That state budget Governor Scott Walker will sign Thursday includes a surprise provision that could make it much more difficult for local government units to acquire land needed for trails and sidewalks. They’ve long had power to “condemn” or acquire through eminent domain property needed for public purposes.
“We’ve heard from municipalities all over the state who are concerned about,” said Dave Cieslewicz, executive director of the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation. “Other municipalities will say that they’ve never used it for this purpose. But it’s very existence makes projects possible.”
Language slipped into the 2017-2019 state budget denies municipalities the ability to use condemnation. And as Cieslewicz noted, its origins are unknown. “This has no public hearing, no one had an opportuinity to ask questions, we don’t even know where it came from.”
Cieslewicz said the change will inevitably mean some projects will be stopped or delayed, and will lead to litigation.