Brown County Zoning Ordinance and Issues

Oct 20, 2020.  UPDATED County Ordinance 10-20-2020

Home Occupation means an accessory use of a dwelling unit for a business, profession, trade or vocation conducted within an enclosed dwelling, which is clearly incidental and secondary to residential occupancy and does not change the residential character thereof.”

Current Events

Feb 25, 2021. Legal action filed —  Sherrie Mitchell — Follow-up in response to the  BZA’s dismissal  of Mitchell’s appeal  (Jerry Cowan case) on Jan 27, 2021

Feb 21, 2021.  BCD. ZONING DISCUSSION: What’s the intent regarding private contractors?By

  • A claim has been repeated several times in recent meetings about the Cowan zoning case that “every private contractor is being made illegal.” …. That is not the intent of the Brown County Area Plan Commission or the planning office.

Feb 21, 2021. Business zoning debates prompt questions about enforcement By  –

  • In at least three recent meetings, residents have questioned the way in which Brown County Planning Director Chris Ritzmann and attorney David Schilling have interpreted and enforced the Brown County zoning ordinance. … Resident Sherrie Mitchell has been the most frequent objector. 

Feb 10, 2021Judge dismisses complaint against logging business, county. By Sara Clifford.

Jan 27, 2021. BZA Meeting Announcement:  Brown County Board of Zoning Appeals — 6 p.m. virtually on Zoom. Agenda includes election of 2021 officers; and Sherrie Mitchell requesting an appeal of a decision made by the director of the APC on Jan. 4, 2021. The deadline for appeal of a director decision made on Sept. 24, 2019 in the Jerry Cowan Verified Complaint has expired. Rules of procedure of the BZA allows only 45 days for such appeals.
  • Appeal was denied – exceeded 45 days.  No  basis for the BZA to hear an appeal  of the settlement agreement by the APC and Cowen that was signed in Nov 2021.

Jan 6, 2021. Rules for home-based businesses spark debate by Sara Clifford

  •  What is the legal process for a person to operate a business on land zoned residential in Brown County if that business is not.
  • What spurred the discussion was a case that was settled out of court between Jerry Cowan of J.C. Lawncare & Snow Removal and the APC.
  • At the December APC meeting, county resident Sherrie Mitchell questioned APC members and their attorney, David Schilling, about what laws Cowan broke and why they decided to sue him.
  • Cowan told the meeting audience that he had four trucks and four enclosed trailers on his property on Ridge Acres Drive.
  • Mitchell’s husband also runs a home-based contractor business, and she and other residents attending the virtual meeting wondered what effect this decision would have on other self-employed people living and working out in the county. … Schilling said that, just like speeding, zoning laws can be interpreted strictly or not, and it would be up to the APC and planning director to decide what to do on a case-by-case basis. The home occupation ordinance has been on the books for years, and rarely has a problem ever been brought up by a neighbor about a contractor parking outside their house, he said.

Jan 5, 2021. Letter: Which home-based businesses aren’t OK and why? by Kevin Fleming

  • To the editor: Last Tuesday evening I joined the Zoom meeting of the county area plan commission. I knew the agenda included a discussion involving…

BCD. Rules for home-based businesses amended.  These regulations also apply to artist studios, APC clarifies By – 3/13/20

  • The Brown County Area Plan Commission and the Brown County Commissioners have approved some changes to the rules that govern home-based businesses, known as the “home occupation” ordinance. “Actually what they have done, I think, gives a lot more flexibility to the home occupation ordinance,” commissioner Diana Biddle said at a public hearing on March 4.

Feb 18, 2020.  BCD… home-based business rules under review, Sara Clifford

    • At the December meeting, board members bought up questions about how the ordinance affects contractors or other businesses that involve trucks or heavy equipment entering and leaving a residential area. The planning office hasn’t traditionally considered contractors to be governed under the “home occupation” rules, but board members pointed out that the ordinance could be read that way.
    • The intent of the home occupation ordinance is to allow a person to operate a business out of his or her home that doesn’t change the residential nature of the neighborhood.
    • The proposed new definition for “home occupation” was “an accessory use of a dwelling unit for a business, profession, trade or vocation conducted within an enclosed dwelling, which is clearly incidental and secondary to residential occupancy and does not change the residential character thereof.” The rules also allow a home occupation to be operated “in an accessory building thereto which is normally associated with a residential use.”

Brown County Area Plan Commission vs Jerry Cowan  Filed Oct 18, 2019

  • Item 8. “Additionally, Cowan has established and operates a lawn care and snow removal business (“the business”) on the Cowan Property.”
    • Note: He only parks his trailers on his property.
  • Item 11.  “The Business does not meet the definition and limitations applicable to home occupation uses and has not be authorized, by permit or special exception approval, to operate as a home occupation. “
    • Note: Typo – assume it was meant “has not been” (vs be) authorized.

Case Settled Nov 20, 2020.

Nov 25, 2020. Appeal filed by Sherrie Mitchell per Section 7.5  Brown  County Zoning Ordinance.  Anyone adversely affected by a decision made by the Planning Director can be appealed to the BZA.

Older Versions of the Ordinance


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