Some of the 17 rural towns in Buffalo County might take issue now and then with county zoning laws, but all overwhelmingly want the county to continue overseeing and enforcing zoning regulations.
Sixteen of the town boards responded to a recent county survey asking if towns favored having Buffalo County administer a countywide zoning ordinance or if the town board would rather permit development individually. All 16 towns indicated they wanted to stay with countywide zoning, according to Tom Taylor, chairman of the county’s Land Resources Committee.
The Glencoe Town Board did not respond to the survey, but Glencoe’s county board representative, Jim Ziegeweid, said Glencoe had no interest in discontinuing county zoning.
The land resources committee ordered the survey in August in frustration over heat the county was taking at zoning meetings and hearings about regulating frac sand mining.
“Criticism by citizens over the last several months has warranted the land resources committee to investigate if county zoning is effective and properly serving the residents and land owners,” read a survey letter sent to town boards.
Ziegeweid said the survey was a publicity stunt to win over people who have challenged county zoning policies and decisions.
Fay Passow of Belvidere and Dennis Youngbauer of Nelson, both members of the land resources committee, favored doing the survey.
Passow said towns understand that countywide zoning laws have changed over the years and remained uniform. She said it would cause nothing but headaches if towns passed and tried to regulate their own zoning rules.
Passow said uniformity was key in shaping the countywide zoning ordinance. The ordinance dates back 40 years and has had many amendments and revisions.
Taylor said the survey results indicated the county and committee were doing a good job. Passow said there may be room for improvement in zoning regulations, but changes happen a few steps at a time.
As far as recommendations, the survey responses were concise. Belvidere representatives said some updating of the county ordinance was in order, and Naples suggested giving towns more information and control in the zoning application process.
Cross said the town did not have the resources and funding to handle its own zoning, a commonality among most of the respondents. And Maxville said it was completely satisfied with countywide zoning. County zoning was much more effective than town zoning, said Herb Pelke, chairman of the Maxville Town Board.
Waumandee representatives said 767 towns in Wisconsin operate under county zoning laws and that it was in Waumandee’s best interest to remain one of them.
“The expense encountered to provide zoning at the town level is not feasible due to limited finances,” representatives wrote, adding that the county has provided satisfactory zoning.