Supervisors refuse state plan - Smart growth told 'No go' in Langlade County, Wisconsin

April 15, 2003

By Fred Berner
Antigo Daily Journal

Langlade County, Wisconsin - Langlade county board supervisors decided today that sometimes free oney
isn't the best money.

On a 15-6 vote, supervisors rejected a $234,000 comprehensive planning grant from the Wisconsin Department of Administration, suggesting that the dollars might commit the county to an uncomfortable marriage to the program known as 'Smart Growth.'

"Sometimes free money isn't quite as free as it looks," Supervisor Richard Olsen said.

In favor of accepting the grant, which would have provided reimbursement to the county and town involved in comprehensive planning, were John Kriha, Jack Marciniak, Pat McKinney, Paul Schuman, Gene Jacobus and Donald Wirth.

Rejecting the grant doesn't automatically end planning efforts.

Corporation Counsel Robin Stowe said that the county, or individual townships, could apply for the funds in the future. If the county had accepted the grant, and then returned the money, it would not have been eligible to apply for future dollars.

"I think it is wise to reject it and see what happens at the state level," Olsen said. "It may turn out [that] this thing goes up in smoke."

But Jacobus said the county is refusing money that towns interested in planning, need. Right now, 10 of the county's 17 towns have expressed an interest in participating. Seven other towns have either rejected the program or pulled out later.

"You're going to take away that planning grant money for probably 10 of the towns," Jacobus said. "Right now it is sitting there and all we have to do is approve it and they can use it. Let's let the towns that want to do planning, do planning."

Preliminary work on comprehensive planning dates [back] to 2001, when volunteers and government officials began meeting to bring order to planning chaos through a state statute that requires communities to adopt a
comprehensive plan by 2010 in order to engage in land use and create zoning regulations.

The program raised questions over the rights of property owners versus the regulatory arm of the state and questions have been raised over dozens of ambiguities, such as how the new plans would affect existing zoning regulations and whether towns without plans in place can regulate use.

An April 1 forum on the issue drew over 200 people to the multi-purpose building at the fairgrounds and the sentiments were almost universal -- don't tell us what to do on our own land.


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