Communities create town plans to manage future development and change. Planning is a proactive effort to identify what the community wants to change and what it wants to protect from change before projects are proposed. The planning process involves residents in the creation of the plan so that it reflects the interests and preferences of the community.
A primary objective of a land use plan is predictability. Property owners want to know what may or may not change with the use of land around them. Property owners and developers with interest in new investment want to know what the community is likely to approve before they spend lots of time and money to draft proposals. By creating a clear plan and using it consistently, the community can avoid arbitrary outcomes and lawsuits.
In Wisconsin, land use and land division decisions are guided by Comprehensive Plans. State law requires consistency between a zoning action and the Comprehensive Plan. The Town has both a legal and an ethical obligation to follow the plan and honor the voice of the people represented in that plan when making decisions on land use and development issues. When county government is part of the approval process, the Town honors these obligations by clearly citing the applicable plan content to the County, thereby enabling County staff and officials to reinforce the will of town residents in their actions and decisions.
Jefferson County states in its comprehensive plan that whenever land is rezoned from the Farmland Preservation program, the rezoning must be consistent with the applicable town and county comprehensive plans. This appeal claims that the county is not following its own plan, as well as not following state procedures for rezoning out of Farmland Preservation.