Land Use


Land Use

The use of land is an important area of public policy determination. While most land use development is financed privately, each increment of urban growth inevitably exerts a demand on public facilities and services, and in the aggregate such increments require the investment of public capital in new or improved facilities and utilities. While detailed land use problems are primarily of local concern, the aggregate effects of changing land use activities are regional in scope. These aggregate effects not only can lead to a demand for new transportation and utility facilities, but also exert a demand upon a limited natural resource base. It is for these reasons that SEWRPC maintains a land use database and uses that data in preparing and maintaining current a regional land use plan. That regional land use plan, in turn, provides the fundamental basis for the preparation of other regional plans dealing with transportation, utility, and community facilities.

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VISION 2050: A Regional Land Use and Transportation Plan

VISION 2050 (which updates the year 2035 regional land use and transportation plan) provides a guide for developing Southeastern Wisconsin and protecting natural and agricultural resources. It also provides a guide for developing the transit, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and streets and highways needed to serve the Region.


Regional Food System Plan

Work has begun on a Regional Food System Plan for Southeastern Wisconsin. The plan is recommended by VISION 2050, which recognizes a need to improve access to healthy foods for all residents, especially for low-income residents of the Region’s “food deserts.”


2035 Regional Land Use Plan

The 2035 regional land use plan (updated by VISION 2050) was adopted by SEWRPC in 2006. As a fifth generation plan, it has its roots in the original SEWRPC 1990 land use plan adopted in 1966. Both the original and year 2035 regional land use plans have three basic recommendations: the abatement and containment of urban sprawl, the protection and preservation of the natural resource base features found in environmental corridors, and the protection and preservation of prime agricultural land.


Population and Economic Forecasts

Fundamental to the preparation of the regional plans are population and economic activity forecasts extending to the plan design year. These forecasts are prepared at ten-year intervals following receipt of Federal decennial Census data, and relate to the future size, distribution, and composition of the regional population and the future number, distribution, and types of jobs in the Region.


Environmental Corridors

Environmental corridors are elongated areas in the landscape that encompass most of the best remaining woodland, wetlands, prairie, wildlife habitat, and surface water and attendant, floodlands and shorelands, together with many related historic, scenic, and recreational sites. SEWRPC regional plans have long recommended that these corridors be preserved in essentially natural, open uses.


Farmland Preservation

Prime agricultural lands are those remaining open lands best suited for agriculture. These areas can be defined by such factors as soil productivity, farm size, and the overall size of the farming area. SEWRPC plans have long recommended that steps be taken to preserve and protect such lands from intensive urban development.


Sanitary Sewer and Water Supply Service Areas

As part of its regional water quality management planning function, SEWRPC works with local wastewater treatment plant management agencies (local units of government, sanitary districts, and utility boards) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to prepare and update local sewer service area plans.


Land Use Data

The SEWRPC land use plan effort results in the development of a data base that is useful not only in regional planning, but county and local planning as well. A selection of 2010 Census figures for population and households is made available here.




Contact Us


Benjamin McKay, AICP
Deputy Director


Joel E. Dietl, AICP
Chief Land Use Planner


Nakeisha N. Payne
Public Involvement & Outreach Manager




Advisory Committee on Regional Land Use Planning

Advisory Committee on Population and Economic Forecasts


Related Links

Regional Performance Monitoring Website

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Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

W239 N1812 Rockwood Drive
P.O. Box 1607
Waukesha, WI 53187-1607

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Global Water Center
247 Freshwater Way
Milwaukee, WI 53204

By Appointment


Phone: (262) 547-6721


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