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Dane County Executive Announces Land Use Wrap-Up Session

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has announced a wrap-up meeting for the Dane County Land Use Workshop series that ended last month. The four-part workshop series brought hundreds of Dane County citizens together to discuss options for improving the way Dane County is growing. The session will be Wednesday, March 11 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Dane County Expo Center.

Falk discussed the wrap-up session last week during a land-use planning seminar at the Land Information and Computer Graphics Facility at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Introduced by Dean Neal Jorgensen of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Falk spoke to a more than 100 faculty, county officials and students. “The key issue for us now is to take the next thoughtful steps on how to grow and develop,” she said.

Falk reviewed the efforts over the last few months that involved 20 listening sessions throughout the county and four workshops held in Madison. Armed with views from a cross-section of citizens on how and where to spend county money, Falk said the next step is to “see what kind of process we can engage on a community level to 1) eliminate polarization and 2) generate the best home-grown ideas.”

The workshops, she explained, brought together people of diverse backgrounds to think creatively about “our mutual goal of growing intelligently.” The workshops helped break down stereotypes we had about each other, she said.

Among the important lessons she has gleaned over the last year, she noted, “It may be the obvious ones, such as rewarding people who are choosing a behavior for the common good.” She cited a De Forest banker who complained about a year-and-a-half-long permitting process he endured to place a bank within village limits when he could have built the bank in the “cornfields,” thereby adding to sprawl, in a much shorter time frame.

“Here was someone trying to do the right thing,” said Falk. “Our guiding philosophy ought to be to make the system respond faster when trying to do something consistent with community goals.”

The March 11 wrap-up session will offer an unedited compilation of all the ideas that have been generated, she said. A panel of workshop participants, including a Wisconsin State Journal editor and a UW-Madison land-use law professor, will be on hand to offer observations and reactions to the workshop process. The meeting will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Dane County Expo Center.