Zoning in Wisconsin varies by type, class, and authoritative jurisdiction. Zoning type and zoning class definitions may also vary between jurisdictions, making them potentially incompatible with one another. For this reason, zoning can be difficult to seamlessly aggregate at regional and statewide scales and it is generally best to contact the authoritative jurisdiction for the most complete zoning data.
Before beginning a search, it is useful to first understand some key concepts:
Zoning Type: General zoning is the most common zoning type, it is also referred to as comprehensive zoning and it serves many purposes. There are various additional types of zoning, each designed to serve a specific purpose, examples include: farmland preservation, floodplain, and shoreland zoning types. Zoning types are geometrically distinct from one another and necessarily overlap in most cases.
Zoning Class: Each zoning type is categorized by class. In GIS this is typically achieved through a field in the attribute table. It should be noted that some jurisdictions combine zoning type and class in one GIS layer, requiring a query to segregate types as needed.
Authoritative Jurisdiction: Zoning authority is defined by Wisconsin statute and is best described in matrix form. Page 13 (pg. 22 in PDF) of the Zoning Board Handbook provides a reference matrix to the statutory authority for zoning. This map provides an overview of general zoning authority exercised by cities, villages and towns across the state.
Zoning data may be found through various sources, including municipal, county and regional planning commission sites. Additionally, the Statewide Parcel Map Initiative has published GIS layers covering GIS zoning administered by the county. The zoning layer compiled in spring/summer of 2016 can be found at the Statewide Parcel Initiative’s data distribution page.
Wisconsin’s first publicly available statewide county administered zoning dataset was released to the public on August 31st, 2016. This layer does not crosswalk zoning classes and maintains locale-specific definitions. The five county administered zoning layers contain field definitions within their respective attribute tables. See the V3 Parcel project’s data page for download links and documentation. See the Statewide Parcel Map Initiative data distribution website for more about this project.
Regional Planning Commission
Some Wisconsin regional planning commissions are able to provide GIS zoning data or other zoning information. Data from RPCs may only be available upon request and may require a fee.