TOC Plan Committee Handbook 2023-2043 Comprehensive Plan


2023-2043 Comprehensive Plan

for the

Town of Clover

  Prepared by the Town Plan Commission for use by the volunteers of the 2023-2043 Comprehensive Plan Committee


Herbster, Wisconsin

July 2022


Table of Contents

Chapter / Page

Introduction  . . . . . . . . . .      3

State Statutes, County Ordinances, and Town Ordinances   . . . . . . . . . .     5

The Town of Clover Plan Commission since 2010  . . . . . . . . .    6

Elements of a Comprehensive Plan  . . . . . . . . . .    8

Project Description  . . . . . . . . . .  10

Coastal Management Grant Record Keeping  . . . . . . . . . .    12

Website Resources    . . . . . . . . . .   13


The volunteers who work on the 2023-2043 Town of Clover Comprehensive Plan beginning on July 1, 2022 and ending on June 30, 2023 are the primary audience for this Plan Committee Handbook.

This Handbook consists of a description of the Plan development process, background information, and a list of website resources that may be useful to all who are involved:  Plan Committee participants, Plan Commission members, and Town Board members.

The five member Town Plan Commission is responsible for overseeing the development of the Comprehensive Plan and for recommending a proposed Plan to the Town’s Board of Supervisors.  The chair of the Town Plan Commission (TPC) will select from volunteers the Plan Committee chair or co-chairs and Work Group leaders, and will be the point of contact between the Plan Committee and the Town Plan Commission, Town Board, and Town Clerk.

The Plan Committee’s organizational structure will be somewhat flexible and will develop as needs dictate over the course of the year-long project.

The budget for this project is $18,046.  The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program has provide grant funds of $8,936.  The balance of the budget will be matched by in-kind time and services.

Cooperation with Bayfield County as it prepares a new Comprehensive Plan, and the contractual agreement (sometime after July 1, 2023) between the Town of Clover and the Northwest Regional Planning Commission will be important components as to how the Plan Committee evolves.  The TPC chair is a member of the Bayfield County Plan Committee.

Because this is a once every 20-year project, there is no set-in stone roadmap for the Plan Committee.

The Town Plan Commission emphasizes the following values:

  1. Everyone is welcome to participate.
  2. All opinions and ideas will be considered.
  3. Meetings will be open, and documents will be available to the public.
  4. The Comprehensive Plan section of the Town’s website will be kept up to date.

Beginning in July 2023 volunteers will be sought for Plan Committee and the subject matter work groups listed below.  Work group leaders will be members of the Plan Committee.  Work group leaders will be responsible for the work of each group.  The subject areas overlap one another in many cases, and the Plan Committee chair or co-chairs will coordinate the work groups as necessary.


There will be at least five Work Groups:

  1. Coastal Resources
  2. Agricultural, Natural, and Cultural Resources
  3. Housing, Transportation, Utilities and Community Facilities, Economic Development, and Intergovernmental Cooperation
  4. Issues, Opportunities, and Implementation
  5. Land Use and Future Land Use Map


An approximate timeline for the project follows:

July 2022: Town Plan Commission formed Plan Committee begins regular meetings.  The Committee will consist of volunteers recruited after a public announcement of the 2023-2043 Plan process. Agreements with the contractor and Bayfield County will be put in place.

August:  Contractor facilitates first community meeting to explore community member priorities and concerns, focusing on coastal resources.  Plan Committee, Plan Commission, and contractor develop questions for a community survey.

September:  Contractor prepares and distributes survey to property owners and community members.

October:  Data research continues, and information is organized.  Plan Commission and Plan Committee hold public meetings.

November:  Contractor provides Plan Committee and Plan Commission with survey results.

December through April:  Plan Committee and Plan Commission hold public meetings and analyze data and survey results.  County wide Plan meetings will likely occur.

May:  Contractor facilitates second community meeting. Plan Committee, Plan Commission, and contractor prepare draft of the Plan.  The Town Board reviews and discusses the Plan.

June:  Contractor facilitates third community meeting to present the proposed Plan.  Plan Committee finalizes the Plan.  Plan Commission approves Plan and submits it to the Town Board for final approval by ordinance.


State Statutes, County Ordinances, and Town Ordinances

State of Wisconsin

In 1999 (amended in 2015) the State adopted a “Smart Growth” law, which provided a framework for comprehensive plans for counties, cities, villages, and towns (Section 66.1001, Wisconsin Statutes).


Bayfield County

The Bayfield County Zoning Ordinance (the Code) dated 6/1/1976 and revised often applies to the Town of Clover.  The Code includes 14 zoning districts and approximately 200 land uses.  The land uses are prohibited, permitted, or permitted by special or conditional use in each of the 14 districts.

The Code specifies 17 Decision Making Considerations when acting on a special or conditional use permit.  Item 2 of the 17 is “Consistency with Town Comprehensive Plan.”

The Code specifies 9 Decision Making Considerations when rezoning parcels.  Item 2 of the 9 is “Consistency with Town Comprehensive Plan.”  Item 3 is “Review future land use map for future land use designation and narrative.”


Town of Clover

In November 1999 the Town of Clover (TOC) established a TOC Land Use Committee to prepare a plan for the Town.

In 2003 TOC Ordinance #9/16/03-1 adopted the Land Use Committee’s Comprehensive Plan (including the TOC Future Land Use Map) to guide land use through 2023.

In 2010 TOC Ordinance #101210-1 established the TOC Plan Commission.

In August 2013 the TOC Board adopted the Plan Commission’s Amendment Number One to the TOC Comprehensive Plan (due to oversight the Ordinance was passed later in 2014, #20140813).

In October 2021 the TOC Board adopted TOC Resolution #20211013 supporting comprehensive planning and the TOC Plan Commission’s preparation of Amendment Number Two, a 2023-2043 Comprehensive Plan.


The Town of Clover Plan Commission Since 2010

The current Town Plan Commission (TPC) was created by a 2010 ordinance (see Reference Sheet #1).  A TPC was in place from 2001-2010 without a detailed ordinance.

The 2010 ordinance provides for the purpose of the TPC  “ . . . to  further the health, safety, welfare and wise use of resources for the benefit of current and future residents of the Town and comprehensive planning with significant citizen involvement.”

The TPC consists of 5 Town Board appointed members (one a Town Board member).   Town residency and land ownership are not required for members.  Members are considered local public officials and are to follow Wisconsin laws regarding records and open meetings.

The TPC oversees the preparation of the Comprehensive Plan (including the TOC Future Land Use Map).  Final approval of the Comprehensive Plan is by the Town Board.

The 2010 TPC ordinance specifies when the Town Board must refer proposed land uses to the TPC for a report.  These include decisions affecting public property, streets, and driveways.

Special and Conditional Use permit applications, and rezoning applications filed with the County Planning and Zoning Department are referred to the Town Board for a recommendation.  The Town Board refers these applications to the TPC for a report and advisory recommendation.  Although the TPC ordinance specifies these applications as discretionary referrals to the TPC, the County requirements regarding consistency with the Town Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map make it appropriate for referral to the TPC and this has been the practice in the Town of Clover.

The TPC’s area of responsibility is land use.  The Town Board has multiple responsibilities, one of which is land use, and the TPC is often able to clarify and summarize land use issues for the Town Board.

Although records before 2017 are incomplete, the TPC has prepared 42 advisory opinions for the Town Board during 2017 to the present.


Class A and B special and conditional use applications for land use have included:

  1. Residences in Agricultural-1 zoning, Forestry-1 zoning, and Commercial zoning.
  2. RVs on undeveloped property for more than 4 months
  3. Grading (including rip rap) within 1,000 feet of Lake Superior.
  4. Short-term rentals.
  5. 2nd intermodal container in Agricultural-1 zoning.
  6. More than 3 RVs on developed property.
  7. Irrigation facilities, canals, dams, and reservoirs, etc.


The process for class A and B special and conditional use applications has been as follows:

  1. The landowner files the permit application with the County Planning and Zoning Department.
  2. The Planning and Zoning Department sends the application to the Town Board for a recommendation.
  3. The Town clerk provides the TPC chair with the application.
  4. The TPC meets on the first Tuesday of the month and the Town Board meets on the second Wednesday of the month. The TPC Agenda is posted on the Town’s website.
  5. At a public meeting, the TPC considers the application and makes a finding as to consistency with the Comprehensive Plan.
  6. The TPC develops and advisory opinion on the application, and records this in the meeting minutes for consideration by the Town Board. The TPC Minutes are posted on the Town’s website.
  7. The Town Board submits a recommendation to the County.
  8. The County Planning and Zoning Department acts on class A applications, and the Planning and Zoning Committee acts on class B and conditional Use applications.

The TPC also has general powers to make recommendations regarding the development of the Town and for public improvements.  This authority was exercised in 2020 when a Short-term Rental Ordinance and annual licensing procedure was prepared and submitted to the Town Board.


Elements of a Comprehensive Plan


State law defines a comprehensive plan in as a guide to the physical, social, and economic development of a local governmental unit.  (Section 66.1001, Wisconsin Statutes).



The 2003-2023 Town of Clover Comprehensive Plan is detailed as to all the nine state required elements of a plan.

In the preparation of the 2023-2043 Plan, the Town will be cooperating with Bayfield County (the County will be preparing a comprehensive plan update in 2022-2024), and the Northwest Regional Planning Commission.

The Town of Clover Plan will focus on those elements which most impact a town of fewer than 300 full-time residents and an unknown number seasonal residents, and on tourists who visit for the day or spend multiple days camping, staying at the local motel or resort, or in a short-term rental accommodation.

The Town’s significant coastal resources—the Cranberry River, the Bark River, the Bark Bay Slough, the boat launch, and 12 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, will be the primary focus of the Plan.

The Plan will include a Town of Clover Future Land Use map.

Many components of several elements are much more in the control of the county and state governments than in the hands of the Town, and where possible the plan will reference the Bayfield County plan instead of repeating the information in the Town Plan.


 Comprehensive Plan Required Elements

The law (above) requires the following elements:

  • Issues and Opportunities.  Background of the Town and its objectives, goals, and programs for the next 20 years are stated.   This element contains the demographic data of the Town—population, age distribution, educational levels, income levels, and employment characteristics.
  • Housing. Description of current housing stock, policies, and goals to provide an adequate housing supply that meets existing and forecasted housing demand.
  • Transportation. Information about roads, transit, and provisions for walking and bicycling.  Policies and goals to guide future development of various modes of transportation.
  • Utilities and Community Facilities. Information, policies, and for sanitary sewer service and onsite wastewater treatment, water supply, solid waste disposal and recycling, parks, communication facilities, police, fire, and rescue resources, libraries, schools, healthcare, and childcare facilities.
  • Agricultural, Natural, and Cultural Resources. Policies, goals, maps, and programs for the protection and effective management of groundwater, forests, farms, streams, wetlands, wildlife habitat, parks, open spaces, historical and cultural resources.
  • Economic Development. A description of the economic base and employment opportunities, strengths and weaknesses, and state and county programs of economic development.
  • Intergovernmental Cooperation. A compilation of goals and programs for joint planning and decision making by local units of government.
  • Land Use. A description of current land uses, trends in price, supply, and demand.  A 20 year projection in 5 year increments of future land use.  Maps of current and future land uses, floodplains, wetlands, and environmentally sensitive lands.
  • Implementation. A listing of programs and actions, and mechanisms for measuring, of goals and policies of the comprehensive plan.

The Town of Clover Plan will include an additional element on Coastal Resources.


PROJECT DESCRIPTION (From the Town of Clover Plan Commission Grant Application submitted to the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.)

The current Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map were adopted 18 years ago.   The Plan is well over 100 pages in length and addresses the nine elements of a comprehensive plan in detail.  An added Lake Superior Coastal Resources element of five pages is in the Plan.

The proposal in this application is to partner with Bayfield County on the nine elements of the plan and to refer in the Town of Clover Plan to the County Plan for much of the information on the nine elements.  The Coastal Resources element of the 2023-2043 Town of Clover Plan will be focus of the 2023-2043 Comprehensive Plan:

Cranberry River:  A 16.1 mile long Class 1 trout stream defined by the DNR as having high quality water and at or near capacity sustainable wild trout.  The River drains 27 square miles and forms a lagoon and coastal wetland where it enters Lake Superior.

Bark River:  A 5.6 mile long DNR defined Class 1 trout stream that flows north into the Bark Bay Slough.

Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area:  The Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area designated in 1972 and described by the DNR as a floristically diverse coastal fen and coastal bog wetlands in excellent condition that supports many rare species.  The Town owns the parking area for the Slough.  The lagoon portion of the Slough is extremely popular with kayakers.  A concern is that the Bark Bay Slough has had a significant increase in use by kayakers during the past five years.  In 2020 the DNR identified “recreation as an emerging issue” of State Natural Areas.  In 2017 the Town adopted a transient merchant ordinance requiring a Town license for kayak outfitters who use the Town owned parking lot due in large part to irresponsible activities at the Bark Bay Slough.

Lake Superior Shoreline:  There are 12 miles of shoreline in the Town.  The shoreline since 2016 has experienced increased toe, sliding, and bluff slumping erosion due to high water levels.  In April 2014 the Lake was at its long-term average water level.  For the next 87 months the Lake level was above average.  This was the longest stretch of above average Lake level on record (since 1918).  In October 2021 the Lake returned to near average level, 11 inches below October 2020.  Prior to 2017 shoreline rip rap projects were highly regulated and subject to public comment before DNR approval.   2017 legislation, in response in part to high water levels and related erosion, provided for exemption from a DNR permit under certain conditions.  In practice rip rap projects of under 300 linear feet in the Town are exempt from the permit requirement.  The Town is often unaware of rip rap projects because of the 2017 exemptions under Wisc. Stat. 30.12 (1g)(jm).  A concern is that rip rapped shoreline may affect nearby property owners.

Lake Superior Water Trail:  The trail follows the 12 miles of shoreline where there are three public access points to the Lake, and is described, in part, “At the Cranberry you’ll encounter a long expanse in the Town of Clover of beautiful [public] beach.”   You’ll paddle along the west coast of Bark Point where “. . . there is a combination of beautiful sand/rock beach and moderate bluffs as you proceed up the point, northeasterly from Herbster.”  “A public launch/landing is located about ½ mile south along the east shore of Bark Point.”  “The trip through the Bay will lead to the estuary of the Bark River and Bark Bay Slough . . . this estuary has received international attention for its pristine quality.”  “. . . many kayakers will enjoy just spending a day paddling quietly in the Bark Bay estuary observing wildlife and perhaps picnicking on the sand spit beach.”  Publication of a Wisconsin Water Trail Map was a cooperative effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, the Inland Sea Society, the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, and the DNR.

National Scenic Byway:  In March 2021 the Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway was designated a National Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Administration.  The Byway is one of three nationally designated byways in Wisconsin.  Special note is made in Byway information of the Town of Clover campground, “right next to the sand beach” and the “pristine Bark Bay Slough State Natural Area where you can kayak or canoe amidst the wildlife and see rare species of flora and fauna.”

Town Background Information:  The Town of Clover is seeing increased tourism and a population increase.  The 2010 population of the Town was 223.  The population increased 17% to 261 in 2020.  Bayfield County saw a 7% increase, and the State of Wisconsin a 3.6% for the same time period.  In 2010 the Town had 416 housing units, of which 300 were vacant (seasonal housing). There are now nine licensed by the Town of Clover short-term rentals (airbnb and other platforms),  three of which are new in the past 12 months.  According to the Wisconsin Realtors Association the average home price in Bayfield County has increased 29% year to date (through August) 2021 over 2020.

The Town of Clover Sanitary District serves a limited number of properties in Herbster.  The properties outside of Herbster have a variety of private onsite wastewater systems (PWOTS).   Due to soil conditions, particularly on Bark Point, holding tanks are required.  The primary sanitary pumping company pumped in 111,000 gallons in August 2021 compared to August 2019 pumping of 72,000.  This example is perhaps an indicator of the increase in population, seasonal housing,  and short-term rentals.  A unique concern is the number of septic field systems, installed primarily before 1980.  These systems designed for occasional weekend use,  particularly when present in a short-term rental, may be overused leading to runoff to the Lake and streams.

In April of 2021 a Town of Clover resident sought a Conditional Use Permit for the purpose of burying water tanks on property zoned residential/recreational business.   Artesian water from the property would be stored in these tanks and taken by tanker truck to another location for bottling and sale to consumers.  The Town Board unanimously recommended against approval of the conditional use (the County is the zoning authority for the Town), and application for this use was denied twice at the County level and the denial has been appealed to the Bayfield County Circuit Court.  Notable is the over 1,600 letters received by the County opposing (one letter received in support) this permit application.  This incident is evidence of the widespread interest in protection of coastal natural resources.

Town of Clover

Town Plan Commission

2023-2043 Comprehensive Plan Committee


Matching Funds Log for the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program


For the time period of (check one)  

                                                            _____ July 1 through September 30, 2022

                                                            _____ August 1 through December 31

                                                            _____ January 1 through March 31, 2023

                                                            _____ April 1 through June 30


Name of employee, volunteer     Hours or Cost                               Match Amount or item purchased



























Completed by ______________________  Date ________



Website Resources


Town of Clover

Town ordinances, minutes of meetings, and a section devoted to the 2023-2043 Comprehensive Plan project.


Bayfield County Planning and Zoning Department     

Zoning Ordinance, Town of Clover 2003 Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map, Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan, and plans of other towns in the County.


Bayfield County Land Records Department     

Parcel maps, community maps, recreation maps, zoning maps, and many other maps and resources.


Wisconsin Department of Administration   

Over 1,500 Wisconsin Comprehensive Plans, state statutes, guides to each of the 9 plan elements, checklists, and many other resources and links to resources.


UW Stevens Point Center for Land Use Education

The Center for Land Use Education was established in 2000 as a joint effort of UW Stevens Point and UW Extension.  The site includes many resource documents related to comprehensive planning.


Wisconsin Coastal Management Program

Established in 1978 to preserve and improve access to the natural and historic resources of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coasts.  The site includes links to Partners and Programs,  National and International, Regional, State, Local and Non-Profit organizations.


Northwest Regional Planning Commission

Created in 1959 by 10 counties and 5 tribal nations in northwest Wisconsin, NWRPC is the provider of a variety of community and regional services focusing on economic, community and business development, transportation, land use, coastal and environmental resources.  The site includes many links and resources about planning.  NWRPC will be the contractor for the Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan and the Town of Clover Comprehensive Plan.