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Should Communities Be Allowed To Scrap Their Land Use Plan?

Why would a state Legislator want communities to scrap them?

A bill proposed in the state Assembly would allow communities to scrap their land use plans if they wanted to do so.

Current law requires that land use plans be consistent with a municipality's comprehensive plan. Ordinances that would be affected would include: official mapping, local subdivision regulation and zoning ordinances. If a municipality creates or alters a current ordinance, the comprehensive plan has to include the required planning elements.

However, if AB 303 were made into law, it would allow communities to discontinue comprehensive planning if they wanted to, even if they already have one on file. 

The bill was introduced by Mary Williams (R-Medford) and Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) and has the support from a number of other assembly members on Oct. 5 and a public hearing was held Oct. 11.

Proponents of the bill said allowing communities to opt out of land use planning is necessary to allow municipalities to respond quicker to development proposals and avoid planning costs.

Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) said it's a bad idea for communities to opt out of smart growth planning because it's a tool that allows municipalities to better attract businesses and families.

"Every municipality in Wisconsin is competing with savvy communities elsewhere that use smart growth planning," he said. "If you look at a list of the Top 10 places to live, work and play, each one of them has a strategic plan in place to become a destination community for businesses and families."

But local residents in Caledonia who were part of the development of the land use plan said the document is necessary to preserve Caledonia's rural character and it encourage citizens to become more invested in their community.

"It's not fair for one business or developer to come in and change everything, they just shouldn't have that right," said Wendy McCalvy, a former Village Board member and proponent of land use planning.

For example, when Walmart announced plans to build a store on the corner of Four Mile Road and Highway 31 earlier this year, residents living near the area pointed to the land use plan and said, it's not consistent with the zoning called for in the land use plan because the area is zoned residential. The land use plan is one of several elements that make up the Village's comprehensive plan. And, in order for Walmart to forward, the land use plan would have had to been changed to become a permitted use.

The Village had started to review its this summer, but they decided to look at a number of areas, not just Highway 31. They then decided to put it on hold until they received a report from Ehlers and Associates, a financial planning advisor.

Kevin Wanggaard, a Village Board member, said he hasn’t read enough about the proposed law to make a decision on the issue.

Kathy Burton, a Village Board member, said she didn’t think opting out of land use planning was a good thing because of all of the work that had already done.

“The argument that I had in changing the land use plan, starting with Highway 31, was because if we don’t just focus on one area, they’ll never do anything. And that pretty much came to fruition because they are doing nothing,” Burton said.

Christie Meendering Kern October 12, 2011 at 08:44 PM
I don't believe we should consider this as a viable issue. Land use management is vital to appropriate community growth and change. Our communities have worked hard to devise suitable land use plans and it's not sensible to scrap these plans for random acts of development. I really feel Wisconsin's motto recently has changed to Backward.
Duane Michalski October 13, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Without question. As things and needs change so should the Land Use Plan change. I feel it can be a useful document, but only if it is done right.
melissa Warner October 13, 2011 at 08:18 PM
CHANGE the Land Use (Zoning) PLan? Of course. Just follow procedures. SCRAP the Land Use Plan and let a board decide each proposal case by case? not a good idea. When we moved here we considered the zoning in place at the time in order to protect the investment we were making. We wanted insurance that a business couldn't open on the property next door, for example. Scrap what we have and anything is possible.
patchreader 123 February 23, 2012 at 07:05 PM
State Assembly Bill (AB 303) largely repeals Land Use Planning requirements, thus opening the door to companies or developers to propose the placement of commercial or industrial developments at conflicting or ill-conceived locations with little input from affected residents. Because AB 303 is due to go to the State Senate for vote, learn about the bill (and the benefits of Land Use Planning that the bill seeks to eliminate) and encourage State Senators to oppose it. www.ccrep.org

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