Protect On Construction Sites

Tundra Swans | Spring Migration, Pool 8, Robert J. Hurt Landscape Photography

Builders and landowners who hire them must understand erosion control fundamentals. In our area this is especially important because steep slopes are popular home sites. Rain and melting snow rush down bluffs, collecting soil and carrying it to streets, streams and other people’s property. La Crosse County’s stormwater permitting process is designed to help builders and landowners prevent excessive runoff and erosion during construction and afterward. Learn the basics here.

Planning a Home In the Country

Which comes first, home design or site choice? That’s up to the owner, but it’s important to know that site and design should fit together.

With “dream home” in mind homeowners often choose a site, then discover the site doesn’t fit the house plan. This puts both builder and homeowner in difficult positions. The builder is asked to satisfy the homeowner and responsibly manage construction and erosion control, which can be an impossible task. The homeowner can end up with higher costs, more frustration, and long-term property maintenance issues.

It’s important to take the slope of the land into account, too. A lovely wooded hillside lot won’t have many trees standing after construction if your home isn’t designed for the slope. If you plan to build on a slope, consider a design with walk-out basement, tuck-under garage or exposed wall.

To get the house you want and the most for your dollar, meet the builder at your building site to discuss the final home design and its location on the lot. If land disturbance is minimized, the part of your budget used for site prep, erosion control and landscaping will also be minimized. Long-term expenses such as driveway maintenance and heating/cooling costs will also be lower with careful placement.

Permits Will Be Needed

If you’re building in La Crosse County outside of an incorporated city or village, the following permits are required. Obtain these from the agency listed at right.

  • Sanitary permit – La Crosse County Environmental Health Department
  • Well permit – La Crosse County Environmental Health Department
  • Erosion control permit – La Crosse County Land Conservation Department
  • Storm water permit – La Crosse County Land Conservation Department
  • Zoning permit – La Crosse County Zoning Department
  • Driveway permits – Town clerk or La Crosse County Zoning Dept/Hwy Dept
  • Building permit – Town Building Inspector

Environmental Health Department
Health and Human Services Bldg – 2nd Floor
300 4th Street North
La Crosse, WI 54601

Land Conservation Department
Rm. 3270

Zoning, Planning & Land Administration
Rm. 3170

More info here: Country Acres

Guidelines For First-Time Home Builders

Keep soil on the building site. It should not move off your property. Understanding the difference between erosion control and sediment control. Why? Erosion control (keeping soil in place) is more cost effective and efficient than sediment control (trapping and removing sediment after erosion occurs).

Understand the boundaries of the property and the road right-of-way. If your property has public road frontage, it will border a right-of-way. Most rural right-of-ways contain drainage ditches. It is important to realize that these right-of-ways are not part of your site and need to be protected from sediment. The approved driveway access point to a roadway is the only area within the right-of-way that may be disturbed. Road ditches are designed to carry storm water runoff, so they can’t be allowed to fill with soil or sediment. The right-of-way is not part of your property and sediment cannot be allowed to reach the road ditches.

Clean soil tracked off-site by contractor vehicles onto public roadways at the end of each work day. This is the law. The County land conservation office may issue a notice of non-compliance to a contractor for this violation. However, the property owner is the ultimate responsible party.

Properly Install Silt Fences

Learn how silt fences stop erosion and how to install them in these four short videos. Click on each link to view the videos.

Print this poster and hang it up! It features best management practices for stormwater management on home construction sites. Construction BMPs Poster

Plan Ahead

Erosion control and stormwater management plans are reviewed monthly by La Crosse County’s Planning Resource Development Approval Committee. These types of projects must be reviewed and approved before projects can begin:

  • Any land disturbance of 5 acres or more
  • Platted subdivisions
  • Condominium plats

Submit plans approximately 35 days in advance. Plan submittal deadline schedule is available on the La Crosse County Web site.

The Cities of La Crosse and Onalaska as well as the Village of Holmen issue stormwater permits for projects within their boundaries. Permits for all other municipalities are obtained from the La Crosse County Department of Land Conservation.