Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sprawl Occurs Through A Power Imbalance

Attorney and City of Monona alderman Peter McKeever has written eloquently about how Wisconsin's open lands are disappearing when powerful building and consulting interests overwhelm less well-armed town boards and decision-making commissions.

You might want to download and save McKeever's commentary from that WisOpinion link highlighted above, because WisOpinion postings vanish after a few days and are not archived on the site.

Here's a portion of the argument that McKeever, a long-time organizer in statewide land conservation efforts, presents in his Friday, March 30th essay:

"The local review and approval process is typically ripe with procedural and substantive errors and problems, often involving the failure of local government to follow public notice, open meetings and open records laws and the failure to properly apply local zoning laws and follow land use plans. The board members, the “deciders” have little experience dealing with big sprawl subdivisions complete with new lakes and mega-McMansions, office complexes, malls, and tree-lined boulevards in place of town roads and scattered farms. They much prefer to have the proposal go away, and the quickest way to accomplish that is to approve it.

Their town engineers are hired consultants, from the same firms that often do work for the developers. Local board members and plan commissioners do not have, or are unwilling to spend, funds for independent engineering reviews, environmental assessments, property tax analyses, and feasibility studies. They really have no idea what the real long-term impact will be on the place they claim to care about."


Lou Kaye said...

I want to thank you for this posting as it will help greatly in some research regarding local political environments.

James Rowen said...

My pleasure. Thanks for being a reader.

John said...

Excellent post - thanks for bringing my attention to it. I posted it on my blog, which addresses sprawl issues in Franklin, WI. We're seeing developers roll over any notion of "planning" every day.

James Rowen said...

Thanks, John; I got your blog on my roll now.