The purpose of this element is to identify the agricultural, natural and cultural resources the Town of Menasha would like to protect and preserve.


A.   Agricultural Resources


Map 8 shows Soil Suitability for Agricultural Use in the Town of Menasha. There are three classifications – Class 1, which is Prime Farmland; Class 2, which is Prime if Drained; and Not Prime. There are six active farms in the Town of Menasha. They are all located in the area that lies east of Clayton Avenue, south of CTH BB, west of Cold Spring Road and north of the Canadian National railroad tracks that run east-west between USH 41 and Clayton Avenue. In this area, soil suitability can change quickly from Class 1 to Not Prime.


The Town intends to adopt and implement a Land Use Plan that emphasizes agricultural preservation and discourages residential development in areas outside of the Sewer Service Area.


B.   Natural Resources


The natural resource base of the town provides an important determinant of the potential physical and economic uses of the land. The management and preservation of these resources are important for sustaining economic uses of the land and maintaining the quality of life enjoyed by the town residents. Environmental characteristics, including topography, drainage patterns, floodplains, wetlands and soil properties are among the features that determine whether or not an area is suitable for a specific type of development. Development in wetlands or woodland areas can destroy the important environmental benefits these areas provide to the community. The conversion of agricultural lands into other land uses has long-term economic implications as well as environmental effects.


1.     Geographic Setting


The Town of Menasha is relatively flat, with only eighty feet of change in elevation from the highest area to the lowest area. The Town is geographically divided in two by Little Lake Butte des Morts, which is also the Fox River. Elevations along Little Lake Buttes des Morts are around 750 feet and reach 830 feet at the far west side of the Town, and 810 feet on the east side.




2.     Water


There are many natural features related to water in the Town of Menasha. There are numerous restrictions associated with the development of property near or adjacent to water features, which cannot be covered in detail in this plan. It is highly recommended that the various agencies mentioned in this section be contacted prior to undertaking this type of development, and that the applicability of the various regulations be determined through field verification.


a.  Surface Water


The Town of Menasha has a significant amount of surface water. There is a large amount of water frontage in and along Little Lake Buttes Des Morts (see Map 9). Most of the frontage is privately owned.


Winnebago County’s Shoreland District Zoning Ordinance regulates shoreland use and development within one thousand (1,000) feet from the ordinary high water mark of a lake, pond or flowage. In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates the placement of structures and other alterations below the ordinary high water mark of navigable streams and lakes.


b.  Stream Corridors


The Town of Menasha has several stream corridors that serve as natural channels for storm water runoff (see Map 9).


Winnebago County has adopted a Shoreland District Zoning Ordinance, which regulates shoreland use and development within three hundred (300) feet from the ordinary high water mark of a river or stream or to the landward side of the flood plain, whichever distance is greater. The purpose of the Ordinance is to help protect scenic beauty, shore cover and to prevent erosion, sedimentation and pollution of the County’s water resources.


c.      Floodplains


The largest area designated as a floodplain in the Town is in the far southeast corner along and extending inland from Lake Winnebago (see Map 9). The two other significant areas are Mud Creek in the vicinity of the USH 41 and CTH BB intersection and the stream corridor beginning at Cold Spring Road and running east to Little Lake Buttes des Morts.


Winnebago County has adopted a Floodplain Zoning Ordinance that requires certain land use controls in designated flood hazard areas. This ordinance establishes floodplain districts, which are formed by using the official floodplain zoning maps of Winnebago County and subsequent revisions. Land areas that are classified in the floodplain and floodway zones have considerable restrictions placed on them for development. Within the adopted zone, residents of the Town are eligible to participate in the federal Flood Insurance Administration’s insurance program.


At this time, there is a difference between floodplain boundaries as identified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and mapped by Winnebago County with the boundaries shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Lending institutions currently require the use of FEMA maps for insurance purposes.


d.  Wetlands


Wetlands are natural areas in which the groundwater table lies at, near or above the surface of the ground, and which support certain types of vegetation (see Map 10). Protection of wetlands in the Town is important since they serve several vital environmental functions including flood control, water quality improvement, groundwater recharge and providing habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife.


The Winnebago County Wetland Ordinance describes permitted uses of wetlands, some of which include development of public and private parks and the cultivation of agricultural crops. The County does not have authority over parcels of less than two (2) acres in size.


The State of Wisconsin defines wetlands as 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 have soils indicative of wet conditions. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has authority over all wetlands. The Corps of Engineers has authority over the placement of fill materials in virtually all wetlands. The U.S. Department of Agriculture incorporates wetland preservation criteria into its crop price support program. In general, the most restrictive regulations apply in a situation where development is being proposed.


The Town of Menasha has several wetland areas as mapped by the DNR on its Wisconsin Wetland Inventory Maps. The largest area is the Stroebe Island area. A second large concentration of wetlands is in the far southeast portion of the Town along Lake Winnebago. The Heckrodt Nature Preserve is located in this area.


e.  Groundwater


While there is some correlation between the location of surface water and high ground water levels, there are numerous areas of high ground water in the Town of Menasha where there are no apparent surface indications of it, such as a stream corridor or a wetland (see Map 11). Generally, areas of high ground water are to be avoided for residential development because of environmental and cost reasons.


f.    Wellheads


The Town of Menasha is located in an Arsenic Advisory Area, which is a five mile boundary surrounding several areas of St. Peter Sandstone. This area was identified by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the mid 1990’s. Wells drilled in this area have the potential to produce water contaminated with arsenic.


The Town of Menasha’s Utility District operates wells on both the east and west sides of the Town. Approximately 50% of the Town’s water on the east side comes from Deep Well No. 5, located at 1665 University Drive. The remaining 50% is purchased from the City of Menasha Surface Water Treatment Plant. Well No. 5 draws water from sandstone type formations. The water is then softened and chlorine is added for disinfecting purposes. At this point, water purchased from the City of Menasha is mixed with the well water in a one-million gallon reservoir. The City of Menasha water plant draws and treats water from Lake Winnebago.


There are three deep wells on the west side, two at 2340 American Drive and one at 919 East Shady Lane. The wells have an average depth of 475 feet, and draw water from sandstone type formations called Tunnel City and Elk Mound. The water is then softened at the treatment plants, chlorine is added for disinfecting purposes, along with sodium silicate for a corrosion control agent, and to help keep iron from settling out in low flow areas.


The raw water from Well No. 5 was tested in October 2000 for arsenic, a naturally occurring contaminant. The sample revealed a level of 1.8 parts per billion (ppb), well below the 50 ppb deemed safe for drinking. The west side wells were also tested with no levels of arsenic detected.


The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was amended in 1986 to include a nationwide program to protect groundwater used for public water supplies. The amendment established state wellhead protection (WHP) programs. The goal is for communities to prevent the contamination of their wells by delineating and protecting the land area which contributes water to their wells.


Under the requirements of section NR 811.16(5), Wisconsin Administrative Code, all new municipal wells installed after May 1, 1992, must have a Department of Natural Resources approved wellhead protection plan (WHP) prior to placing the well into service. For communities like the Town of Menasha that had wells in service on May 1, 1992, the development of a WHP plan is encouraged, but not required.


More information on wellhead protection is available at:




In 1992, the Town of Menasha began to require that property owners in the Town take out a permit for an existing private well. The permits need to be renewed every five years and a test for bacteria is required. Currently there are approximately 375 permits, down from about 1,200 in 1993.


If sewer and water is available to a property owner, a connection to the water and sewer provided by the Utility District is required. This does not prohibit a property owner from using well water. As part of the permitting process, an inspection of the well is made to ensure there are no cross-connections with the water service provided by the Utility District. Well water is to be used for outside use only unless a connection is made to the sanitary sewer, in which case a meter is installed on the well.


When a well is abandoned, the property owner is responsible for complying with the regulations established by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The Utility District monitors the process.


g.  Storm Water Runoff, Erosion & Nonpoint Source Pollution


As growth continues to occur in the Town of Menasha with the construction of buildings, streets and parking areas, the management of the storm water that flows from these impervious surfaces takes on additional importance. The ability of the land to absorb the runoff diminishes and the need to control and direct the runoff becomes essential. During the conversion of the land from a natural state to a developed state, soil erosion becomes a concern.


Several actions can be taken to mitigate the negative effects. One is to require remedial actions by contractors to control erosion during construction. A second action is to design the management of storm water runoff into a commercial or residential project. Last, as was discussed in the Utilities and Community Facilities Element, is the formation of a Storm Water Utility.


3.     Soils and Geology


a.     Soils


Soils provide the physical base for urban development. Knowledge of the limitations and potentials of the soil types is important in considering the construction of buildings, the installation of utilities, or other uses of the land. Some soils exhibit characteristics such as slumping, compaction, and erosion, which place limits on development. Severe soil limitations do not necessarily indicate areas that cannot be developed, but rather indicate that more extensive construction measures may be necessary to prevent environmental and/or property damage. Such construction techniques generally increase the cost of utility installation and land development.


According to the Soil Survey of Winnebago County, prepared by the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture’s, the predominant soil associations in the Town of Menasha are Hortonville, Manawa, Winnconne, Neenah and Whalan (see Map 12). All provide moderate to severe limitations for building site development.


b.     Bedrock


Areas of high bedrock are shown in Map 13. Depending on the type of bedrock, development can be severely limited. The bedrock in the Town is Platteville-Galena limestone, which can be blasted and removed for sub-grade foundations. The largest concentration of this bedrock is in the south-central section of the west side of the Town. Residential and industrial development has occurred in this area, and residential development continues to occur.


4.     Woodlands


Map 10 shows the location of the woodland areas in the Town of Menasha. There is a strong correlation between woodlands and wetlands in the Town. These areas provide habitat for wildlife and serve as an aesthetic amenity. Development regulations should support the preservation of this resource.


5.     Environmentally Sensitive Areas


The East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC) identifies environmentally sensitive areas as part of its regional land use and water quality planning process. Environmentally sensitive areas are those where development should be limited, and are comprised of the following:


¨        Lakes and streams shown on the United States Geographic Survey maps

¨        Wetlands shown on the Wisconsin Wetland Inventory Maps (Department of Natural Resources)

¨        Floodways as delineated on the official Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Flood Boundary and Floodway Maps


In addition to the designations of environmentally sensitive, other areas with natural characteristics that could impact environmental quality or development potential have been identified by ECWRPC. These are said to have "limiting environmental conditions," and include areas with seasonal high groundwater (within one foot of the surface), floodplain areas, lands with shallow bedrock (within five feet of the surface) and areas with steep slopes (12 percent or greater).


Unlike the environmentally sensitive areas, development is not excluded from land with "limiting environmental conditions." The primary purpose for identifying these areas is to alert communities and potential developers of environmental conditions, which should be considered prior to the development of such areas.


Map 14 shows that in the Grand Chute–Menasha West Sewer Service Area the majority of the areas designated as environmentally sensitive are along the shores of Little Lake Butte des Morts and its tributaries. A significant area is the Stroebe Island wetland complex, which is also the outlet for Mud Creek. This creek is another significant environmental area. It drains a majority of the land within the sewer service area. The map also shows several areas on the west side of Little Lake Buttes des Morts having bedrock within five feet of the surface, and areas along the shore that are floodplains. There are pockets of land on the west side of Little Lake Buttes des Morts and a small portion of the Town that borders Lake Winnebago that has groundwater within one foot of the surface.


Map 14 also shows that in the Neenah-Menasha Sewer Service Area the majority of the areas designated as environmentally sensitive are along the shores of Lake Winnebago in the far southeast corner of the Town.




Most of the areas designated as environmentally limiting have already been developed with the exception of some areas of bedrock within five feet of the surface in the far west portion of the Town.  Environmentally sensitive areas put few limiting factors on future development in the west side.


6.     Metallic and Non-Metallic Mineral Resources


The Town of Menasha does not have any metallic mining sites. The Town does have six (6) active non-metallic mining sites (see Map 13 and Table 36). They are regulated by Winnebago County through the extraction provisions (17.19) of the County Zoning Code and by the Town of Menasha through its Chapter 27 Non-Metallic Mining Ordinance that includes provisions for the reclamation of the mine.




Town of Menasha



Acres Active


Irish Road



Cold Spring Road & CTH BB



Between CTH BB & Cold Spring Road



Corner of CTH CB and East Shady Lane


Black Creek Limestone



Northeast Asphalt

Cold Spring Road


Source: Town of Menasha


With the exception of the Reuss operation, these mines received an automatic nonmetallic mining permit in 2001 since they submitted the application and paid the permit fee. These nonmetallic mining sites then have until August 1, 2002, to submit a reclamation plan for review and approval. The plan must comply with the guidelines of the Town of Menasha’s Nonmetallic Mining Ordinance, which has been approved by the Department of Natural Resources. Town staff has been in contact with all of these mines and expects reclamation plans from them.


The Badger Highways Co. Inc. operation off of 9th Street and Appleton Road is exempt from the nonmetallic requirements. That site is simply holding materials from other non-town sites to process and then to be sold off. There is no extracting taking place at this location so it does not need to meet the requirements of the Town’s Nonmetallic Mining Ordinance.


Historically, there have been issues with the operation of batch plants and materials landing on adjacent properties during blasting. While these are still issues to some extent, more intensive monitoring and a higher level of recognition by the mine operator on the impact of the mining operations has reduced the conflict with adjoining land owners.


7.     Wildlife Habitat


Waiting for information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


8.     Threatened and Endangered Species


Waiting for information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


9.     Air Quality


The following information is from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:


“A few common air pollutants are found all over the United States. These pollutants can injure health, harm the environment and cause property damage. EPA calls these pollutants criteria air pollutants because the agency has regulated them by first developing health-based criteria (science-based guidelines) as the basis for setting permissible levels. One set of limits (primary standard) protects health; another set of limits (secondary standard) is intended to prevent environmental and property damage. A geographic area that meets or does better than the primary standard is called an attainment area; areas that don't meet the primary standard are called nonattainment areas.”


Both Outagamie and Winnebago County are attainment areas. Air quality monitoring stations nearest to the Town of Menasha are located in Appleton and Oshkosh. According to the DNR, there are no air quality issues in the Town of Menasha.


More information on air quality is available at:




and at:







C.   Cultural Resources


1.     Historical Resources


The following information was provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society.


a.     State and National Register of Historic Places


The Wisconsin Historical Society’s Division of Historic Preservation (DHP) is the clearinghouse for information relating to the state’s cultural resources: its historic buildings and archaeological sites. A primary responsibility of the DHP to administer the State and National Register of Historic Places programs. The National Register is the official national list of historic properties in the United States that are worthy of preservation. The National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior maintains the program. The State Register is Wisconsin's official listing of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin's heritage, and is maintained by the DHP. Both listings include sites, buildings, structures, objects and districts that are significant in national, state or local history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. (For ease of discussion, “National Register” is used generally to refer to both programs. In Wisconsin, if a property is listed on one than it is typically listed on the other.)


¨        As of March 1, 2002, there are no properties in the Town of Menasha listed on the National Register. This includes both above ground resources (e.g. buildings) as well as archaeological sites.


NOTE: The National Register is not a static inventory.  Properties are constantly being added and, less frequently, removed. It is therefore important to access the most up-to-date version list of the National Register properties. This can be found at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/histbuild/register/index.html, or by contacting the DHP at (608) 264-6500.


b.     Architecture & History Inventory


In order to determine those sites that are eligible for inclusion on the National Register, the DHP frequently funds historical, architectural, and archaeological surveys of municipalities and counties within the state. A search of the DHP’s on-line Architecture & History Inventory (AHI) reveals the following about the Town of Menasha:


¨        Twenty-two properties in the Town are included in AHI. Inclusion in this inventory conveys no special status, rights, or benefits to owners of these properties. It simply means that some type of information on these properties exists in the DHP’s collections. AHI is primarily used as a research and planning tool.


NOTE: Like the National Register, AHI is not a static inventory. Properties are constantly being added and, less frequently, removed. It is therefore important to use the most up-to-date list of properties within a given area. This information can be found at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/ahi/index.html. Otherwise, contact the DHP at (608) 264-6500.


D.  Community Design


Community design can be expressed in many ways. The visual appearance of a community may reflect the cultural heritage of the area or the dominating presence of a river, lake or other physical feature. In either case, a visual experience is created for residents and visitors alike. Community design can play an important role in creating a sense of pride for residents and attracting non-residents to the area for tourism, shopping and other economic development opportunities. In the Town of Menasha, Little Lake Buttes des Morts dominates and, in fact, divides the Town into two. There is no doubt a visual experience is created as one crosses the Roland Kampo Bridge.


There are two basic categories of community design standards – built environment and natural environment. Examples of the former would be guidelines developed on the appearance and size of buildings, signs and other man-made structures. The latter would include the protection of riverfronts, viewsheds created by changes in elevation or stream or river beds, and other natural features that appeal to the aesthetic nature of people.


Currently, there are two examples of the impact of community design on the Town of Menasha. The first is the Gateway Development on the west side that will help to create a sense of community identity through the formation of a “downtown” or a “Main Street.” The second is the proposal to change the name of the Town to Bridgeview, which acknowledges the natural resource that physically divides the Town and the man-made structure that links the two sides of the Town.


The challenge in developing and implementing community design standards and guidelines is that they are subjective, meaning not everyone will agree with the design that results from the standards and guidelines being followed. One person’s view of the physical appearance of a building or the aesthetic value of a wetland area may differ dramatically with another person’s view. One objective should be to find the proper balance between maintaining the natural beauty of an area and developing it for urban use as the community continues to grow. This is especially important as new areas are opened up with transportation improvements like CTH CB and USH 10.


Issues that need to be addressed through goals, objectives and policies include the protection of environmental corridors including waterfronts, woodlands and wetlands and the review of design, construction, landscaping and lighting of transportation improvements, buildings, parking areas and storage areas.


E.   Vision


It is the year 2022. The Town of Menasha has successfully conserved the ideal and desired local natural resources. Describe the Town of Menasha in terms of those natural resources.


¨        What do you want conserved in terms of natural resources?

¨        Are there special areas, wetlands, bird watching areas, hiking trails that the community wants to preserve?

¨        What do you want created in terms of natural resources?

¨        What does your community want to change in terms of how natural resources are used?



F.    Goals, Objectives and Policies


1.     Goals


a.      To preserve natural features and amenities and conserve natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.




2.     Objectives


a.      Permanently protect environmental corridors from development through the use of the Town's/Winnebago County Zoning Ordinance, Official Map and the Town’s Land Subdivision Ordinance.


b.     Permanently protect floodlands, natural drainageways and wetlands within the Town to avoid storm-water management problems and other environmental problems.


c.      Develop strategies for eliminating contaminated sites within the Town of Menasha.


d.     Encourage the use of innovative zoning techniques such as planned unit developments and cluster zoning to preserve open space and foster high quality development.


e.      Improve or maintain air quality in the Fox Cities region.


f.       Preserve land suitable for the production of food and fiber to meet present and future needs.


g.     Employ a comprehensive management approach for solid and organic wastes.


h.     Foster sustainable development patterns through the use of innovate land use, transportation and utility planning tools.



3.     Policies


a.      The Town intends to protect from development its natural resource features through the use of the Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision Ordinance and Official Map.


b.     The Town will prepare, adopt, and implement natural resource protection zoning and subdivision standards.


c.      The Town will require new development projects to include Town-engineer approved storm water management facilities.


d.     The Town will require all site plans, preliminary plats, and certified survey maps to accurately depict all natural resource features that are found on the site.


e.      The Town strongly encourages the preservation of all mature woodlands one acre or greater in size through the use of cluster development zoning techniques.


G.  Agricultural, Natural and Cultural Resources Plan