In 1999, the Wisconsin Legislature enacted a new law, often referred to as the State’s “Smart Growth” law, that provides a new framework for the development, adoption, and implementation of comprehensive plans by counties, cities, villages, and towns. The law, which is set forth in Section 66.1001 of the Wisconsin Statutes, requires county and local units of government to have an adopted comprehensive plan by January 1, 2010, in order to be able to continue to administer zoning, subdivision, or official map ordinances. The law further requires that those ordinances be consistent with the comprehensive plan beginning on January 1, 2010. The State law specifies matters which must be addressed in a comprehensive plan, requiring that a plan include the following nine elements: issues and opportunities; housing; transportation; utilities and community facilities; agricultural, natural, and cultural resources; economic development; intergovernmental cooperation; land use; and implementation.
Comprehensive Plan Completed for Walworth County and 13 Participating Towns
In response to the State requirements, Walworth County, in cooperation with 13 civil towns in the County, prepared a multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan. The participating towns include Darien, Delavan, East Troy, Geneva, LaFayette, LaGrange, Richmond, Sharon, Spring Prairie, Sugar Creek, Troy, Walworth, and Whitewater. Walworth County adopted the multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan in November 2009. Each of the 13 participating towns adopted the multi-jurisdictional plan as its comprehensive plan in September 2009. The plan is documented in a report titled A Multi-Jurisdictional Comprehensive Plan for Walworth County: 2035, which is found on this website. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) provided staff support for the planning work under contract with the County and participating towns.
It should be noted that the Towns of Bloomfield, Linn, and Lyons completed comprehensive plans independently. The land use elements of their comprehensive plans have been incorporated into the countywide land use plan map.
The land use plan maps set forth in the comprehensive plans of cities and villages in Walworth County are incorporated by reference into the countywide plan, within their corporate limits.
Relationship to Prior Planning Efforts
Long-range planning is not new in Walworth County. The pre-existing Walworth County land use plan, jurisdictional highway plan, park and open space plan, and farmland preservation plan address many of the required elements of a comprehensive plan. Many local units of government in the County, including many of the partnering towns, had already adopted local land use or master plans. In addition, areawide plans adopted by the Regional Planning Commission provide an important framework for county and local planning. The multi-jurisdictional planning process was carried out in a manner that built upon past planning efforts, expanding upon those as appropriate to meet the requirements of the State planning law.
Smart Growth Technical Advisory Committee
The comprehensive plan was prepared under the guidance of a Technical Advisory Committee established by the County Board (see Resolution No. 08-04/04 and resolutions to modify committee structure No. 37-08/07 and No. 04-04/08). The membership of the Committee included one elected representative from each participating town, and five Walworth County Board representatives at large (see TAC membership list).
The Walworth County Smart Growth Technical Advisory Committee encouraged the public to attend and participate at its meetings. The meetings were held at the County Board Room located in the Government Center (Old Courthouse, downtown Elkhorn)—100 West Walworth Street, Elkhorn, WI 53121. Two public comment periods were provided at each meeting.
Public Participation Plan
A public participation plan was approved by the Technical Advisory Committee, the County Board, and the participating towns at the outset of the planning process. The public participation plan specifies the steps—including public informational meetings, open houses, and other measures—taken in order to obtain a high level of public input throughout the course of the planning effort.
In accordance with the public participation plan, many public meetings were held during the planning process in order to obtain public input in the preparation of the comprehensive plan. In addition to the Technical Advisory Committee meetings, opportunities for public input were provided in a series of public participation meetings held in four quadrants of the County in December 2007; in another series of public participation meetings held in four quadrants of the County in July 2009; in open house/public hearings in each participating town held in September 2009; in a countywide open house/public hearing held in October 2009; and in numerous other town-level meetings held during the course of the planning effort.
Public Opinion Survey
A sample survey seeking public input on many of the issues addressed in the comprehensive plan was conducted in the summer of 2007. A survey questionnaire was sent to a random sample of resident households throughout the County and non-resident owners of residential property. A report describing the survey findings along with the survey methodology is presented in the "Walworth County Comprehensive Plan Public Opinion Survey".
Future Plan Amendments
General Arrangements for Plan Amendments
Sample Plan Amendment Petition Form
Comprehensive Plan Fact Sheet No. 2 (August 2009) summarizes key information gathered under the inventory, or the data collection phase of the planning program—including information regarding the population, economy, housing stock, agricultural and natural resource base, existing land use, existing utilities and community facilities, and existing plans and zoning
Comprehensive Plan Fact Sheet No. 4 (August 2009) provides an update on the status of the comprehensive planning program and presents the comprehensive plan goals and objectives
Comprehensive Plan Fact Sheet No. 5 (August 2009) provides a summary description of the preliminary land use element—preparation of the countywide land use plan is described and a description of the countywide land use plan is included
Other Study Materials
Walworth County Land Use and
Resource Management Department
100 W. Walworth Street
P.O. Box 1001
Elkhorn, WI 53121
Joel E. Dietl, AICP
Chief Land Use Planner
262-547-6722 Ext. 266