National and Wisconsin League Land-Use Positions
At the national level the League of Women Voters has stated its recognition that “land is a finite resource, not just a commodity and believes that land ownership, whether public or private, implies responsibilities of ownership.” Further, “Each level of government must bear appropriate responsibility for planning and managing land resources.” And, “...citizen participation must be built into the planning and management of land resources at every step.” In addition, the Wisconsin League has many land-use positions that underlie and reinforce the validity of those held by the Dane County League.
Dane County League Positions on Land Use
In 2004 positions taken from 1972 onward were placed in a new structure. (A history of the positions is available in the LWV-Dane County office.)
- Land Use Planning in Dane County
The League supports policies and practices that:
The League of Women Voters supports efforts to maintain the environmental quality of both the urban and the rural parts of the county, specifically through:
- Protecting Natural Resources
- Conserve in permanent open space significant natural resources: wetlands, forests, wildlife, farmlands, both the quality and quantity of ground water, and will reduce flooding problems.
- Protect natural resources and linkages outside the open space corridors such as scientific areas, glacial features, and other isolated environmentally sensitive areas
- Acquire and preserve wetlands and the adjacent uplands and shoreline along lakes, streams, creeks, their headwaters and springs, as well as woodland areas and areas of significant topography
- Assist in implementing the Dane County Water Quality Plan
- Include any additional green space preservation plans that are adopted by Dane County
- Urban Development
- The League supports cluster types of urban development with small lot sizes and more shared open space.
- League objectives should strengthen the role of the downtown area of Madison as a regional center for a wide variety of activities, including government, office activity, retail stores and entertainment.
- The League encourages rehabilitation of physically deteriorating portions of existing urban areas with emphasis on “in-filling” of vacant or under-used parcels that are in the urban service area.
- The League supports expenditures for sufficient public parks and recreation areas to meet the needs of the users.
- The League supports the detailed delineation and implementation of the system of environmental corridors within urban areas.
- Outlying Areas or Rural, Non-Farm Areas
The League supports:
- Reducing urban sprawl through buffer zones between communities and land-use districts
- Efforts to enhance Dane County’s essential character by preserving the unique assets of the outlying communities such as
- Their autonomy
- The small town atmosphere
- The close relationship of government and citizen
- Their variety of ages, occupations, and cultures
- Their natural areas – parks, marshes, ponds, creeks
- Their historic sites
- Using open space to achieve separation of communities and help guide urban growth
- Continued preservation of the physical and biological resources within the countywide open space corridor system as adopted in the Regional Development Guide.
- Allowing only low-impact recreational uses of natural resource protection areas
- Restoration of upland prairies, woodlands, and wetlands
- Continued implementation of the Nine Springs E-Way and Cherokee Marsh long-range plans
- Linking public lands and trails of various political jurisdictions to communities and population centers to amplify the availability and recreational use of these lands
- Providing access to lakes and streams and water-based recreation trails for use by canoes, kayaks, and similar watercraft.
- Prohibiting non-farm development in wetlands and floodplains and restricting it to areas containing soils unsuitable for agriculture.
- Planning Fundamentals
- Comprehensive master planning at each governmental level
- Regional planning
- Administrative and professional staffing
- Coordination of planning efforts among departments within the county government
- Cooperation of planning commissions with other governmental units and with each other
- Support of these criteria against which to weigh conflicting land-use demands: density, energy conservation, green building, access to public facilities
- Development of further planning criteria such as: economic, monetary, social and resource costs;
- Acquiring land for outdoor recreation, open space, scenic beauty, and fresh air
- Providing funds for park maintenance
- Planners’ Responsibilities
The League believes that planning agencies must
- Anticipate population growth and development pressures
- Identify environmental corridors and wetlands and other natural resources
- Identify population growth areas and coordinate school building with communication and transit systems within the population centers
- Consider joint action among municipalities on acquisition and maintenance of parklands
- Educate pertinent government employees, public officials, and the citizenry
- Planning Tools
The League believes governmental units must use certain tools if they are to implement their plans for guiding development, preserving open space, protecting environmental quality, and providing adequately for housing needs
- Realistic and effective zoning regulations, including meaningful agricultural zoning
- Extraterritorial planning and zoning powers
- “Cluster development” and “planned unit development” regulations
- A vigorous and ongoing program of land acquisition though gifts, grants, leasing, easements or outright purchase, even if capital budgeting is required
- Active pursuit of donations and grants from public and private sources
- Restricting the timing and location of development by control of utility services
- Tax concessions
- Legal devices by property owners to keep land undeveloped when it is in the public interest to do so
- Citizen Involvement
The League believes that citizen members of planning boards and commissions should be persons actively interested in the community and representative of a range of interests and experience.
- They should be able to consider the needs of the entire area in their jurisdiction.
- They should be chosen for overall competence rather than solely for any professional expertise.
- In the case of any conflict of interest, a member must abstain from discussion and voting.
- New members should be offered an orientation program.
- Citizens should receive pertinent land-use information from their government regularly.
- Protecting Natural Resources
- Transportation Systems and Plans in Dane County
Support of an Integrated, Multi-Modal Transportation System
- The League of Women Voters supports an integrated, multi-modal transportation system that provides for those of all ages and abilities access to schools, jobs, housing, services, education, and other destinations.
Support of Transportation Planning: [adopted prior to 1972]
- The following principles in transportation planning:
- With land use
- With other governmental units
- Among all modes of transportation
- Between immediate and long-range solutions, maintaining flexibility for the future
- Preservation of high environmental quality with attention to aesthetics, prevention of pollution and preservation of neighborhoods, the downtown area, and open spaces
- Consideration of people’s needs as well as safety, convenience and cost
- Recognizing that the local public transportation system is a responsibility of local government, the League supports its inclusion in comprehensive transportation planning and its adherence to the above principles
- The League also supports expansion of public transit in area covered, upgrading its service, and initiating efforts to encourage the public’s use and participation
Support of Railroads: [adopted1984]
- Railroads as an integral part of the public transportation system (freight and potentially passenger)
- Subsidies for railroads of economic importance
- Government purchase and maintenance of abandoned railroad, track, or track for which abandonment has been approved, if the track is considered important to local economies
- County financial contributions for railroad preservation within the county, recognizing that railroads may be a part of a multi-community network
- Preservation of Dane County’s railroad corridors
- Development of excess right-of-way in accordance with local land-use plans
Support of Local and Regional Transit Systems: [adopted 5/13/1992]
- Continued efforts to include additional Madison area communities in contracts with Madison Metro and Metro Plus
- County participation in funding and coordination of federally mandated services with significant state and federal aid. Consideration should be given to participation of the private sector and help for smaller communities that might be forced to close down transit systems under the costs of federal mandates.
- Enabling state and county legislation for a regional transit district (without specifying metropolitan or county)
- High priority be given to certain criteria
- Fiscal and regulatory control by a general purpose government
- Long-term commitment by communities who join a regional system
- A central dispatch system for Dane County specialized transportation services with careful study of its implementation
- High or medium priority be given to:
- Tax or assessment (fiscal) equity through periodic review of differing service levels in a regional system
- Keeping Madison Metro service high, while permitting flexibility in routes
- Funding of transportation needs must be considered as a major budget item together with other needs of “transit-disabled” citizens
Recent LWVDC Statements, Studies, and Position Updates
Statement to the Dane County Board, 10/24/05
Energy position, 6/07