Elimination of Rezone Conversion Fee Requirement
The requirement to collect a rezone conversion fee has been removed from the statutes. The law was changed as a result of 2011 WI ACT 32, the biennial budget bill. Under these changes, any individual requesting a rezone does not need to pay the conversion fee. The local government, however, must follow the other provisions of s. 91.48, Wis. Stats. These include making the following findings, after public hearing:
- The land is better suited for a use not allowed in the farmland preservation zoning district.
- The rezoning is consistent with any applicable comprehensive plan.
- The rezoning is substantially consistent with the county certified farmland preservation plans.
- The rezoning will not substantially impair or limit current or future agricultural use of surrounding parcels of land that are zoned for or legally restricted to agricultural use.
In addition, local governments are still required to provide a report by March 2 of the previous year's rezoning. See s. 91.48(2), 2011. To see the statutory and non-statutory provisions related to the conversion fee, click the links below:
If conversion fees were collected by the local government in 2011 prior to the effective date of the law change, the local government is to retrain the fees and use them for farmland preservation planning, zoning and compliance monitoring. Landowners cannot receive a refund of any conversion fees paid during the time that this requirement was in effect (July 2009 to June 29, 2011).
Some local governments may have updated their farmland preservation zoning ordinances to include provisions related to the conversion fee. These local governments may update their ordinances without notifying the department and without resubmitting their ordinances for certification. Changing the ordinance to reflect the new law will not impact the certification status of the zoning ordinance.
Conversion Fee Still Applies to Land Removed from Farmland Preservation Agreements
The biennial budget bill does not affect the conversion fee associated with land removed from a farmland preservation agreement. A landowner with land covered by a new farmland preservation agreement (signed after January 1, 2011) or a modified farmland preservation agreement (modified after July 1, 2009) who chooses to remove some or all covered land from the agreement MUST pay a conversion fee for each acre removed from the agreement. This conversion fee is equal to 3 times the per acre value, for the year in which the agreement is terminated, of the highest value category of tillable cropland in the city, village, or town in which the land is located, as specified by the department of revenue under s. 73.03(2a).