Allowed Uses and Construction FAQ

Questions listed here are typical questions on any given day. The answers provided are the "short version" in many cases. More complete explanations can be found elsewhere on the site or by contacting the zoning office.
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What is allowed on my property?

Principal uses (houses, office buildings, etc.) and accessory uses (garages, boathouses, etc.) are allowed according to their zoning district. There are also conditional uses that are allowed on a property through a public hearing process. Check the GIS link on our website to find the zoning of your property, then connect with Chapter 23 of the General Codes on the website.  Article 8 of Chapter 23 describes land uses and includes the Land Use Matrix, Exhibit 8-1, that will tell you what uses are allowed in what district and the review requirement for approval.

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Who enforces covenants?

Covenants are created by the developer to ensure certain standards that they want to see uniform throughout the new subdivision. These usually have to do with limiting outside parking of vehicles or boats, the number of outbuildings allowed, whether or not clothes can be hung out-side to dry, etc.

Covenants are not regulated by the Zoning Office. The developers or a homeowners association usually regulate issues connected with the covenants. In some of the older subdivisions, there may be no one to enforce the covenants. Owners may have to resort to hiring legal help to resolve covenant issues.

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Can I add on to the house or garage?

There are a number of things that affect this answer. If the house has a private sanitary system you should contact the County zoning office to see if there are limitations to house additions. Whether a house is conforming or not for any reason may affect house addition allowances.

Setback requirements and measurements should be checked to see if there is room to add onto a garage or house. Most properties have limitations regarding garage or accessory building square footage based on the size of the property and the zoning district. For those towns that have not adopted County zoning, contact the town for that information.

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Can I build a garage?

Generally, garages are allowed on a lot only if the principal structure(house) is present or under construction.

Garages are limited in size by both the zoning district and lot size. Both attached garages and detached garages combined are considered when determining the square footage allowed for the lot.

In a few instances, a garage lot may be across the road from residential lake lot where there is not enough room on the lake lot for a garage and a house. See "Garage Lots" on our website.

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Can I build a fence?

Most properties are allowed fences of one kind or another based on the type of zoning and setback requirements from road rights-of-way and navigable waters. No fences are allowed within 75 ft. of the ordinary high water mark of navigable waters.

There will be height limitations and if located in County zoning jurisdiction a permit is generally required. A permit is generally not required for two eight foot long sections. If you live in a subdivision there may be covenants which restrict fences. County zoning does not regulate covenants.

Also refer to the fence handout in the forms section of this site.  

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Do I need a permit for a pool?

Above ground pools require a zoning permit to be issued prior to their construction. Any decks or fences associated with the pool also require permit approval prior to construction.

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Can I build a boathouse?

Every water-front lot is allowed one boathouse as an accessory use. The principal use (house) must be present or under construction on the same lot as the boathouse.

Boathouses are not allowed to be built waterward of the Ordinary High Water Mark.

Please see our link at "Building Information – Boathouses" for detailed information about building setbacks, size, and uses.

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Can I have a dock?

Docks are generally structures located over navigable bodies of water and are regulated by the DNR. Please contact the Oshkosh DNR office at (920) 424-3050.

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Do decks count?

Decks count toward setbacks and must gain approval through the issuance of a zoning permit prior to their construction.

  • Decks attached to the home must meet the setbacks required for the principal structure including a 75’ setback from the Ordinary High Water Mark for their approval.
  • Decks not attached to the house must meet a 10’ setback from the house.
  • Decks attached to a pool, not attached to the house, must meet all setbacks of accessory structures including a 10’ setback from any structure they are not attached to.
  • Once the pool and deck are connected to the house, they become part of the house and must meet the same setback requirements as the house.

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What do I have to do to construct a pond?

A determination must first be made whether the pond location is in a shoreland or wetland area. If you wish to construct a pond in a wetland or shoreland area permits will generally be required from the DNR, County zoning and possibly Corps of Engineers.

If an individual wants to construct a pond in agriculturally zoned land with five or more acres, generally a County erosion control permit is required. A conditional use permit is required to construct a pond in residentially zoned property within the jurisdiction of County zoning. A residential pond less than 100 sq. ft. is generally allowed without a permit. Most ponds will therefore require a permit, so contact these agencies to inquire about the procedure for a pond at your location.

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Can I fill my property?

Generally, an individual can fill his land to some degree.

  • Outside the shoreland or wetland areas:
    • Filling is allowed without a permit if the fill doesn’t exceed 4,000 sq. ft. or 400 cu. yds.
    • Exceeding the limits of the fill listed will require an erosion control permit.
  • Shoreland and wetland areas:
    • A permit is required.
    • Proper drainage methods must be practiced to protect adjacent properties.
    • Generally, wetland and floodway areas cannot be filled.

Contact the County zoning office before doing any filling. Any after-the-fact filling, which required a permit, will have to pay a double fee.

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Can I have horses or other animals?

In order to house horses or other animals your property must be greater than five (5) acres and zoned agricultural. On certain residential properties greater than two and a half (2.5) acres animals can be raised if a Conditional Use has been approved.

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Can I raise dogs?

No more than two dogs shall be housed on residentially zoned properties. A kennel or doggy daycare requires Conditional Use approval. Contact the Zoning Office for information regarding this process.  

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Can I have a camper?

If a home is present on a property, then a camper is allowed to be parked on the same parcel as an accessory use to the property.

This means that if you own a camper and enjoy taking it on vacations, you are allowed to keep the camper on your property while it is not being used. It is not a vacation place for others to come and stay with you for the summer. It cannot be rented out while it sits on your property—unless a Temporary Use permit is granted for a special occasion.

Campers may not be placed on vacant parcels except for occasional use by the owner. "Occasional use" is defined as being on weekends, or a week for vacation purposes. At all other times, the unit shall be removed from the property.

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Yard sheds - what are they?

Under the previous zoning code, a yard shed was referred to as a minor structure.  Yard sheds are small garden or utility sheds which do not exceed 100 square feet in area and do not exceed 8 feet in height.  A yard shed can only be established with a principal residential use present and it must meet all setback requirements which include: 30 feet from the road right-of-way, 3 feet from the side and rear lot lines, 10 feet from any other structure and 75 feet from the ordinary high water mark of any navigable lake, channel, river or stream. 

 

One yard shed is allowed without a zoning permit and will not count towards the total allowed accessory structure space.  Additional yard sheds will require a zoning permit and will contribute to the total allowed accessory structure space.  Yard sheds are not allowed in the floodway.

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Zoning Department

County Administration Building
112 Otter Ave 3rd Floor
Oshkosh, WI 54901
Oshkosh:(920) 232-3344
Neenah:(920) 727-2880
Fax:(920) 232-3347

Office Hours

8:00am - 4:30pm, M - F

Walk In Hours

8:00am - 10:00am

Mailing Address

County Zoning Office
Attn (list staff name)
112 Otter Ave
Oshkosh WI 54901