Support Local Residents Having a Say in Zoning Decisions!
Jefferson County is experiencing increasing development pressure as open land becomes scarcer in Dane and Waukesha Counties. It’s important to ensure that local residents’ voices are also heard as the county makes land-use decisions. Comprehensive plans are a key way to include citizens’ voices in long-range land-use plans, ensuring that we know ahead of time what kinds of development can happen near our own property and also helping to prevent incompatible uses from being placed next to each other.
The Town of Concord is on the front lines of development pressure in Jefferson County because we have an undeveloped I-94 interchange, but these pressures will also affect other towns.
In Concord, the county recently approved a rezoning that conflicted with the town plan. The county initially justified this in several ways, at times falsely claiming that this rezoning complied with our town plan and at other times claiming that the town board’s vote overrode the town plan.
Citizens have appealed that rezoning decision because of its impact on local residents and also because of its wider implications for our comprehensive plan’s value. In response, Jefferson County has now admitted that it must follow town plans when rezoning out of farmland preservation, and that the recent rezoning in Concord did not follow the 2009 town plan. We are glad for this change back to their former policy. We do need to continue to keep an eye on the county given the ongoing pressures from developers.
However, the county is still defending the specific rezoning, citing the fact that our plan was out-of-date. We have some strong counterarguments against this. According to the state's Library of Plans, more than 60% plans in Wisconsin are out-of-date, and declaring that a plan is simply null and void when out-of-date would create tremendous gaps in the applicability of comprehensive planning law, thereby taking away citizens’ voice in planning in a large number of communities. Also, the county did not follow the proper procedure in this rezoning.
We ask for your help:
Please support the legal appeal of the rezoning: it is important that the county follows proper procedure when rezoning land, and town plans should be honored even when out-of-date. Town plans express the will of the people and provide criteria to ensure consistency across zoning decisions (fairness to different applicants).
Please encourage your county supervisor to support farmland preservation, and vote for candidates who support comprehensive planning.