The Relationship of Shoreland Zoning Elements to the Aesthetics of Developed Lakeshores in Wisconsin
Macbeth, Eric J.
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Wisconsin's beautiful lakes attract people for recreational opportunities and as places along which to live. The main reasons why people want to live on lakeshores are for solitude and beauty, but these aesthetic values are threatened by shoreland development. Wisconsin's shoreland management program, the nation's first, has intended, in part, to protect the natural and aesthetic quality of lakeshores by controlling development. But very little research has been done in the program's 20- year history to verify if lakeshore scenery is effectively protected. This thesis examined the law's ability to protect natural beauty by testing the hypothesis that the aesthetics of developed lakeshores, as viewed from the lake, are proportional to three visible shoreland zoning elements: the building setback, lot width, and clearing of the buffer zone. These three physical variables and two other aesthetic variables (attractiveness of the buildings and visual water/air quality) were used as independent variables in the study. Values of the five variables were measured or assessed on each of 90 photographic slides of residential lakeshore development collected throughout the state. The dependent variable, the overall aesthetics of developed lakeshores, was assessed on the same slides by two different rating groups: 1) college students and 2) lakeshore property owners. Results by multiple linear regression analysis showed that the strongest predictor of the aesthetics of developed lakeshores was the amount of buffer zone that was cleared. A high correlation between the development aesthetic variable and the dependent variable indicates that aesthetic judgment is focussed on the quality of the human development. Reliability tests between rating groups showed that very different populations agree about what is aesthetically pleasing on developed lakeshores.