Land Use

Land Use Map

Preferred Land Use Plan

The Preferred Land Use Plan map represents the desired arrangement of future land use in the town. This plan is intended to reflect community desires and provide justification for local officials when making decisions regarding conservation and development in the Town of Linn.

Residential Development District

The Residential Development District is intended to focus residential development in the proximity of Geneva Lake, where existing concentrations of residences are already located.

  1. Future residential development shall be steered to the north and south shores of Geneva Lake. Most of the development on the south shore should be located north of South Lakeshore Drive.
  2. Future residential development shall be of a scale and character, which reflects the low density, rural character of the town.
  3. Future residential development should make use of conservation subdivision concepts, dedication of open space, and site design standards to reduce the visual impacts of new development.
  4. Residential subdivisions should not be allowed in agricultural areas, except where designated for such use on the Year 2025 Preferred Land Use map.
  5. Appropriate Walworth County Zoning Districts include R1, Single Family Residential, which requires 40,000 square feet lots that are 150 feet wide. Also, R5, Planned Residential will be considered to facilitate conservation subdivisions, provided the overall density does not exceed that allowed within the R1 district.

Residential Conservation Subdivision District

The Residential Conservation Subdivision District is intended to allow for new residential development adjacent to areas of existing development. This district is intended to be transitional in intensity from residential to agricultural areas. This requires that development have a significant natural or open space component, which preserves some of the rural character and rural setting of the area. Conservation subdivision concepts are further defined and illustrated in the Housing element. The town should reference the Walworth County Subdivision Ordinance for standards relating to the design of conservation subdivisions.

  1. Conservation subdivisions are preferred and should be based on a density of one lot per five acres. The Plan Commission can make allowances for more density depending on the design of the subdivision and protection of significant portions of open space.
  2. The maximum lot size within a conservation subdivision should be two acres in order to maintain significant amounts of open space.
  3. The remaining land or open space within a conservation subdivision shall be restricted from further development by deed or covenant and held for private use only.
  4. Appropriate Walworth County Zoning Districts include R5, Planned Residential based on a one to five acre density depending on design of the subdivision, and A2, Agricultural Land District, which requires 20 acres and 300 feet of frontage on a public road.

Joint Planning Area District

The Joint Planning Area District is an overlay district intended to provide additional guidance to address future development adjacent to neighboring villages and the city. The Joint Planning Area is intended to promote intergovernmental cooperation with neighboring incorporated municipalities. It is further intended that the town pursues boundary agreements in these areas to define future land use, phasing of development, and the possibility for shared service agreements prior to any development. In general, the Joint Planning Area District corresponds to future urban service areas as identified within the neighboring municipality’s comprehensive plan.

  1. Sanitary sewer extensions shall not occur, unless consistent with a detailed boundary agreement with the appropriate incorporated municipality.
  2. If residential development is to occur in the Joint Planning Area without a detailed boundary agreement, the development shall be at a density of one unit per five acres consistent with the underlying Residential Conservation Subdivision district identified on the Town of Linn Preferred Land Use Plan
  3. The Town of Linn shall maintain agricultural preservation policies for land zoned A-1, Prime Agricultural in the Joint Planning Area. Sewer and water services should only be provided to this area as agreed upon and detailed within a boundary agreement.
  4. Development within the Joint Planning Area shall be phased outward from the urban edge of a neighboring incorporated municipality.
  5. The town shall investigate opportunities to provide sewer service (without annexation) to areas where it is needed and supported by local residents. Examples of areas that could be provided with sewer service may include portions of the north shore through the Geneva National Sanitary District, and/or portions of the south shore through agreements with the Villages of Fontana and Walworth.
  6. Appropriate Walworth County Zoning Districts include R5, Planned Residential based on a five acre density for areas designated Residential Conservation Subdivision District within the Joint Planning Area. If the extension of sanitary sewer is agreed upon within a detailed boundary agreement, the appropriate Walworth County Zoning Districts may include R2, Single Family Residential Sewered, which requires 15,000 square feet per lot and 100 feet of frontage on a public road. In addition the R2A district, which requires 50,000 square feet per lot, could also be considered.

Agricultural District

The Agricultural District is intended to maintain, preserve, and enhance prime agricultural lands. Prime agricultural lands have been defined by Walworth County as “Parcels covered at least in half by soils in agricultural capability classes I, II, and III. Prime agricultural lands were identified in the initial application of the county’s A1, Prime Agricultural Land District as a part of the comprehensive rezoning undertaken by the county in 1974.

The preservation of prime agricultural lands may be expected to have a number of important benefits. Preserving area for agriculture can help avoid conflicts, which may arise between farm operations and abutting residential area; help to maintain an important sector of the town and county’s economy; help control public service costs in rural areas, avoiding the need to extend urban services to scattered, isolated residential areas; help to preserve productive soils – an irreplaceable resource – for future generations; and help to maintain the scenic beauty, rural character, and cultural heritage of the Town of Linn.

  1. Farm related land divisions in the A-1, Prime Agricultural Zoning District shall require a minimum 35 acres, consistent with Walworth County Exclusive Agriculture Zoning. Land divisions of one to five acres may be allowed under certain conditions for the separation of existing farm structures from farmland under the Farm Consolidation Provisions of the Walworth County Zoning Ordinance.
  2. Areas of existing zoning other than A1, including A2, A3 and A4, shall continue and develop agricultural residences and businesses consistent with Walworth County Zoning.
  3. Section 7.3 of the Intergovernmental Cooperation element addresses concerns raised by the local farming community in relation to the policies and restrictions of this district.

Commercial Development District

The Commercial Development District is intended to allow for limited commercial development, such as agricultural support businesses, and small-scale businesses to serve permanent and seasonal residents, and visitors to the area. The town recognizes that the adjacent communities of Lake Geneva, Williams Bay, and Fontana are the commercial centers of the area. Commercial development is not planned as a major enterprise in terms of the scale of operations, or the extent of land devoted to such uses.

  1. All development shall receive site plan approval for access, parking, lighting, screening, vehicle storage, noise and dust control, and stormwater management. Site planning is important to address the site design and look of the building, and to help maintain the rural character of the town. The town shall avoid franchise architecture designs that do not respect the local character of the community.
  2. A landscape buffer shall be required between commercial properties and adjacent residential development.
  3. A linear or strip commercial development pattern shall be avoided by concentrating development at the four quadrants of the STH 120/Willow Road intersection to create a compact development pattern.
  4. Existing commercial businesses located individually around the town may be continued and considered for expansion.
  5. Access shall meet or exceed minimum intersection setback requirements established by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).
  6. The Town of Linn should plan to jointly review all land divisions abutting STH 20 with WisDOT, as required by Trans 233.
  7. Local commercial development should be restricted to development, which can be served by access from local roads.

Appropriate Walworth County Zoning Districts include the B1, Local Business, and B2, General Business Districts. These districts allow neighborhood scale commercial development such as restaurants, stores, gift shops, banking, real estate, medical, and legal offices. Gas stations are not a permitted use in these districts. Rather, gas stations are a conditional use, which would allow the town to utilize site design guidelines to negotiate development that is consistent with the rural character of the town.

Zenda Town Center District

The Town Center District is created to promote Zenda as the center of government services in the town. Consistent with the existing land use pattern, and Traditional Neighborhood Development concepts, a mix of uses, such as residential, commercial, recreation, light industrial, and transportation facilities would be allowed.

  1. The Town of Linn should develop a strategic plan for Zenda based on traditional neighborhood development concepts, and to study the economic viability of neighborhood commercial development within Zenda.
  2. The density, layout, and design of development shall be compatible with surrounding residential uses and character.
  3. Commercial and industrial development shall meet appropriate guidelines for waste disposal, lighting, noise, dust, and vibration control, visual screening, transportation access and circulation, and other standards deemed appropriate by the Town of Linn Plan Commission and Town Board.
  4. A landscape buffer shall be required between commercial and industrial properties, and adjacent residential development.

Environmental Corridor District

Environmental Corridors consist of seven natural resource elements including 1) lakes, rivers, and streams and the associated shorelands and floodlands; 2) wetlands; 3) woodlands; 4) prairies; 5) wildlife habitat areas; 6) wet, poorly drained, and organic soils; and 7) rugged terrain and high relief topography.

  1. In general, development should be steered away from these areas.
  2. Appropriate Walworth County Zoning Districts include the C-1, Lowland Resource Conservation District, the C-2 Upland Resource Conservation District, the C-3 Conservancy Residential District, and the C-4 Lowland Resource Conservation District.

Private Golf Course

This district is intended to identify the existing location of the Lake Geneva Country Club Golf Course.

Land Use Goals and Objectives

Goal:   Avoid incompatible land uses within the town of Linn.

Supporting Objectives
  1. Identify preferred areas for rural residential growth outside of existing developed areas such that impacts on productive farmland, natural area and open space are minimized.
  2. Maintain extensive open space as a key component of land use.
  3. Use the concepts of clustering, site design, landscaping and location controls for all development to maximize and emphasize rural land qualities.
  4. Subdivision and cluster-type development should be used to fulfill the desired quota of development in the town.
  5. Require the dedication of parkland or greenspace as part of subdivision approval.

Land Use Policies

Land use policies are contained within the description of each of the Preferred Land Use districts.