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Falk Announces “Lessons Learned” from Attain Dane Land-Use Initiative

For more information contact:

Lesley Sillaman, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 8/4/2005

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Sun Prairie – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today returned to the site of the first Attain Dane listening session, the Sun Prairie Town Hall, to present the “lessons learned” from the eight Attain Dane listening sessions held in all corners of Dane County from January to June of this year.

Attain Dane, Falk’s land-use initiative, invited citizens to any of eight listening-working sessions to look at the current maps of the planned growth in their communities and their neighboring communities and to suggest where they think the county should grow and where we should preserve land. Approximately 500 people attended the sessions, and over 200 people provided written comments to the County Executive either at the sessions or as follow up. The sessions were held in the towns of Sun Prairie and Christiana, the villages of Cross Plains, Oregon, and DeForest and the cities of Verona and Madison and with the young professionals MAGNET group.

“Our communities are sprawling together and we must act now in order to protect what we love about Dane County. In 20 or 30 years, we don’t want to look like the Houston of the Midwest, and we don’t have to.”

Through the listening sessions, Falk heard from citizens about their concerns, including the impact of sprawl and of losing the unique character of the various cities, towns and villages in Dane County. People specifically mentioned concerns about protecting our lakes and streams and productive agriculture land and the growing problems with traffic and the cost of new housing.

Falk noted: “The challenge is that Dane County is growing by 60,000 people a decade. Seven of Dane County’s cities and villages are in the top 10% statewide in population growth rate. Many local governments have completed, or are in the process of doing their comprehensive planning, but often municipalities have plans for the same parcels of land, setting up potential conflict and legal fights.”

Even with comprehensive planning, local governments plan to add 64,118 total acres – that’s like doubling the size of all of Dane County’s cities. Falk pointed out that under these plans, our children will live in a metropolitan area of one million people, more than double our current population.

“We have to change so we don’t swallow up so much farmland or pollute our lakes and rivers, forever diminishing the quality of life we all enjoy,” she said.

These facts, coupled with increased housing costs (the average new home in Dane County now costs $275,759) and with local governments finding it more and more difficult to hold the line on property taxes, demonstrate the need for a regional planning process that allows us to grow where we want to, and hold on to what we love.

The next phase in the Attain Dane process will be the creation of a county-wide map that details what citizens think growth plans should be. Falk will take the same, feedback-oriented approach to creating the map as she did with the listening sessions. She will be talking with citizens, experts and interested community groups to get their input on strategies on how to make the map stick. Falk hopes to complete the mapping process by early 2006.


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