Proposed plan to have one final hearing

Document spells out directions, recommendations for next 10 years
Kevin Passon

Shawano County residents will have one final chance to offer input on the Shawano County Comprehensive and Farmland Preservation Plan. A public hearing will be hosted by the planning, development and zoning committee and held at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 in Rooms A and B at the Shawano County Courthouse, 311 N. Main St.

As stated in the plan, the document will help guide future physical, social, and economic growth and development in Shawano County.

The plan contains the nine elements for comprehensive planning required by Wisconsin law, including: issues and opportunities; land use; transportation; economic development; housing; utilities and community facilities; agricultural, natural and cultural resources; intergovernmental cooperation; and implementation.

This plan will also help guide the preservation of farmland and agricultural resources in Shawano County. It identifies, describes and documents current agricultural infrastructure, agricultural resources and trends, examines land use across the unincorporated areas of the county, and identifies areas and land for farmland preservation and implementation strategies.

According to local officials, the primary change to the plan is that the county will no longer track and limit residential development rights in the open lands, agriculture, residential (OAR) zoning district. This change will apply to all towns under county zoning that have that zoning district.

Officials also note that the Town of Navarino has decided to rezone all farmland and forest preservation (FP) zoning parcels to OAR zoning, but is keeping land in the FP plan if landowners want to enter into an Agriculture Enterprise Area (AEA) with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Navarino’s amendment will take place early in 2024.

Other directions and recommendations include:

• Implement natural resource identification and non-metallic mineral extraction operational standards.

• Cooperate with state and regional agencies and local communities on a comprehensive survey of archaeological and historical resources.

• Work with towns, cities and villages to maintain the county’s rural character by managing the pace, size and location of new development. Future land use maps show recommended locations for different types of future development.

• Assure that new developments are sustainable and positive for the county from fiscal, transportation, economic, building quality and environmental perspectives.

• Develop a countywide plan for trail enhancements, expansions and connections including a central loop trail system and “safe routes to school.” Promote the protection of the rural character along scenic roadways.

• Provide a wide range of housing choices, including affordable and “missing middle” housing.

• Promote renewable energy development in suitable areas within the county as a means of economic development and job creation.

How those goals are achieved is a separate issue.

Many follow-up actions will require substantial cooperation with local governments and property owners before implementation, according to the plan. The county intends to coordinate with other units of government on service delivery, farmland and natural resources protection, transportation planning, economic development, resolution of land use conflict, and ordinance modernization.

Public hearings on the plan, which is updated every 10 years, were already held in February and October.

If approved by the committee, it will be forwarded to the county board for approval Dec. 20.