Zoning Board Handbook

The primary role of a zoning board of adjustment/appeals is to review and decide case where there is an alleged error in a zoning decision or where a relaxation of the ordinance is sought. 

The Zoning Board Handbook is intended to assist zoning board members, local government officials and citizens in understanding the role of the zoning board and the procedures and standards with which their decisions must comply. The handbook is available for download in pdf format free of charge, or in print* for $25.00 by completing the handbook order form

* Printed copies of the Zoning Board Handbook are in black and white print.

Zoning Board Handbook, 2nd Edition, 2006 Order Form 
Complete the handbook order form. You can also email, landcenter@uwsp.edu or call the Center for Land Use Education, 715-346-3783 to order copies. 


Zoning Board Handbook Resources

Administrative Appeal Application

Conditional Use Application

Variance Application

Decision Form

Decision Self-Audit Form

Hearing Appearance Slip

General Zoning Resources

Map of Zoning in Wisconsin Communities

Zoning Ordinances

This factsheet describes the use of local zoning ordinances to regulate land uses, densities and dimensional standards such as lot sizes, setbacks and building height limitations. 


Zoning is one tool used to carry out community goals and objectives as set forth in a comprehensive or land use plan.  This compilation by Struck covers such topics as zoning powers and developing a zoning ordinance to extraterritorial zoning.

To Play the Game - You Need to Know the Rules: Town-county relationships in zoning administration 

Towns and counties have separate, well-defined roles in adoption, amendment and exceptions to general zoning.

Zoning Nonconformities 

Helps communities find an appropriate balance between private rights in continued use of existing development and the public purposes of new land use regulations.  Printed copies are available at no charge.  If you would like to order printed copies, you may e-mail landcenter@uwsp.edu or call 715-346-3783.

The Zoning and Conditional Use Permit Survey was conducted by the Center for Land Use Education in October 2020. The survey responses include towns, villages, cities, counties and others includings airport, regional planning commission, and consultant representing mulitple leverls of governement.​

  Websites for accessing Wisconsin court cases (download the document or visit these links):

  •  DNR's Zoning case law summaries in Wisconsin: Cases relevant to shoreland and floodplain zoning in Wisconsin; published decisions of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, DNR Publication # WT-540, Revised October 2004

Zoning Board Workshops

Zoning refers to the use of the public regulatory power to specify how land may be used and developed. The intent of zoning is to balance individual property right with the rights of the general public to a healthy, safe and orderly living environment. 
The Center for Land Use Education offers zoning board of adjustment/appeals workshops serving multi-county areas of Wisconsin. Workshops are designed for newly appointed zoning board members, veteran zoning board members tackling complex issues, and planning and zoning staff whose job it is to support the zoning board.
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