Dane County, Wisconsin: Plats versus Plows

This CAE working paper studies land use decision-making in Dane County, Wisconsin. Dane County, located in the south-central part of the state, is one of the fastest growing counties in the Midwest. Madison, Wisconsin is located in the center of the county. The county has about 1,229 square miles and an estimated population of 398,233 in 1996. About half of the people live in Madison and about 18 percent live in rural areas. The current farmland preservation programs and polices are not slowing the rate of conversion of farmland in Dane County. The author looks closely at three towns and the approaches they've taken to protecting farmland: Dunn, Oregon and Middleton. Dunn was one of the first towns in Dane County to create a planning commission and adopt exclusive agricultural zoning. A cost of community services study completed 1994 showed that agriculture, forest and open space lands created the least tax burden while residential lands created the most. A commission is now developing criteria for selecting parcels for a Purchase of Development Rights program. The town of Oregon adopted a land use plan that did not include exclusive agricultural zoning. Ten years later, in 1994, the town board decided to include exclusive agricultural zoning to try to hold on to its vanishing rural character. Middleton is one of the most densely populated townships Dane County. Its town board has developed a land use plan designed to preserve large areas of open space, natural resources and small farms. In response to the growing population in the town, and expansion of the cities of Middleton and Madison, the town board has chosen to encourage low-density residential development on unsewered, large lots to block annexation of additional land by the two cities.

Author: 
Jerry Paulson
Publisher: 
DeKalb, IL: American Farmland Trust
Page Numbers: 
14
Publication Date: 
November 1, 1997
Literature Category: 
Reports and Studies