Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
November 2003
Understanding Wisconsin's Commercial Regulatory Model

One step to realizing commercial building projects in Wisconsin is to know whom to contact before, during and after the construction phase. For many years this simple step was defined by the certification status of our municipalities. The municipalities recognized as certified were delegated the authority to perform limited plan examination as well as inspection of either those structures they reviewed, or inspection of all structures, on behalf of the Department of Commerce. Following a change to the administrative rules, Commerce restructured the options available to our municipalities. First-class cities, second-class cities, certified municipalities and authorized agents, along with inspection delegation without plan review, are all options now available to municipalities and counties.

The city of Milwaukee is currently the only first-class city in Wisconsin delegated the plan examination and inspection authority as prescribed by the administrative rules. The first-class status of the municipality as defined by state statute is the basis for this delegation, which requires review and inspection of all buildings and structures within the city limits.

The delegation of second-class city is also based on a municipality accepting second class city status as prescribed by state statute. Under the delegation of second-class city the municipality also shall accept plan review and inspection delegation of all buildings and structures located within the city limits. Proposed projects can be submitted to either Commerce or the delegated second-class city for review.

Certified municipalities continue to be authorized for the following: new buildings not exceeding 50,000 cubic feet; additions to existing buildings that will result in the total building volume not exceeding 50,000 cubic feet; and alterations not exceeding 100,000 cubic feet. The new rules expanded the delegation to include review of additions up to 2,500 square feet with maximum roof spans of 18 feet and maximum wall height of 12 feet to all buildings. Proposed projects can be submitted to either Commerce or the delegated municipality for review.

The delegation of authorized agent provides cities, towns, villages or counties the flexibility to request from the department desired responsibilities of plan review. A municipality or county may request plan examination delegation based on construction classification, occupancy classification or any combination of review parameters. Proposed projects can be submitted to either Commerce or the delegated municipality for review.

An additional requirement associated with plan examination is that the reviewing authority performing the plan examination follow through with the inspection of those projects.

The delegation of conducting only inspection of buildings and structures as a deputy of Commerce is also available to municipalities.

With so many options available, your first step is to contact the municipality in which your project is located. Ask what permits you need locally. Ask if there are local inspectors to help figure things out. At this time, you can ask if the local municipality has been delegated agent status on behalf of Commerce. Ask what permits you may need from other agencies. Ask in what order will requirements need to be met.

Your second step is to contact the county planning or zoning department. Ask if they have authority over the property you have in mind. Ask if they know of any other permits or processes to which you should pay attention.

Commerce currently has agent municipality information based on the various delegations available on its Web site. When preparing for a commercial building project, contact the specific municipality or Henry Kosarzycki, Agent Program Manager, 262/ 548-8615 or hkosarzycki@commerce.state.wi.us regarding delegation authority information.

--Henry Kosarzycki

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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