Ordinances and Guidelines

ELIA is providing the below ordinances and guidelines to assist homeowners and residents in the area to better understand their responsibilities and sensible options for preserving the beauty of Elkhart Lake.


Elkhart Lake is located in Sheboygan County and partially under the jurisdiction of the Village of Elkhart Lake and partially by the Town of Rhine. The following are shoreland ordinances that must be followed in regards to each township. See the State of Wisconsin’s DNR Shoreland Protection Program (especially NR 115.05 Minimum zoning standards for shorelands). For Sheboygan County, the county establishes ordinance standards that consider sound forestry and soil conservation practices and the effect of vegetation removal on water quality, including soil erosion, and the flow of effluents, sediments and nutrients. See Chapter 72 Shoreland Ordinance. The Village of Elkhart Lake has its own municipal code to follow, and the Town of Rhine has its own ordinances.


Shoreland Lighting

The rising cost of waterfront property in Wisconsin provides ample evidence of the importance of the shoreland environment to the people that live along it. During the daytime this environment is heavily used for recreation. Artificial lighting allows us to engage in nighttime activities that would be impossible or unsafe under normal nighttime conditions. Whether it’s boating, fishing or simply sitting on the porch to read, our enjoyment of the night is enhanced by the use of artificial light. At the same time, our rivers and lakes at night provide a quiet open dark space that gives us privacy and an opportunity to enjoy the heavens. Balancing the ability to see at night with the desire to preserve the beauty of the night is the goal of sensible shoreland lighting.

Learn more about suggested shoreland lighting to preserve the natural enjoyment.


Shoreland Plants & Landscaping

Owners of existing and new homes typically bring with them traditional landscaping ideas centered on the conventional yard. Too often that means manicured lawns extending to the water’s edge, along with the fertilizer and pesticide applications that are the norm in the cities and villages left behind. Over time, and combined with other sources of pollution, shoreline development can have profound impacts on water quality.

The impacts can be minimized, however, with a landscaping plan that 
places less emphasis on lawns and incorporates a variety of plants adapted to conditions near the water’s edge. See attached PDF that offers suggestions for getting started, and an extensive list of landscape plants suited for Wisconsin’s lakeshores. By following the practical suggestions offered inside, you can improve your property and contribute to the quality of our environment.


Shoreland Stewardship Practices

In order to protect clear water and property values for lake frontage owners, guidelines are to 1) Curb Pollutants 2) Cut Runoff and 3) Capture and cleanse pollutant-carrying runoff before it reaches the waterway.


Impervious Surfaces

Impervious surfaces impact fish, wildlife and property values. Read about the impact of impervious space and seek guidelines for improvement.


Do More!

Looking for ways that you can help the ecology of the Elkhart Lake area? Here are some suggestions to landowners by the Wisconsin DNR