Is My 23 Year Old Business Grandfathered From the Fire Code in Wisconsin?

Full Question:

i own a tavern in wi for 23 years during a fire inspection i was told i need a fire suppression device for a griddle ive had for 23 years am i grandfathered in or not
12/21/2010   |   Category: Zoning   |   State: Wisconsin   |   #23854


The answer will depend on whether a grandfather clause was included in the legislation when the applicable code was adopted. We suggest contacting the local building department to view a copy of the specific code cited in the violation. The following is an example of such a grandfather clause:

14.50 GRANDFATHER CLAUSE. This subchapter shall not affect any satellite antenna erected prior to June 28, 1985.

It may be possible to petition for a special use permit or variance. The most common way of providing relief from the provisions of a municipal ordinance is through the granting of a variance. This is an authorization to use land or to operate a business in a way that would otherwise be prohibited by the ordinance. It is also used to give relief from, or permit reduction of, one or more requirements of the ordinance as applied to a particular site.

Please see the following from the Wisconsin Administrative Code:

Comm 20.19 Petition for variance.

Comm 20.19 Petition for variance.

The department may grant a variance to a rule only if the variance does not result in lowering the level of health, safety and welfare established or intended by the rule. The department may consider other criteria in determining whether a variance should be granted including the effect of the variance on uniformity.

(1) APPLICATION FOR VARIANCE. The applicant shall submit the petition for variance application to the municipality exercising jurisdiction in order to receive the municipal recommendation. Where no municipality exercises jurisdiction, the application shall be submitted to the department. The following items shall be submitted when requesting a variance:

(a) A clear written statement of the specific provisions of this code from which a variance is requested and the method of establishing equivalency to those provisions.

(b) A fee in accordance with s. Comm 2.52. The municipality may require a fee for the processing of the application in addition to the department's fee.

Note: A copy of the Petition for Variance form (SBD-9890) is contained in the Appendix.

(2) MUNICIPAL RECOMMENDATION. The municipality administering and enforcing this code shall submit all applications for variance to the department, together with a municipal recommendation within 10 business days after receipt of the application. The recommendation of the municipality shall include the following items:

(a) Inspections performed on the property.

(b) The issuance of correction orders on the property.

(c) An assessment of the overall impact of the variance on the municipality.

Note: A copy of the Municipal Recommendation form (SBD-9890) is contained in the Appendix.

(3) DEPARTMENTAL ACTION. Where a municipality administers and enforces the code, the department shall decide petitions for variance and shall mail notification to the municipality and the applicant within 5 business days after receipt of the application and municipal recommendation. Where the department enforces the code, the department shall decide petitions for variance within 15 business days after receipt of the application and fees.

(4) APPEALS. A person or municipality may appeal the determination of the department in the manner set out in s. 101.02 (6) (e) to (i) and (8), Stats.