Lauderdale Lakes Lake Management District
The Lauderdale Lakes Lake Management District (LLLMD) was created in 1991 under Chapter 33 of the Wisconsin Statutes for the primary purpose of protecting and rehabilitating Lauderdale Lakes. The LLLMD is governed by a board of commissioners who are elected by district electors to a three-year term of office.
The LLLMD has town sanitary district powers under Wisconsin Statute Sections 60.77 and 60.78. Under these Wisconsin Statutes, the LLLMD has the authority to act as necessary to carry out a program of lake protection and rehabilitation.
The District's Annual meeting is held the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Business conducted at the annual meeting includes approving the budget and tax levy for the following year, electing commissioners, and any other business. Notices of regular and special LLLMD meetings are published at the Lauderdale Lakes Country Club and on this web site. Meetings requiring a legal notice are also published in the Elkhorn Independent newspaper. All meetings are open to the public. Approved minutes for each meeting are published in the “Meetings” section of this web site.
District funds are collected through a special line item on annual property tax bills. Funds are used to support aquatic plant management, maintenance of the outflow dam, the water safety patrol, environmental projects, the development of ordinances to protect the lake and property owners, water quality, local intergovernmental cooperation, and other items as allowed by law.
The LLLMD has been awarded a number of Wisconsin DNR Grants to fund environmental initiatives and aquatic plant management. The projects funded by these grants help to ensure water quality and lake property values for both current lake residents and future generations.
The Public Trust Doctrine
Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone
Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state's Public Trust Doctrine. Based on the state constitution, this doctrine has been further defined by case law and statute. It declares that all navigable waters are "common highways and forever free", and held in trust by the Department of Natural Resources.
Public Rights in Waters
Wisconsin citizens have pursued legal and legislative action to clarify or change how this body of law is interpreted and implemented. As a result, “the public interest, once primarily interpreted to protect public rights to transportation on navigable waters, has been broadened to include protected public rights to water quality and quantity, recreational activities, and scenic beauty.”
“All Wisconsin citizens have the right to boat, fish, hunt, ice skate, and swim on navigable waters, as well as enjoy the natural scenic beauty of navigable waters, and enjoy the quality and quantity of water that supports those uses.”
Wisconsin law recognizes that owners of lands bordering lakes and rivers - "riparian" owners - hold rights in the water next to their property. These riparian rights include the use of the shoreline, reasonable use of the water, and a right to access the water. However, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court has ruled that “when conflicts occur between the rights of riparian owners and public rights, the public's rights are primary and the riparian owner's secondary.”
Wisconsin's Public Trust Doctrine requires the state to intervene to protect public rights in the commercial or recreational use of navigable waters. The DNR, as the state agent charged with this responsibility, can do so through permitting requirements for water projects, through court action to stop nuisances in navigable waters, and through statutes authorizing local zoning ordinances that limit development along navigable waterways.
The Court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. "A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.