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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Wisconsin Removes 50-Foot Highway Setback Restriction

by John Casucci 23. February 2015 08:53

From 1999 to 2009, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), acting under Administrative Rule Trans 233, reviewed land divisions for compliance with access, setback, noise and traffic visibility. By far, the most controversial item was the 50-foot highway setback, which prohibited improvements within the 50-foot corridor.

Trans 233 was eventually declared invalid by Dane County Circuit Court Case No. 06-CV-4294, Madison Area Builders Association, et al v. Wisconsin Department of Transportation; et al. From 2009 to present WisDOT has not been reviewing land divisions as a result of the court ruling. The court ordered that Trans 233 revert to the 1996 version, which only applies to subdivision plats, thereby taking away WisDOT’s powers to impose restrictions on other forms of land divisions.

As a result of this court order and upon request, WisDOT will release the setback line on land divisions other than subdivision plats.  As of February 2015 there is a two-step process. A letter of release must be obtained from WisDOT and a correction document prepared. Both documents will be recorded at the Register of Deeds’ office.

If you have a project that has been subjected to the setback restriction (other than by subdivision plat) please contact me at R.A. Smith National at 262-317-3249 or We will be happy to assist you in the removal of the setback restriction.



Avoid Delays, Mitigate Risk by Hiring a Wisconsin DNR Assured Wetland Delineator

by Theran Stautz 11. February 2015 04:00

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ assured wetland delineation program provides property owners and developers with several key benefits:  a high level of accuracy in delineating wetland boundaries for project planning purpose; cost and time savings for the property owner or developer; and enhanced protection of Wisconsin wetland boundaries based on highly accurate wetland delineations.

By hiring an assured wetland delineator, a property owner or developer can save up to 60 days of WDNR review time and $300 per 20 acres in review fees – a significant savings particularly when time is of the essence to get a project through the approval process and/or a large site is involved. These time and cost savings are possible since an assured wetland delineator is not required to obtain WDNR concurrence. Because of the program’s thorough review and rigorous approval process for assured wetland delineators, clients can be confident that their assured wetland delineation provides a high level of accuracy and is completed to WDNR standards. The WDNR’s high standards for assured wetland delineators and the level of effort that is provided reduces the likelihood of delays in state permit decisions. (It is important to note that assured wetland delineations still require the approval of the US Army Corps of Engineers.)

R.A. Smith National’s Heather Patti and myself (Theran Stautz) are two of just nine assured wetland delineators in Wisconsin. Heather has been in the program since 2009. I have been in the program since 2011. Combined, Heather and I have completed more than 100 assured wetland delineations.

Assured wetland delineators must have or meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree in natural sciences or resources
  • Completion of a 40-hour wetland delineation training course
  • > 5 Years of full-time professional experience performing wetland related services
  • Demonstrated proficiency in applying the 1987 COE Manual and Regional Supplements in wetland delineation report preparation
  • Continuing education coursework requirements
  • Submittal of all wetland reports to WDNR for periodic review of a select few
  • Completion of one field review annually

If you would like more information about R.A. Smith National’s ecological services, or are in need of wetland delineation services, please contact me in our Madison, Wis. office at 608-467-2685, ext. 3298 or or contact Heather Patti in our Brookfield, Wis. office at 262-317-3361 or








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