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Lawmakers revising cabin plumbing bills

By Dan Shaw

Wisconsin lawmakers are tweaking a pair of bills that would make certain types of cabins and other camping units exempt from the state’s uniform dwelling code.

Bud Styer, the owner of Smokey Hollow Campground in central Wisconsin and similar properties, said he wants the law changed so he can avoid a requirement in current law mandating that cabins with sinks also have showers and toilets. Styer also said he wants it to be permissible to collect waste from the camping units using the same systems now used with recreational vehicles.

He said the types of camping units he is talking about — including yurts, tepees and similar structures — are in essence RVs without wheels. But current law, by subjecting the units to the plumbing requirements of the state’s uniform dwelling codes, has all but stopped him and others from building the structures, he said.

The bills meant to change that situation, Assembly Bill 133 and Senate Bill 148, would apply to camping units that are vacant at least 180 days of the year.

Representatives of the plumbing industry said they can support the changes as long as the plumbing codes aren’t so weakened that public safety is put at risk.

Representatives of the bill sponsors said the bills are being revised in response to such concerns. A committee hearing on Senate Bill 148 was postponed to allow the legislation to be changed, said Elizabeth DeBeck, policy adviser to state Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, sponsor of the Assembly bill.

Styer said part of what he wants to do is bring consistency to the enforcement of rules. He said the state Department of Health Services has taken some of its duties related to inspecting campgrounds and delegated them to counties.

As a result, the rules can receive differing interpretations, Styer said, declining to say whether those discrepancies have affected his business.

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