The Latest: Senate panel OKs wetland exemptions bill
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on a bill that would allow developers to build on wetlands without permits (all times local):
The state Senate’s natural resources committee has signed off on a Republican bill that would allow builders to fill state wetlands without a permit.
The committee approved the bill 3-2 Thursday afternoon, clearing the way for a full Senate floor vote.
The bill allows developers to fill up to an acre of urban wetlands as well as up to three acres of non-urban wetlands without a permit.
Builders who fill more than 10,000 square feet of an urban wetland would have to mitigate square footage equal to the portion of fill exceeding 10,000 feet. Builders who fill non-urban wetlands wouldn’t have to mitigate unless they fill more than 1.5 acres.
Representatives from two well-known sporting groups are explaining why they no longer oppose a bill that would allow developers to fill state wetlands without permits.
Ducks Unlimited and Wisconsin Trout Unlimited Inc. both initially opposed the bill, saying it would lead to widespread loss of wildlife habitat. Sen. Robert Cowles released revisions Wednesday that would shrink the acreage that could be filled and require more mitigation.
Both groups say they’re now neutral on the bill. Ducks Unlimited volunteer Bruce Ross told reporters during a news conference Thursday that the new language still leaves wetlands at risk but protects more acreage than the original bill.
Trout Unlimited volunteer Mike Kuhr echoed Ross, saying the changes make the bill better. He says the mitigation requirements will make developers think twice but the organization doesn’t believe in filling wetlands.
A legislative committee is preparing to approve a Republican bill that would allow builders to fill state wetlands without a permit.
The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy is set to vote on the measure Thursday afternoon. Approval would clear the way for a full Senate floor vote.
Under the bill, developers could fill up to an acre of urban wetlands without a permit if the activity doesn’t disturb a high-quality wetland. The bill defines urban wetlands as wetlands that lie within a half-mile of an incorporated area or an area with a sewer system.
Builders also would be allowed to fill up to three acres per parcel of wetlands outside urban areas as long as the activity doesn’t disturb a high-quality wetland.