Over the past decade, communities across the state have worked to write long term comprehensive plans to guide development. The plans were required under the “Smart Growth” initiative enacted in 1999, although only about 95-percent of municipalities in the state have complied so far.
The holdouts would not have to worry about writing plans though, if a bill at the Capitol becomes law. Republican lawmakers have introduced a proposal that would allow communities to opt out of “Smart Growth,” and to also put an end to a grant fund that was designated to help develop those plans.
State Representative Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford says the bill will lift the mandate on communities to develop comprehensive plans, which many critics have argued actually restrict new development and infringe on private property rights. Suder says communities can still have those plans in place if they want to, but they will also have the option to change or stop abiding by the mandates.
AUDIO: Rep. Scott Suder :11
During a hearing on the bill Tuesday at the Capitol, state Representative Richard Spanbauer (R-Oshkosh) was among those who argued “Smart Growth” has actually helped communities attract developers. He says those making investments want to know what’s in store for the area around a development for years to come, which those plans can help provide.
AUDIO: Rep. Richard Spanbauer :08
Spanbauer also worries that rolling back “Smart Growth” requirements will mean communities have wasted tens of thousands of dollars developing plans over the last decade.
Suder says the decision should be left up to each community and the state should not place itself in a position of saying “this is how you plan, this is when you’re going to plan, and this is the timeline.” He says communities should also not face penalties if they decide local zoning ordinances are sufficient to control how an area is developed.
The bill is being considered by an Assembly committee.