Dumbing Down Smart Growth

The Legislature should reject another attempt to change the state’s SmartGrowth planning law. It works fine as is.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial

Of the 1,600 or so Wisconsin communities covered by the state’s SmartGrowth law, only about 100 are not on track to meet the law’s requirements. Yet at this late stage, 12 years after the law was enacted, and with the vast majority of communities complying, Republican legislators want to give municipalities a chance to opt out.

What a mistake – to reduce citizen control of their communities and increase the chances for sprawl and ill-conceived developments that can change the character of a community against the wishes of residents. The Legislature should reject this proposal, as it has previous attempts.

Let’s review what the SmartGrowth bill does: It requires communities to develop a long-range plan (a 20-year vision) that will provide a “rational basis for local land use decisions, according to the state Department of Administration’s website. (Some of the state’s 1,922 governments are exempt because they don’t have land use authority; Milwaukee County doesn’t have to create a plan because all of the land in the county is covered by some other jurisdiction.)

The law also requires “public participation at the local level in deciding a vision for the community’s future. The uniqueness of individual comprehensive plans reflects community-specific and locally driven planning processes.”

Read the entire editorial