Permits 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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When is the zoning office open?

Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Office personnel are available to assist the public any time during these hours.

  • 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. - Walk-in Hours:  Code Enforcement Officers make an effort to be in the office to assist our walk-in clients with questions.
  • 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. - Code Enforcement Officers are routinely out of the office during these hours performing "in-the-field" duties.  To ensure a Code Enforcement Officer is available please schedule an appointment.

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Do I need a permit?

If you’re going to do any type of construction, it is a good idea to check with the County Zoning Office and the Town Building Inspector. 

Any external additions or alterations to a structure will usually require a zoning permit. This includes decks, dormers or roof alterations, lean-tos, replacement porches, etc.  Fences also require a zoning permit. 

Interior remodeling does not require a zoning permit, nor is a zoning permit required for replacement windows, siding, roofing shingles, etc.

Building permits from the Town building inspector are generally required for all of the above. 

In shoreland areas, zoning permits may also be required for fill, for patios (concrete, brick, or paver blocks) or for sidewalks/driveways within 75 ft. of the Ordinary High Water Mark.

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What do I need to pull a permit?

Each permit has different requirements for approval. Please refer to the Permit Information link on the Zoning Office Homepage for specific information on each of the permits our office issues.  

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What happens if I don’t get a permit?

Not getting a permit can create some serious problems for a property owner:

  • Upon notification of the violation, a "Notice of Violation" is sent to the property owner.
  • If everything with the project meets requirements, a double fee is charged for an after-the-fact permit.
  • If there are problems, a minimal amount of time will be granted for the violation to be corrected. This may include removing what has just been built.
  • If cooperation is not forthcoming, a Municipal Citation will be issued which starts the legal procedure in gaining compliance.
  • If an owner pleads "guilty" or "no contest", the decision is in favor of the County and a forfeiture is paid by the property owner.
  • After paying the fine, the owner still has to bring the property into compliance. It’s not a matter of "just paying the fine" and keeping what you have built or done.
  • If an owner pleads, "not guilty", the case is assigned to a judge and a date for the court trial is set. If a jury trial is requested, the owner has to pay a cost for the jury.
  • In a trial, if found guilty, a substantial fine is usually imposed. The fine can be assessed for a certain dollar amount for every day the violation has existed or continues to exist.
  • Ultimately, if there is no cooperation, an owner could find himself in jail, and fines will be put on the property taxes as a special assessment. And the property will still have to be brought into compliance.

          It’s just not worth it.

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Why do I need a County and Town permit?

The County and the Town are looking for different information in their permit approval process. The County is reviewing setbacks, sizes, zoning, and future land use. The Town’s approval relates to how a structure is constructed and may also involve other local ordinances.

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Who do I talk with to find out how big I can build my building/structure?

First, determine which zoning jurisdiction the building site is located. See What Zoning Jurisdiction is my property in?

  • For Shoreland Areas and County Zoning contact the Winnebago County Planning and Zoning Department.
  • For City, Village or Town zoning jurisdiction contact their municipal office or Planning/Zoning Department.
  • Structures may not be constructed/located in a mapped wetland area.  To see if your property has mapped wetlands, use the GIS Hydrologic Map at
    •  Contact the DNR if you have questions regarding mapped wetlands.

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How do I get an address for my property?

  • If the address will be inside of a city or village, request a new address directly with that municipality.

  • If the address will be in a town please complete the address request application on the Planning and Zoning webpage 

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How do I use the Parcel Viewer to print a site plan map for my permit application?

  • Open the GIS/Maps Parcel Viewer at: 
  • To find a parcel click in the search box and type in a parcel number (PIN), or Site Address.  
  • Click the best matching result. 
    • The map will zoom to the parcel.  Verify it is the correct parcel.
  • Click the display option button in the upper right corner. 
  • Uncheck the Aerial View Layers and check the White Background View.   
    • This will remove the aerial background from the map. 
    • The aerial background makes the site plan hard to read and hard to scan
  • ​​To print or export your map, click the print button.  
  • Select a layout type that is no larger than 11 x 17.  
    • Letter ANSI A Landscape – 8.5 inches by 11 inches
    • Letter ANSI A Portrait – 8.5 inches by 11 inches
    • Tabloid ANSI B Landscape – 11 inches by 17 inches
    • Tabloid ANSI B Portrait – 11 inches by 17 
  • Click the print button to generate a pdf map.  
    • When the pdf is finished creating, click on the map title. 
      • This will open the document in your pdf viewer.
      • If the map covers the area you need for your site plan, you can print the map from your pdf viewer.
      • If the map does not cover the area you need, move the map on the parcel viewer screen and generate a new pdf map.
    • You can print from your pdf viewer or download to use later.

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What zoning jurisdiction is my property in?

There are four primary types of zoning jurisdictions in Winnebago County.  The map below details the locations of each type of zoning jurisdiction.

  • County Zoning Jurisdiction - The Winnebago County Zoning Department issues all county zoning permits, sanitary permits and erosion control permits in the towns of
    Algoma, Neenah, Nekimi and Omro*.
             *  The Town of Omro issues their own erosion control permits.

  • Shoreland - Winnebago County also has jurisdiction in all rural and unincorporated Shoreland** areas for zoning permits, sanitary permits and erosion control permits.
              ** To learn more about Shoreland areas go to:  Shoreland, Wetland Floodplain FAQ at:

  • Town Zoning Jurisdiction – The towns of Black Wolf, Clayton, Nepeuskun, Oshkosh, Poygan, Rushford, Utica, Vinland, Winchester, Winneconne, and Wolf River maintain their
    own zoning jurisdiction for issuing zoning permits only.

  • City and Village Zoning Jurisdiction – All incorporated areas, which include the cities of Appleton, Menasha, Neenah, Omro, and Oshkosh and the villages of Fox Crossing and Winneconne, maintain their own zoning jurisdiction and issue all required permits.