Village of River Hills
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Chapter 7 Section 13


 7.1301 GENERAL DEFINITIONS For the purpose of this Ordinance, certain words or phrases shall have meanings that either vary somewhat from their customary dictionary meanings or are intended to be interpreted to have a specific meaning.  Words used in the present tense in this Ordinance include the future.  The word “person” includes a firm, association, partnership, trust, company, or corporation as well as an individual.  The word “he” includes the word “she”.  The word “shall” is mandatory, the word “should” is advisory, and the word “may” is permissive.  Any words not defined in this Section shall be presumed to have their customary dictionary definitions, unless they are defined in the “Zoning Ordinance of the Village of River Hills.”


Accessory Structure:  A subordinate structure, the use of which is customarily incidental to the permitted use of the principal structure, and which is located on the same lot or parcel of land as the principal structure.

Accessory Use.  (See “Use, Accessory”)

Adult Family Home. A place where up to 4 unrelated adults reside, each of which has a developmental disability, and in which care and maintenance above the level of room and board, but not including nursing care, are provided.


Antenna. Any structure or device used for the purpose of collecting or transmitting electromagnetic waves, including but not limited to directional antennas, such as panels, microwave dishes and satellite dishes, and omni-directional antennas, such as whip antennas.

Antenna, Earth Station Dish. A dish-shaped antenna designed to receive television broadcasts relayed by microwave signals from earth-orbiting communication satellites.

Antenna, Terrestrial. Any antenna designed to receive television and radio signals relayed from one ground location to another ground location. Such antennas are typically mounted on a tower or support on the rooftop of a structure, or on free-standing towers.

Arterial Street. A public street or highway used or intended to be used primarily for fast or heavy through traffic. Arterial streets and highways in the Village of River Hills are Brown Deer Road, Good Hope Road, Range Line Road, Green Bay Road, Green Tree Road, and Bradley Road from Green Bay Road to Range Line Road.

Building. Any structure having a roof supported by columns or walls used or intended to be used for the shelter or enclosure of persons, animals, equipment, machinery, or materials.

Building Height. Building height is measured from the first floor line, which shall not be located greater than 2 feet above the average finished grade of the front wall of said building.

Bulkhead Line.  A boundary line established along any section of the shore of any navigable waters by a municipal ordinance approved by the State Department of Natural Resources.

Channel.  Those floodlands normally occupied by a stream of water under average annual high-water flow conditions while confined within generally well-established banks.

Commercial Wireless Telecommunication Services. Licensed commercial wireless telecommunication services including cellular, personal communication services (PCS), specialized mobilized radio (SMR), enhanced specialized mobilized radio (ESMR), paging, and similar services that are marketed to the general public.

District, Basic. A part or parts of the Village for which the regulations of this Ordinance governing the use and location of land and buildings are uniform.

Dwelling. A structure or portion thereof which is used exclusively for human habitation.

Dwelling, Single-Family. A detached building designed for or occupied exclusively by one family and surrounded by open space or yards and which is not attached to any other dwelling by any means.

Environmental Control Facility. Any facility, temporary or permanent, which is reasonably expected to abate, reduce, or aid in the prevention, measurement, control or monitoring of noise, air, or water pollutants, solid waste or thermal pollution, radiation or other pollutants, including facilities installed principally to supplement or to replace existing property or equipment not meeting or allegedly not meeting acceptable pollution control standards or which are to be supplemented or replaced by other pollution control facilities.

Family. An individual, or 2 or more persons related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption, living together as a single non-profit housekeeping unit residing in a single-family dwelling as their domicile; or, a number of persons not related, but not exceeding 2 living together as a single non-profit housekeeping unit residing in a single-family dwelling as their domicile.  The definition of family is exclusive of compensated domestic help, servants, or caretakers and is not intended to prevent compensated domestic help, servants, or caretakers from residing on the parcel or lot either in the single-family dwelling or an accessory structure.

Floodplain. Those floodlands, excluding the floodway, subject to inundation by the one-hundred (100) year recurrent interval flood, as delineated on large scale flood hazard maps prepared by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission under the Milwaukee River Watershed study with the use of topographic maps prepared by the Village of River Hills.

Flood Profile. A graph showing the relationship of the flood water surface elevation for a flood event of a specified recurrence interval to the stream bed and other significant natural and man-made features along a stream.

Flood-Proofing. Measures designed to prevent or reduce flood damage for those uses which cannot be removed from, or which of necessity must be erected on floodplains ranging from structural modifications through installation of special equipment or materials to operation and management safeguards, such as the following: under-pinning of floors; permanent sealing of all exterior opening; use of masonry construction; erection of permanent water-tight bulkheads, shutters and doors; treatment of exposed timbers; elevation of flood-vulnerable utilities; use of waterproof cement; adequate fuse protection; anchoring of buoyant tanks; sealing of basement walls;; installation of sump pumps; placement of automatic swing check valves; installation of seal-type windows and doors; installation of wire-reinforced glass; location and elevation of valuable items waterproofing, disconnecting, elevation ore removing of all electrical equipment; the avoidance of the use of flood-vulnerable areas; operation of emergency pump equipment; closing of back-water sewer valves; placement of plugs in floor drain pipes; placement of moveable water-tight bulkheads; counter floorings; erection of sandbag levees; and the shoring of weak walls or other structures.

Flood Stage.  The elevation of the flood water’s surface above an officially established datum plane, which on the large-scale flood hazard maps is Mean Sea Level, 1929 adjustment.

Floodway.  The channel of a river or stream and those portions of the floodplain adjoining the channel which are required to carry and discharge the flood flows of the Milwaukee River associated with the regional (100 year) flood. The floodway is designated as those lands inundated by the 10-year recurrence interval flood provided that development and filling are prohibited in the floodplain.

Foster Home. A licensed facility that provides care and maintenance for no more than 4 children unless the children are siblings.

Grid-intertie Solar energy System.  A solar energy system that is connected to an electric circuit served by an electric utility company. (Ord 557, 03/09/22)

Ground-mount.  A solar energy system mounted on a rack or pole that rests or is attached to the ground.  (Ord. 557, 03/09/22)

Lot.  A parcel of land occupied or to be occupied by one building and its accessory buildings and uses, having sufficient width and depth to include the open spaces required under this ordinance.

Lot Area.   The area of the lot shall be measured to the established center line of the highway, as shown on the official map of the Village of River Hills, and upon which said land abuts or may abut; provided, however, that not more than 122 feet of said highway shall be included in computing the area of a lot, and provided further that no lands lying within the established right-of-way of a non-access state trunk highway shall be included in computing the area of a lot in those instances where said lands were not a part of the original parcel of land before the establishment of said highway.

Lot, Corner. A lot abutting 2 or more streets at their intersection provided that the corner of such intersection shall have an angle of 135 degrees or less, measured on the lot side.

Navigable Water, as defined in Sec. 281.31(2)(d) Stats. Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, all natural inland lakes within Wisconsin, and all rivers, streams, ponds, sloughs, flowages, and other waters within the territorial limits of this state, including the Wisconsin portion of boundary waters, which are navigable under the laws of this state.

Nonconforming Lot. A lot, the area, dimensions, or location of which was lawful prior to the adoption or amendment of this Ordinance, but which fails by reason of such adoption or amendment to conform to the present requirements of the Zoning Ordinance. Vacant nonconforming lots may also be referred to as substandard lots.

Nonconforming Structure. A building or structure lawfully existing at the time of adoption of the Zoning Ordinance or amendment thereto which houses a use which is permitted in the district, but which does not comply with all the applicable area, height, and yard requirements of the district in which it is located.

Nonconforming Use. Any use of land, water, or buildings in combination, lawfully existing at the time of adoption or amendment of the Zoning Ordinance, which does not comply with the use regulations for the district in which it is located.  A use permitted by a special use permit is not a non-conforming use.

Off-grid Solar Energy System.  A Solar energy system in which the circuits energized by the solar energy system are not electrically connected in any way to electric circuits that are served by an electric utility company.  (Ord. 557, 03/09/22)

Ordinary Highwater Mark. A point on the bank or shore of a body of water up to which the presence and action of surface water is so continuous as to leave a distinctive mark such as by erosion, destruction or prevention of terrestrial vegetation, predominance of aquatic vegetation, or other easily recognized characteristics.

Pierhead Line. A line established along any section of the shore of any navigable waters by a municipal ordinance approved by the State Department of Natural Resources.

Reach. A longitudinal segment of a stream generally including those flood lands wherein flood stages are primarily and commonly controlled by the same man-made or natural obstructions to flow.

Roof-mount. A solar energy system mounted on a rack that is fastened to or ballasted on a structured roof.  (Ord. 557, 03/09/22)

Setback. The minimum horizontal distance between a lot line or the centerline of the street and the regulated structure or object.

Setback, Front Yard. A yard extending the full width of the lot between a lot line which abuts a street or streets and the nearest part of the structure, except when Section 7.0503 applies in which case the setback shall be measured from the centerline of the street.

Setback, Rear Yard. A yard extending across the full width of the lot, the depth of which shall be the minimum horizontal distance between the rear lot line and a line parallel thereto through the nearest point of the structure. This yard is opposite the front yard or one of the front yards on a corner lot.

Setback, Side Yard. A yard extending from the front yard to the rear yard between the structure at the finished grade line and the side line of the lot.

Shorelands. Lands lying within the following distances from the ordinary highwater mark of navigable waters: 1,000 feet from a lake, pond or flowage; and 300 feet from a river or stream, or to the landward side of the floodplain, whichever distance is greater. Shorelands shall not include those lands adjacent to farm drainage ditches where:

a.        Such lands are not adjacent to a navigable stream or river;

b.        Those parts of such drainage ditches adjacent to such lands were not navigable streams before ditching or had no previous stream history; and

c.        Such lands are maintained in nonstructural agricultural use.

            Sign. Any outdoor advertising sign, display, device, notice, figure, painting, drawing, message, placard, poster, used to advertise or inform.

Solar Energy System. A system including all of the related components for mounting and using mechanical, electrical, chemical or other methods that is intended to convert solar energy into thermal, mechanical or electrical energy.  (Ord. 557, 03/09/22)

Solar Mounting Devices. Racking, frames, pokes or other devices that allow the mounting of a solar energy system onto a building, roof surface, or the ground.  (Ord. 557, 03/09/22)

Special Exception. The use of property, including the use and location of buildings, the size of lots, and the dimensions of required yards, otherwise not allowable under the terms of this Ordinance, or for which a special permit may be issued by the Village Board or the Board of Appeals under conditions specified in this Ordinance.

Special Use Permit. A permit granted by the Village Board conditionally permitting the use of land and/or buildings, otherwise not allowable under the terms of this Chapter, which the Village Board may permit by reason of special provisions and under certain conditions and safeguards.  The use of the land and/or buildings allowed by a special use permit does not constitute a non-conforming use; however, the specified use permitted may be continued so long as the permit holder is in full compliance with all the terms, conditions, restrictions or limitations imposed by the Village Board upon the use permitted, and has not discontinued such use.

Structural Alterations. Any enhancement, upgrading, change, or modification in the supporting members of a building such as bearing walls, columns, partitions, beams, or girders.

Structure.  Anything framed, constructed, or assembled out of component parts and which is erected or relocated so as to be fastened to, or rest on, a permanent foundation or the ground, or which constitutes a structural alteration or addition to an existing structure, for any occupancy or use whatsoever, including permanent fences, and excluding removable signs showing names and/or street numbers, and mail boxes.

Substantial Improvement.  Any repair, reconstruction or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty (50%) percent of the equalized assessed value of the structure either before the improvement or repair is started, or if the structure has been damaged, and is being restored, before the damage occurred.  This term does not include (1) any improvement of a structure to comply with state or village health, sanitary or safety codes, (2) any alteration of a structure or site documented as deserving preservation by the Wisconsin Historical Society or listed on the National Register of Historical Places, or (3) ordinary maintenance repairs.

Tower. Any ground or roof mounted pole, spire, structure, or combination thereof, including supporting lines, cables, wires, braces and masts, intended primarily for the purpose of mounting an antenna, meteorological device, or similar apparatus above grade.

Treatment Foster Home. A licensed facility that provides to no more than 4 children care, maintenance, and structured, professional treatment by trained individuals, including the treatment foster parents.

Use, Accessory. A use customarily incidental to the principal permitted use of a lot or building and located upon the same lot as the principal use.

Use, Principal. The main use of land or buildings as distinguished from a subordinate or accessory use.

Variance. A departure from the terms of this ordinance as applied to a specific building, structure or parcel of land, which the Board of Appeals may permit contrary to the regulations of this ordinance for the zone in which such building, structure or parcel of land is located, where the Board finds that a literal application of such regulations will affect a limitation on the use of the property which does not generally apply to other properties in the same zone, and for which there is no compensating gain to the public health, safety, or welfare.

Village Board. Village of River Hills Board of Trustees.

Vision Clearance Triangle. A triangular shaped portion of land established at street intersections in which nothing is erected, place, planted, or allowed to grow in such a manner as to limit or obstruct the sight distance of motorists entering or leaving the intersection.

Wetland, as defined in Sec. 23.32(1) Stats. Those areas where water is at, near, or above the land surface long enough to be capable of supporting aquatic or hydrophytic vegetation and which has soils indicative of wet conditions.

Wetland Alteration. Any filling, flooding, draining, dredging, tiling, excavating, temporary water level stabilization measures, or dike and dam construction in a wetland area.

Wireless Communications Facility. Any structure, equipment or property including but not limited to electronic and other appurtenances used or to be used to transmit, receive, distribute, provide or offer wireless telecommunications services.

Yard. An open space on a lot upon which a building is situated, unoccupied and unobstructed from the ground upward, except as otherwise provided in this ordinance.