In 1999, the Wisconsin Legislature enacted legislation that expanded the scope and significance of comprehensive planning in the State. The legislation, sometimes referred to as the State’s "Smart Growth" law, provides a framework for the development, adoption, implementation, amendment, and update of comprehensive plans by regional planning commissions and by county, city, village, and town units of government. The law is set forth in Section 66.1001 of the Wisconsin Statutes. SEWRPC has prepared the following information to assist county and local governments with comprehensive planning:
Status of Comprehensive Plans in Southeastern Wisconsin:
Incorporating SEWRPC Plans into County and Local Comprehensive Plans:
A number of communities are considering or have begun updating their comprehensive plan to meet the Statutory requirement that comprehensive plans be updated no less than once every 10 years (Section 66.1001(2)(i) of the Statutes). Due to limited staffing resources, SEWRPC will focus on providing assistance for updating comprehensive plans to county and local governments that are part of an adopted county-local multi-jurisdictional plan or to towns that are governed by a county general zoning ordinance.
Several plan updates have recently been completed or are underway by SEWRPC, including:
- Town of Lyons
- Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Plan for Walworth County (underway)
- Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Plan for Washington County
Although SEWRPC lacks the resources to prepare comprehensive plan updates for all local governments in the Region, SEWRPC will provide available data to communities on request, and will also provide comments on draft plans, plan elements, or other plan materials on request. SEWRPC also maintains a list of planning consultants that may be available to assist individual communities with updating comprehensive plans.
Although the comprehensive planning law requires a 10-year update, there is no guidance on the scope or content of plan updates. Although each local government should determine the scope of its local plan update, the following are a few of the options: 1) Review and reaffirm the existing plan, or the originally-adopted plan with amendments that have been made periodically since the plan was adopted; 2) Minor updates, corrections, or refinements to the plan; 3) A more substantial update, but short of a full update to the plan; and 4) A full update of the plan.
The community’s existing comprehensive plan may already include guidance on the timing and process for updating the plan, and should be reviewed to help determine the scope of the plan update. County and local governments that have made periodic amendments to their plan since its initial adoption may also want to consider, and discuss with their municipal attorney, whether those periodic amendments could be considered plan updates that meet the requirement of Section 66.1001(2)(i).
SEWRPC has prepared the following materials to assist with plan updates:
Many communities have amended or are considering amendments to their comprehensive plans. The comprehensive planning law requires the same procedures for adopting a comprehensive plan to be used when the plan is amended. These include adoption of public participation procedures by the governing body, a public hearing on the proposed amendment with a 30-day public hearing notice, a review and recommendation from the Plan Commission, adoption of the amendment by an ordinance approved by the governing body, and distribution of the adopted amendment to adjacent communities and other interested parties. SEWRPC has developed the following materials to assist in amending comprehensive plans.
Sample Forms for Amending Comprehensive Plans:
Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Planning Programs in Southeastern Wisconsin
Following enactment of the Wisconsin comprehensive planning law in 1999, SEWRPC offered to work with each of the seven counties in the Region to produce county comprehensive plan documents. Six of the counties conducted multi-jurisdictional planning programs to produce a county comprehensive plan and companion local plans for participating cities, towns, and villages (see map of multi-jurisdictional partnerships). Information on the county comprehensive planning programs is provided below. Please note that many comprehensive plans have been amended and/or are being updated. Contact the County or local government directly if you require current comprehensive plan information.
Kenosha County and nine cities, towns, and villages were awarded a State comprehensive planning grant in 2006 to prepare a multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan. SEWRPC and UW-Extension assisted in developing the plan. The Kenosha County Board adopted the plan on April 20, 2010. The adopted plan is available here.
The Villages of Bristol and Silver Lake and the Towns of Brighton, Bristol (subsequently annexed by the Village of Bristol), Paris, and Somers adopted the multi-jurisdictional plan document as their local comprehensive plan. The Towns of Salem and Wheatland, the Village of Pleasant Prairie, and the City of Kenosha have adopted separate comprehensive plans based on the multi-jurisdictional plan. More information, including amendments to the multi-jurisdictional plan adopted by the County Board, is available on the Kenosha County website: http://www.co.kenosha.wi.us/index.aspx?NID=776
Ozaukee County was awarded a State comprehensive planning grant in 2004. With the exception of the City of Cedarburg, all cities, towns, and villages in the County, including the Village of Newburg which straddles the Ozaukee-Washington County line, participated in a multi-jurisdictional planning program to develop a comprehensive plan for the County and each of the participating local governments. SEWRPC and UW-Extension assisted in preparing the plans. The multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan was adopted by the Ozaukee County Board on April 2, 2008. All local plans were adopted by April 14, 2009. An amendment to the multi-jurisdictional plan to incorporate the local plans was approved by the Ozaukee County Board on May 6, 2009. The adopted County plan, as amended in May 2009, is available here. Additional information about the plan, including amendments adopted by the County Board after May 6, 2009, is available on the Ozaukee County website: http://www.co.ozaukee.wi.us/889/Comprehensive-Planning.
Racine County and all 17 cities, towns, and villages were awarded a State comprehensive planning grant in 2006 to prepare a multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan. SEWRPC and UW-Extension assisted in developing the plan. The multi-jurisdictional plan was adopted by the Racine County Board on October 13, 2009. The multi-jurisdictional plan document was adopted as the local comprehensive plan by 16 of the 17 participating communities. The adopted multi-jurisdictional plan is available here. The seventeenth community, the City of Racine, endorsed the multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan and adopted a city comprehensive plan based upon the multi-jurisdictional plan. The adopted City of Racine plan is available here. More information is available on the Racine County UW-Extension website: http://racine.uwex.edu/racine-county-comprehensive-planning/.
Walworth County and 13 towns worked together on a multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan with assistance from SEWRPC. The plan was adopted by the Walworth County Board on November 10, 2009. Each participating town adopted the multi-jurisdictional plan as the town comprehensive plan prior to County Board adoption. The adopted multi-jurisdictional plan is available here. More information is available here.
Work on updating the Walworth County multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan was initiated in 2017. The completed Draft chapters of the plan is available for public review below.
Washington County, 10 towns, and one village were awarded a State comprehensive planning grant in 2005. SEWRPC and UW-Extension were also part of the planning process. The multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan was adopted by the Washington County Board on April 15, 2008. The adopted County plan is available here. Local comprehensive plans based on the multi-jurisdictional plan were adopted by the Town of Addison, Town of Barton, Town of Erin, Town of Farmington, Town of Hartford, Town of Kewaskum, Village of Kewaskum, Town of Polk, Town of Trenton, and Town of Wayne. The Town of Germantown adopted the multi-jurisdictional plan document as the Town comprehensive plan. More information, including amendments to the comprehensive plan adopted by the County Board, is available on the Washington County website: http://www.co.washington.wi.us/departments.iml?mdl=departments.mdl&ID=PLN.
An update of the Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Plan for Washington County was adopted by the County Board on April 10, 2019. Information about the update is available on the Planning and Parks Department page of the Washington County website.
The Waukesha County comprehensive plan was adopted by the Waukesha County Board on February 24, 2009. The County was awarded a State comprehensive planning grant to assist with the plan. The planning effort was led by County and UW-Extension staff with participation from SEWRPC and 29 cities, villages, and towns. More information, including the plan report and plan amendments adopted by the County Board, is available on the Waukesha County website: http://www.waukeshacounty.gov/defaultwc.aspx?id=39492
State of Wisconsin–Department of Administration Comprehensive Planning Web Page:
SEWRPC Contact for Comprehensive Planning Information:
Ben McKay, AICP