Zoning Code | Procedures - Change in Topography

Description: A permit is needed for:
  1. increasing or decreasing existing ground surface elevation greater than 4 feet at any point where the top or bottom of the proposed slope is within 10 feet of any existing property boundary or within 50 feet of an environmental corridor;
  2. increasing or decreasing existing ground surface elevation steeper than 2 horizontal to 1 vertical or a total elevation change of 6 feet or greater at any point;
  3. bringing in fill or removing excavated material from a site in quantities greater than one thousand (1,000) cubic yards, unless otherwise approved through a master grading plan;
  4. increasing or decreasing existing ground surface elevation greater than 4 feet at any point within 50 feet of a floodplain or wetland boundary at any point;
  5. ponds as denoted in the land-use matrix (Exhibit 7-1); and
  6. major retaining walls.
The following are exempt:
  1. Any wetland enhancement or restoration project approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources where the top or bottom of a proposed slope is 15 feet or greater from the nearest existing property boundary at any point; and
  2. Any stormwater management practice permitted under the Waukesha County’s Stormwater Ordinance if the top or bottom of the proposed slope is located 15 feet or greater from the nearest existing property boundary or environmental corridor at any point. However, if a proposed berm for a storm water management practice is greater than 4 feet in height at any point, the applicant may be required to complete an additional engineering review or meet more restrictive berm design requirements, depending on the Waukesha County’s determination of risk for downstream damages.

Application fee: There is no initial application fee, but the application must pay any professional charge-back fees related to the review of this application

Submittal deadline: The zoning administrator must determine the application is complete and ready for review at least 4 weeks before the Plan Commission meeting, which is typically held the first Monday of the month.

Decision maker(s): Plan Commission
Basis of decision: The Plan Commission must consider the following factors:
  1. the stability of the proposed slope;
  2. the aesthetic impact;
  3. the potential for adverse drainage;
  4. the potential impact upon neighboring properties;
  5. the potential impact upon environmentally sensitive areas;
  6. the potential impact upon existing lakes and streams;
  7. the potential impact on roadways and other infrastructure;
  8. public safety;
  9. the length, height, design, and location of any retaining walls or berms;
  10. whether a retaining wall is needed to stabilize the grade or control soil erosion based on existing topography;
  11. how the proposed activity fits with the master grading plan, if applicable;
  12. proposed landscaping and screening;
  13. the materials used and source for fill, landscaping, and retaining walls;
  14. the amount of land disturbance in relation to the size of the subject property;
  15. proposed pond size, use, location, design, landscaping, and water source; and
  16. any other factor that relates to the purposes of this chapter as set forth in s. 500.05 or as allowed by state law.

Review process:
  1. Pre-submittal meeting. Before submitting an application, the applicant or the applicant's agent may meet with the zoning administrator to review applicable regulations and procedures and the proposal.
  2. Submittal of application materials. The applicant shall submit a completed application and other required materials to the zoning administrator along with the application fee as may be established by the Town Board.
  3. Staff review. Within 10 days of receiving the application and other required materials, the zoning administrator shall either place the matter on the agenda for the meeting at which the matter will be considered allowing for proper public notice or make a determination that the application is incomplete and notify the applicant in writing of the deficiencies and that the applicant has 3 months from the date of such determination to resubmit the application or forfeit the application fee, if any. The zoning administrator shall take no further steps to process the application until the deficiencies are remedied. The incomplete application shall be retained as a public record.
  4. Staff report preparation and distribution. The zoning administrator shall prepare a written staff report as described in this division and provide a copy of it to each member of the Plan Commission and the applicant prior to the meeting at which the matter will be considered. The zoning administrator shall also provide a copy to interested people upon request.
  5. General notice. Consistent with division 2 of article 5, the zoning administrator shall place the matter on the meeting agenda of the Plan Commission.
  6. Meeting. Allowing for proper notice, the Plan Commission shall consider the application at a regular or special meeting.
  7. Decision. The Plan Commission shall (i) approve the application, (ii) approve the application with conditions, or (iii) deny the application. The Plan Commission may render its decision at the same meeting the matter was initially considered or at a subsequent meeting, but no later than 40 days after the public hearing unless the applicant agrees to an extension of a specified duration.
  8. Preparation of decision notice. Based on the action of the Plan Commission, the zoning administrator shall prepare a decision notice consistent with this division.
  9. Applicant notification. Within a reasonable time following the Plan Commission’s decision, the zoning administrator shall mail the decision notice to the applicant by regular mail.
  10. Acceptance by property owner required. If an approval includes one or more condition of approval, the property owner shall sign the decision notice to acknowledge the imposition of such condition or conditions and return the same to the zoning administrator within 6 months of the decision. Prior to the expiration of the previously specified time period, the property owner may submit a petition to the town clerk requesting an extension and the Town Board may, with cause, extend the period within which the decision notice must be signed. If the signed decision notice is not returned within the initial or extended time period, if any, the decision shall become null and void without any further action by the town. The decision notice shall only become effective when all required signatures have been obtained and the original signature copy is returned to the town clerk.
  11. Recording of decision notice. The decision notice shall be recorded in the Waukesha County register of deeds office when approval is granted.
  12. Public record copy. A duplicate copy of the decision notice shall be retained as a public record.