I've asked some grassroots activists whose groups have been featured on this blog to send a year-end updates. I'll be running them this week. Here's the first about an effort in Dane County to protect Lake Waubesa from encroaching development:
On Nov. 13 the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) voted 6 to 6 on Fitchburg's application to bring its "Northeast Neighborhood" into its Urban Service Area (USA). Since CARPC rules require a super-majority of 8 to pass such a request, it failed. This was a huge victory, since the CARPC hardly ever rejects any applications.
But the CARPC merely advises the Department of Natural Resources on Urban Service Area extensions; the DNR has the final say. If, as expected, Fitchburg appeals the CARPC's decision, the DNR might approve the application or send it back to the CARPC for a second look.
The West Waubesa Preservation Coalition has been fighting this proposed development for 9 years, and has mobilized hundreds of concerned citizens in Fitchburg and beyond. Over 1100 people signed petitions against the project. For those inside Fitchburg, a major concern is the risk to taxpayers of trying to develop too many areas at once. Fitchburg currently has 1126 developable acres within its USA, and creating another set of infrastructure to maintain isn't fiscally responsible.
And people all over the county have rallied to protect Lake Waubesa and the Waubesa Wetlands from the siltation, petrochemical pollution, and excess nutrients that would flow into it from a developed Northeast Neighborhood. The research, testimony, and writings of wetland scientists Dr. Cal DeWitt and Dr. Joy Zedler have been key in showing people what's at stake. (For more info, go to to: http://vimeo.com/104251802 and watch the 20 min. video!) The wetlands will only be safe when the developable part of the Northeast Neighborhood has been purchased and dedicated to nature-friendly purposes.
Chair, West Waubesa Preservation Coalition