CLARK CO. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN Q & A
Friday, August 26th, 2011 -- 12:36 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director
The following are comprehensive planning questions and answers submitted by board members to Planning and Zoning Administrator Steve Kunze.
Questions and Answers
August 25, 2011
Clark County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Q. Can towns who have not agreed by resolution to be included in a County plan be included in a County plan?
A. Yes, because the county identifies issues and administers ordinances that apply county-wide. For example, proposed highway construction on county roads, or revision of the county shoreland zoning ordinance would apply to all towns.
Q. Does the County have to enact a comprehensive plan in order to revise its existing zoning?
A. Yes, if referring to general zoning or shoreland zoning. §66.1001(3)(j), Stats, requires that a county zoning or shoreland zoning ordinance adopted or amended after January 1, 2010 be consistent with that county’s comprehensive plan. If an extension to complete comprehensive planning is granted the deadline is provided by the DOA. (§66.1001(3m)(a)2. and (b)2.)
Q. Consider the following objectives, goals, policies, and statements taken directly from the comprehensive plan.
- In the proposed comprehensive plan there are numerous statements that indicate the goal or objective of the plan is to eliminate building outside of city limits. For instance the objectives on p. 11 are as follows:
1. Support opportunities for multi-family, group housing, and other high density residential development with established urban services.
2. Encourage development in areas currently served by existing roads, public utilities, parks or other services.
3. Discourage the potential use of prime agricultural land or natural features as residential development areas.
This is reiterated again on p. 12 as follows:
Development of new housing shall be consistent with the goals, objectives, and densities established in the local governmental units comprehensive plan.
Again on p. 86 of the plan under the heading “8.4 Land Use Goals and Objectives” we read in objective number 5 and following:
5. Promote future residential development into areas currently served by pedestrian linkages, parks, schools, and other services.
Goal: Allow for urban and rural growth in an orderly manner that does not unnecessarily consume farmland or create conflicts with farm operations.
1. Encourage rural growth in suitable non-farm areas and encourage efficient planning of developments to keep service costs to a minimum.
The question then is: How can we allow any development in the rural area and not be inconsistent with our comprehensive plan? If we allow new housing (by issuing land use permits, septic permits, or subdivision approval etc.) in the rural area that is not “served by parks”, “pedestrian walk ways”, and is not a “high-density housing” situation are we not inconsistent with the plan language?
A. There is no stated goal to eliminate building outside city limits.
There is not a consistency requirement for housing issues; even at that, words like support, encourage, promote are not mandates.
Read all the objectives in 8.4.
Q. With these things considered, would our current subdivision ordinance stand up to the scrutiny of being consistent with the comprehensive plan or would it have to be grossly modified to fit these objectives and goals if we ever attempt to amend it?
A. The current Clark County subdivision ordinance is consistent with the proposed plan. A subdivision ordinance cannot include zoning provisions. A county may plan for the future location of roads (§236.46(1)(a) stats.).
Q. Under 6.7 Economic Development Goals and Objectives under Objectives we read the following:
#6. Direct and support business development which requires public facilities (i.e. water and sanitary sewer) into urbanized Clark County cities and villages.
Why would we choose to limit economic development in any manner? If an Amish or Mennonite country store or small industry happens to require sewer and water wouldn’t we have to “direct…(this)…development” “into urbanized Clark County cities and villages” in order to be consistent with our comprehensive plan?
A. No. Understand the meaning of public facility. This is a municipal treatment plant or public water source. Many industries have complex wastewater streams that are difficult to treat using conventional soil-based treatment systems. Many industries require large quantities of water – which is in short supply in many areas of the county. An Amish or Mennonite store or small business would only need to meet existing POWTS requirements and would install a private well.
Q. On page 32 of the plan, under the heading: Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (POWTS) Facilities
- We find the line “The county will continue to educate, administer POWTS regulations, and pursue funding for the replacement of failing POWTS.”
- If we in the future had a desire to stop pursuing the funding for these programs would we not be inconsistent with our comprehensive plan? Why would we tie our hands on funding or not funding programs with a “the county WILL” statement on any matter?
A. Consistency requirement does not apply here. The county currently participates in the Wisconsin Fund Program which provides reimbursement to eligible property owners that replace a failing POWTS. The county also provides no-interest loans to eligible property owners that can be used to upgrade a POWTS. The county has received over 1.1 million dollars in reimbursements for our citizens. I would expect the department will always pursue financial assistance for the POWTS program. That does not mean allocate, earmark, or budget local tax dollars for installing POWTS.
Q. As 64.4% of the land mass of Clark county on the preferred land-use map is designated as unplanned private resource land, these are the townships that have no desire to be part of comprehensive planning. Now, another 17.3% is public recreation and forestry land that are already zoned, regulated and owned by the county. Thus the total of all lands that don’t need or want a county wide plan is 81.7%. For the 18.3% of the county that are townships or cities and village that have implemented a plan, why would we saddle the remaining land owners with regulation they don’t’ need or are not in favor of?
A. An adopted plan is not a regulation (§66.1001(2m), stats.).
A county-wide plan is required for revision of three ordinances. The Shoreland zoning, Forestry and Recreation zoning, and Subdivision ordinance apply to 98.7% of the land in the county.
Q. In the Clark County Planning Process Public Question, Concerns and Issues Expressed to Date (10-30-02) the Clark County Planning and Zoning Department answered numerous questions that residents of Clark County were asking. In the first question ‘Fear of County overriding town planning efforts” answer number 1 of 2 starts off stating that “Although Clark County does have statutory authority to amend the county comprehensive plan, it is not the county’s intention or desire to “override” local planning efforts. As part of answer number 2 given to the same question you stated “Overriding any town comprehensive plan through a county amendment would be the equivalent of “political suicide.”’
This answer to the question appears to indicate that if a future county board had the gall or initiative to override township plans, they would have the statutory authority to do so and township plans could be changed against their will. Is this true or false?
A. False. A county plan is controlled only by the Clark County Board of Supervisors. A town plan is controlled only by the town board. Neither has the authority to alter or revise another governmental unit’s plan.
Q. As far back as 1976 in the United Nations Vancouver Action Plan we see Zoning and Land-use planning being described as the means to public control of all land and the elimination of private ownership. As we read in the action plan itself under Recommendation D.
-“Land is one of the most valuable natural resources and it must be used rationally. Public ownership or effective control of land in the public interest is the single most important means or improving the capacity of human settlements to absorb changes and movements in population, modifying their internal structure and achieving a more equitable distribution of the benefits or development whilst assuring that environmental impacts are considered. “
And then again under Recommendation D.2 Control of Land Use Changes
A. Agricultural land, particularly on the periphery of urban areas, is an important national resource without public control land is a prey to speculation and urban encroachment.
B. Change in the use of land, especially from agricultural to urban, should be subject to public control and regulation. Such control may be exercised through:
i. Zoning and land-use planning as a basic instrument of land policy in general and or control of land-use changes in particular;
The stated goal of land use planning is written in this same document in the Preamble to this land section as the following:
Land, because of its unique nature and the crucial role it plays in human settlements, cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. Social justice, urban renewal and development, the provision of decent dwellings-and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interests of society as a whole. (Emphasis added)
Why would we choose to enter into any regulation or plan that has a stated goal of eliminating private land ownership, and redistributing of farmers wealth?
A. There is no mention or even implication in this plan that a goal is the elimination of private land ownership. Redistribution of farmer’s wealth? This document has never been adopted by any state or the federal government. It has no legal standing in the United States.
Q. The attorney at the last board meeting educated us on parliamentary procedure and mentioned that is was able to stop certain issues from coming up time and time again when they have already been decided. How do we eliminate the possibility that comprehensive planning will be thrust upon the board again in the future?
A. Since a plan is required by State Statute if general zoning, shoreland zoning, or a subdivision ordinance is amended or enacted, Clark County will need to adopt a comprehensive plan.
Q. Can farmers receive a farmland preservation tax credit if the County does not have a comprehensive plan?
A. Yes. However to attain eligibility for the maximum credit, the county needs to revise the county zoning ordinance to allow towns to drop out of county zoning. That zoning change must be consistent with a county comp plan.
Q. Is comprehensive planning under WI Stats 66.1001 a mandate for counties?
A. Yes, if the county amends or adopts a shoreland zoning, subdivision, or general zoning ordinance after January 1, 2010 (§661001(3), stats.). See delay provisions in §66.1001(3m).
Q. What is the penalty for counties who do not enact a comprehensive plan?
A. There is not a monetary penalty identified in the statute; the county would be ripe for lawsuit if certain amended or adopted ordinances are not consistent with a comp plan.
Q. What does this mean "by itself"? 66.1001 (2m) Effect of enactment of a comprehensive plan. The enactment of a comprehensive plan by ordinance does not make the comprehensive plan by itself a regulation.
A. The adopted plan is not a law or regulation, therefore, regulatory decisions (permit issuance, enforcement, violations) cannot be based on a comprehensive plan.
Q. If not "by itself", then what makes it a regulation?
A. Nothing can make a plan a regulation (see statutory reference above). Provisions of the plan that are implemented into a shoreland, subdivision, or general zoning ordinance could become part of that regulation.
Q. When a comprehensive plan is "enacted by ordinance" is it then an ordinance?
If it is not an ordinance, then what is it?
A. No. It is adoption by ordinance, not as an ordinance. Adoption by ordinance describes the procedure to adopt. The procedure needs to include a public hearing and three readings by the county board.
It is defined in statute 66.1001(1)(a): “comprehensive plan means a guide to the physical, social, and economic development of a local governmental unit…”
Q. If a county enacts a comprehensive plan by ordinance, and then fails to comply with the goals and policies, what could be the consequences? Could the county be vulnerable to lawsuits?
A. If there was a failure to maintain consistency with the plan when adopting or amending the zoning, shoreland, or subdivision ordinance it is concievable that non-consistency could lead to lawsuits.
Q. We understand the "consistency" requirement in the planning statute(after January 1, 2010), but where is it written that if a county chooses to not enact a comprehensive plan, they will not be able to enforce their land use ordinances such as Wetlands-Shoreland and Subdivision Ordinance?
A. Failure to adopt a comp plan does not negate the ability to administer existing ordinances. Again, the potential for lawsuits exists.
Q. How many counties have adopted a comprehensive plan?
A. As of July 1, 2011, 62 of 72 counties have adopted a plan.
Q. How many lawsuits are pending relative to comp planning?
A. Do not know. A decision was handed down in June in regard to consistency.
Q. Advantages and disadvantages of comp planning?
A. Advantages: another level of participation to develop information for future decision-making.
Disadvantages: potential for court
actions w/o adopted comp plan.
Q. What is the state going to repeal?
A. There have been two significant revisions to the comp planning law. Am not aware of any pending legislation to repeal planning legislation.
Q. What does the United Nations have to do with the comprehensive plan?
A. Absolutely nothing. The Clark County Planning and Zoning Committee was not contacted by nor did it contact the United Nations in regard to the plan. No reference was made in the plan to any policy papers issued by the UN.
Q. How does a change in the county plan impact a town plan?
A. It does not impact the town plan. Nor does a change in a town plan affect a county plan. Example: minimum lot size. County could have a recommendation for a 1 acre minimum lot size, a town a 1 acre minimum. If the town changes it to a 2 acre minimum, the county minimum is not affected.
Q. How many governmental units in Clark county have comprehensive plans?
Q. What is the status of the adjoining counties with their plans?
A. Taylor, Marathon, Wood, Jackson, Eau Claire, and Chippewa counties have all adopted a comprehensive plan under §66.1001, stats.
Q. What is the status of county, town, and city/village plans state-wide?
A. 62/73 county, 1382/1851 city/town/village
Q. What does the plan not do?
A. The plan by itself is not a regulation, it is a guide. A statement of policy, not a self-implementing document, but is implemented through decisions made by the local community. If you decide to follow the policy guidance, that is exclusively a local decision.
Any additional questions?
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