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Zoning and Land Information


Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Zoning?

The goal of zoning is to ensure the public’s health, safety, and welfare and to foster orderly development. Zoning controls the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be located.

Zoning laws typically specify the areas in which residential, industrial, recreational, or commercial activities may take place.


Who Controls Zoning?

Zoning is a purely a county, city, or municipal affair. Though such laws are somewhat universal, the classifications used to describe zoning are not uniform from place to place. For instance, it is not uncommon to find that zoning rules that apply to one part of the community are different in another part of the town, or that one town does a mix of residential uses with some commercial uses, but a neighboring community might outlaw such mix.


What Projects/Activities Require A Permit?

A Zoning Occupancy (ZO) permit is required for construction, relocation, structural alteration or additions to buildings or structures, except that accessory structures 100 square feet or less and located outside of the Floodplain and Shoreland Districts do not require a permit. Please note that buildings exempt from permitting requirements must still meet applicable setbacks and performance standards.  A ZO is needed to change the use of a building (e.g., agricultural to residential accessory).

A Floodplain Land Use Permit is required for the construction of, or repair, modification, or addition to a structure, the change of use of a structure located in the Floodplain District.

A Shoreland Permit is required for any development within 300' of a navigable river/creek/streams, within 1000' of a navigable lake, within a floodplain, or within a wetland.


Do I Need Permits From Other Agencies For My Project?

Depending on the project, permits in addition to a ZO permit may be required from the County Health, Highway Department, or Land Conservation Departments. A building permit may also be required from your local government. Please inquire if you are unsure what permits are required. 


What Areas Are Within The County's Zoning Jurisdiction?

La Crosse County administers Zoning, Sign, Public Works, & Telecom ordinances in all unincorporated towns of La Crosse County except Campbell and Burns Townships. The County administers Floodplain and Shoreland Ordinances in all unincorporated areas of the County.  La Crosse County does not have zoning authority within the Cities of La Crosse or Onalaska, or the Villages of Bangor, Holmen, and Rockland.


What Is The Process For Applying For A Zoning Occupancy Permit?

Applications are accepted from the landowner or representative.  Forms accessed on the department website should be completed and submitted with a site map, construction plans, other necessary attachments, and application fee.

Applications are processed in the order they are received, and processing time is typically 1-2 weeks. 

Please note that your zoning permit cannot be issued until all other applicable permits are in place.


What Are The Fees And How Can They Be Paid?

A fee schedule can be accessed here: Fee Schedule

Credit cards are accepted online; cash, check, or cards are accepted in person.


Where Can I Find Information About My Property?

Information including zoning maps, parcel identification numbers, permitting histories, and much more can be accessed via public facing-maps available online at the Land Information GIS Web App Portal


Do I Need A Permit For Home Occupation?

Many home occupations require approval from the County, and requirements vary among Districts. Please refer to Ordinance section 17.04(1)(h) and contact Zoning Staff.


May I Store Unlicensed And/Or Inoperable Vehicles And Other Debris Outdoors On My Property?

The County Ordinance prohibits of storage of vehicles in public view. One vehicle may be stored out of ordinary public view.  Machinery and equipment actively engaged in agriculture is exempt.


Am I Able To Split My Property And Sell Lots?

Subdivision provisions are contained in County Ordinance Chapter 18 and are administered by the County Surveyor. Conveyances that do not constitute a subdivision, but where the conveyance is less than a whole parcel of land should be discussed with Zoning Staff to ensure conformity with Ordinances.


Is More Than One Residence Allowed On A Property?

More than one residence can be permitted on a single parcel within the Residential C District. In all other districts a conditional use permit is required.


How Many Accessory Buildings Can I Have On My Property?

The amount and size of accessory buildings permittable on a lot is dependent on the lot area. Please see number 13, and please refer to Section 17.14(1) Ordinance 17


What Setbacks Are Applied To Structure Placement?

Please refer to the setback TAB on the website.


What Is Farmland Preservation?

The Farmland Preservation program provides tools to ensure the County's farmland is available and viable for future generations.


What Uses Are Allowed In My Zoning District?

Allowable uses in each district are listed in Zoning Ordinance 17 Ordinance 17


What Animals Can I Keep On My Property?

Small quantities of specific animals are allowable in certain circumstances in the Residential A & B Districts, refer to the requirements for household livestock in section 17.03. Agriculture livestock can be kept in the unplatted areas of the agriculture zoned districts (i.e., Exclusive Ag, General Ag, and Rural). Depending on the proposal, the Land Conservation Department may determine that a permit is required.


Do I Need A Permit For A Deck, Fence, Pool, Solar Panel Installation, Building On Skids, Or Sign?

Yes, anything that occupies a place or space on the ground is considered a structure and requires a permit.


What Is A Legal Nonconforming “Grandfathered” Use?

A legal nonconforming use is a use that is prohibited under the current ordinance but was lawfully established prior to the adoption of the ordinance and has not been discontinued.


May I Do The Work Myself Or Do I Have To Hire A Contractor?

La Crosse County does not require a contractor’s license for many types of work; however, state or town codes may have licensure requirements. Applications for work within the floodplain or shoreland may also require review and/or certifications from an engineer.


Do I Need A Permit For Remodeling Or Adding Improvements To A Building?

No permit is required for projects that do not involve a structural alteration to the three-dimensional footprint of the building.


How Can I Locate My Property Lines?

La Crosse County maintains a public-facing parcel viewer Land Information GIS Web App Portal that provides information which may be used to gain a general understanding of property lines. While great effort is made to provide accurate information, the County does not warrant the accuracy of this information, and for applications that require more precision, a licensed surveyor should be engaged.


When Is An Address Assigned?

An address is assigned when the final permit for a principal use is issued.


Do I Need A Permit To Locate And Use A Recreational Vehicle (I.E., Camper)?

Campers are allowed as an authorized use in the Recreational and Natural Resource District. Campers require a conditional use permit in the General Agricultural and Exclusive Agricultural Districts. 


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