CARPC questions Fitchburg developments

Staff to bring final plan to commissioners on two neighborhoods
By: 
Scott Girard

If you go
What: CARPC meeting on Fitchburg expansion
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 14
Where: TBD, possibly in Fitchburg
Info: Visit capitalarearpc.org

After getting some initial comments from a regional planning body, plans to prepare the city for development on its eastern and western fringes will go back for approval next month.

The Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, which advises the state on extensions of sewer service, heard preliminary presentations from staffers at the June CARPC meeting on expanding Fitchburg’s urban service area (USA) into the Northeast and North Stoner Prairie neighborhoods.

Discussion mainly centered on how the developments fit with city transportation plans, environmental effects on surrounding areas and stormwater. Commissioners asked staff to investigate further.

A USA is the area within which a municipality can provide a set of services including sewer service, and CARPC advises the state Department of Natural Resources on approving extensions to that service. Most urban development is impossible without it.

CARPC had been essentially the final word until a 2010 decision on a lawsuit from the Village of Mazomanie clarified that its decisions are only advisory to the DNR. Its decisions have often been highly political, in contrast to that of its predecessor, the Dane County Regional Planning Commission.

In order for a proposal to get a recommendation from the commission, eight of its 13 members must vote in favor.

That vote is likely to happen at the commission’s Aug. 14 meeting, where staff will deliver its final presentation on the neighborhoods after addressing the questions at the June meeting. That commission is tentatively planning to hold that August meeting in Fitchburg, said CARPC director of environmental resources planning Kamran Mesbah.

When the Fitchburg Common Council decided to forward the plans to CARPC earlier this spring, the West Waubesa Preservation Coalition presented the city with a petition against it, signed by 625 residents, due to the Northeast Neighborhood’s proximity to the wetlands.

CARPC’s July 10 meeting was expected to have a presentation on the quality and significance of the Waubesa Wetlands by professor Calvin B. DeWitt of Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

For a full list of staff suggestions and questions from the June presentation, visit capitalarearpc.org and download the packet for the July 10 meeting, which includes the June meeting minutes.

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