Arbor Vitae's town board is asking the Vilas County zoning department to add a minimum house size to the county's zoning ordinance.
The action to formally request that was taken at the town board's Aug. 2 meeting.
The minimum house size, as outlined in the town's ordinance, is 768 square feet.
Town chairman Frank Bauers said when the town enacted its ordinance outlining the 768 square foot minimum requirement in 1992, it was because people were buying lots and placing old mobile homes on them.
He also noted the county doesn't have a 768 square foot minimum included as part of its ordinance.
"The county is in the process of rewriting their ordinances," Bauers said. "So, if we request them to put that in, that would be a good thing."
At its July 19 meeting, the town board levied a fine of $500 for Thomas Wurtz, who had a mobile home moved onto land on North Farming Road.
Bauers explained at that meeting it was something he'd been dealing with since May.
Wurtz's mobile home was a 1981 model he eventually sold and as of July 7, was no longer on the property.
However, by that time, he had accrued a total of $1,900 in fines, for the mobile home not being in compliance with the town ordinance and the property's driveway entrance also being non-compliant.
Bauers said he had given Wurtz a copy of the town's ordinance and he was in violation. "You can park a mobile home in our town, it can be on a private lot, but you have to have permits to do it," he said then. "You have to get permits from our building inspector for the foundation and everything. Has to be a minimum of 768 square feet."
Town clerk Mary Reuland added it also has to be a current model year.
At last week's meeting, Bauers said the request was being made because the town's building inspector, Rick Clem, said "tiny houses are getting to be a problem."
Reuland said she had checked with the Wisconsin Towns Association and was assured it was fine to outline in the town's ordinance requirements for a permanent foundation and a current year model of mobile home.
"They said, 'Just get your county to say 768 square feet is the minimum requirement for a house,'" she told the board, adding she had talked to Vilas County zoning administrator Dawn Schmidt.
"Dawn was up for that," Reuland said. "She said because they were going over it (the county zoning ordinance), just put it in a meeting and make a motion we ask the county to please put 768 square feet minimum into the Vilas County ordinance."
Reuland said if someone should want something less than the 768 square feet, Schmidt suggested the town look at an area where it might accept tiny houses.
"Because she didn't want to leave it out entirely," she said. "That would be discriminatory."
Reuland said Schmidt had suggested forestry, which requires the purchase of five acres to build.
"You could tell someone if they want to build a tiny house, it has to be in forestry," she said. "She just made a recommendation. You could say it needs to go somewhere else but ..."
"Well, as long as they're mobile," supervisor Jeff Hunter said. "Most of them are mobile. Tell 'em to put it in a mobile home park."
Mobile home parks aren't subject to the same ordinance.
"And really, that's why we say 'Permanent foundation,'" Reuland said.
"That's septic system and everything then," supervisor Ryan Johnson said. "So, if it's on wheels, chances are there's no septic system."
"The biggest thing we could fine Mr. Wurtz for is he didn't have any building permits and it wasn't a current year model," Bauers said.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.