Law and Legislation

Legislative Alert:

10/18/2017 Update:
There is a public hearing tomorrow (10/17) beginning at 10 AM in Room 411 South at the Capitol on the proposed “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.”  This is joint hearing of the Assembly Committee on Housing & Real Estate and the Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, & Trade. This bill (AB479/SB387) is a response to the Murr decision as well as recent mining-related court decisions, and includes the following:
· Prohibits cities, villages, towns, and counties from prohibiting development on nonconforming lots;
· Prohibits cities, villages, towns, and state agencies from using merger provisions for nonconforming lots;
· Requires issuance of a Conditional Use Permit if the applicant agrees to meet all conditions in the ordinance;
· Requires CUP decisions to be based on substantial evidence, not public testimony alone;
· Codifies standards and reaffirms property owner’s burden in variance requests;
· Prohibits cities, villages, towns, and counties from requiring a variance to replace nonconforming structures;
· Exempts small privately owned ponds from DNR permitting; and
· Codifies that fair market value in takings shall be calculated on a per-parcel basis.
The Legislative Committee of APA-WI is opposed to this bill.  We feel that it includes numerous ill-advised provisions and will have numerous unintended consequences, especially as it relates to taking CUP’s out of the planner’s toolbox.  If you are available & willing, please consider testifying against this legislation. 


10/16/2017 Update:

There is a public hearing today on Senate Bill 425, which is another pre-emption bill that will limit municipal authority over small cell wireless facilities in the public right-of-way.  Sorry for the last minute notice, but if you’re in the Madison area and engaged on this issue, the hearing begins at 9 AM today in Room 411 South of the Capitol before the Senate Committee on Elections & Utilities.  SB425 is one of the last bills of a packed meeting agenda.

The APA-WI Legislative Committee has voted to remain neutral on this bill.  While most of the bill relates to right-of-way, there is a provision in the bill that would restore the ability of municipalities to impose setbacks on towers outside of the right-of-way in single-family zoning districts, but would limit the setback to the height of the tower and would allow neighboring property owners to waive the setback.

More info is available at:

9/18/2017 Update: Both the state Assembly and Senate approved the state budget last week that included the ill-advised provision to remove all local control over quarries.  Fortunately, according to the League of WI Municipalities, Governor Walker has agreed to veto this provision in its entirety.  Thanks to those of you who have been active on this issue, but our work is not over.

There are two other significant policy items that were tucked into the budget by the Joint Finance Committee:

  • A provision that would prohibit municipalities from banning home rentals for 7 days or more.
  • A provision that would prohibit use of eminent domain to acquire land for bike paths and recreational trails.

These provisions are both unnecessary attacks on local control, and may have many unintended consequences on housing affordability and multi-modal transportation networks.  Please consider contacting Gov. Walker’s Office today to thank him for preserving local control over quarries and to ask him to preserve local control over home rentals and bike/pedestrian paths.

Finally, the Foxconn legislation has been approved and is expected to be signed today.

The APA-WI Legislative Committee has voted to oppose the proposed federal budget that has been introduced by the new administration.  The proposed budget has already received a lot of attention due to the draconian cuts that have been proposed.  The American Planning Association (APA) has been very active in opposing the budget, and has released the following statement in opposition: APA Statement on FY 2018 Federal Budget Proposal
According to APA’s analysis of the proposed budget, the following are just some of the programs familiar to planners that are proposed for total elimination:
·         Transportation:  TIGER, New Starts Transit
·         Housing:  CDBG, HOME, Choice Neighborhoods
·         EPA (31% overall cut):  Brownfields, Clean Power, Great Lakes
·         Commerce:  EDA, NOAA grants
·         Homeland:  Hazard Mitigation grants, NFIP flood mapping
The cuts to other key programs are too numerous to list.  Please contact your elected representatives and voice your support for these and other vital programs that are facing drastic cuts and even elimination.  APA is also asking membership to sign the following letter (due today) in support of community development and transportation funding.  I have signed on behalf of the APA-WI Legislative Committee.

Planners are encouraged to contact Drew Pennington, VP of Chapter Affairs, with information, questions or concerns about proposed legislation.

APA-WI  Bylaws

Bylaws (revised November 2016)

Legislative Report

Legislative Update March 2017

Case Law Updates

The website for APA members in Wisconsin.