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Bring along your ideas to Smart Growth brainstorming sessions

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Mike Heine
December 4, 2007
— People who have ideas about shaping Walworth County’s future and who have the courage to share them with a crowd can have their say at one of three remaining Smart Growth meetings.

Public input plays a huge role in shaping the plan that will guide Walworth County’s growth and development through at least 2035, said Gary Korb, regional planning educator with the UW Extension.


Planners will draft the Smart Growth plan around public input received from surveys, at committee meetings and at brainstorming sessions such as the one Monday night at Richmond Town Hall.


The three remaining public input sessions will focus on gathering ideas on Walworth County’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.


Strengths and weaknesses are the positives and negatives of what’s happening now. Opportunities and threats are the positives and negatives of the future.


Highlights of the brainstorming Monday night include:


Strengths—Minimum lot size, excellent education system, diverse agricultural base, excellent medical resources, access to cities, countywide zoning, recreational opportunities, accessible groundwater, police protection, well maintained roads, higher education systems.
Weaknesses—Annexation powers of cities and villages, high of taxes, lack of industry, quarrels between governments, no public transportation system, brain drain, complexity and cost of zoning and rezoning, countywide zoning, falling wages, volunteer instead of full-time firefighters and emergency medical responders, lake pollution, development pressure on resources.
Opportunities—Purchasing development rights for farmland preservation, large environmental corridors, learning from neighboring communities, consideration of soil types and terrain when deciding on land division, creation of boundary agreements.
Threats—More people on fixed incomes unable to afford infrastructure, eminent domain, lack of trust between public and government officials, loss of aging population to other areas, groundwater availability and quality, loss of woodlands, loss of land on tax rolls.
WHAT’S NEXT?

In 2008, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, which is developing the Smart Growth plan for the 12 townships that partnered in the effort, will complete its long-range projections and identify goals and objectives.


In 2009, a draft of the plan will be completed and presented for public review.


If approved by the towns involved, changes to local zoning codes can begin to bring them in compliance with the plan. Changes must be made an enacted by Jan. 1, 2010.


“The key is to get growth to occur in appropriate places and preserve our natural resources to the best extent possible,” said Neal Frauenfelder, senior planner for Walworth County.


Upcoming public participation meetings will be:


Tonight—Darien Town Hall, N2826 Foundry Road, Darien.


Monday—East Troy Town Hall, N9330 Stewart School Road, East Troy.


Tuesday, Dec. 18—Linn Town Hall, W3728 Franklin Walsh St., Zenda.


Each meeting will be from 5:30 p.m. until about 7:30 p.m.



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