Zoning FAQ 5
May a municipality adopt or enforce an existing zoning ordinance that allows property owners affected by a proposed rezone to file a protest petition triggering an extraordinary vote requirement to pass the zoning change?
No. 2017 Wis. Act 243 repealed Wis. Stat. § 62.23(7)(d)2m.a, which required a three-fourths vote by the governing body to approve a proposed zoning amendment when a protest petition was filed. Although the statutory protest petition was eliminated, the League opined, at that time, that municipalities could still enact, or leave intact, local ordinances that established a protest petition process like the former Wis. Stat. § 62.23(7)(d)2m.a., because nothing in the law prohibited such ordinances.
However, 2023 Wis. Act 16 created Wis. Stat. § 66.10015(3)(a), which provides that a zoning amendment only requires approval by a simple majority of a quorum of the members-elect. However, a two-thirds vote may still be required for a down zoning ordinance pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 66.10015(3)(b) and for a zoning amendment when an airport protest petition is brought pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 62.23(7)(d)2m.
This new provision does not take effect until January 1, 2025. This delayed effective date is intended to give municipalities time to update any local ordinances that require a now-prohibited super-majority vote for proposed zoning amendments. The League encourages members to start this process now and work with your municipal attorney, if needed, to make any necessary changes.