom Grabow and Paul Melotik voted in favor. Town Chairman Lester Bartel was not present.

A motion to pass the ordinance but eliminate landscaping failed, 2-2, with Grabow and Melotik dissenting.

An ordinance covering the entire conditional use process passed without landscaping in residential properties 3-1 with Melotik dissenting. But officials said they will revisit the issue at their next meeting on Aug. 8.

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