Planning & Development Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

In light of the emerging COVID-19 crisis, the Dane County Planning & Development office will be CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC effective 4:30pm, Wednesday March 18th. Department staff will continue to answer questions and process zoning applications via phone and email, where possible.

Information on Town Zoning Withdrawal

Update on Town Withdrawal from Dane County Zoning

Legislation approved in 2016 allows towns in Dane County, and only Dane County, to withdraw ("opt out") from coverage of the county zoning ordinance and other land use regulations. Six towns - Berry, Blue Mounds, Bristol, Springfield, Sun Prairie, Westport - have voted to officially withdraw from county zoning. These towns are now establishing their own system of zoning and land use administration, which will take effect on January 1, 2018.

Due to the time required to process various permit applications, Dane County will no longer accept the following land use permit applications for the six towns as of October 1, 2017:

  • Zoning map amendments (rezones)
  • Conditional Use Permits
  • Variances

Dane County will continue to issue zoning permits in the 6 towns through the end of 2017. Note that shoreland zoning permits are unaffected by this change, as the shoreland zoning regulations will continue to be administered by Dane County in the 6 towns.

All questions about future development proposals in the six towns listed above should be directed to the respective towns.

The Department of Planning and Development has assembled the following information regarding town zoning withdrawal ("opt out") for interested citizens and officials. County staff remained concerned that towns that withdraw from county zoning will experience a significant decline in services and an increase in costs.

The county has long assisted towns in facilitating responsible rural growth while preserving farmland and the rural character town citizen cherish. Because of the economy of scale at which it operates, the county is able to provide a wide range of products and services to towns in an efficient, cost effective, and responsive manner.

Towns that choose to opt out will need to replicate many of those products and services at considerable cost. If you have questions about any of the information, please contact Dane County staff at 266-4251.

Copies of the relevant state legislation– Access to state statutes here.

Act 178 – Town zoning withdrawal
2015 Wisconsin Act 178- Authorizing town withdrawal from Dane County zoning

2017 Assembly Bill 109 - Revising the Process of Town Zoning Withdrawal Assembly Bill (AB) 109 - Removing town citizen vote and amending notice and timeline requirements. State information available here.
AB 109 Amendment 1 - Reinstate Act 178 Town Citizen Vote
AB 109 Amendment 2 – Regarding powers of town meetings
AB 109 Amendment 3 –Vote at Special Town Meeting
AB 109 Amendment 4 – Tax Levy Transfer to Opt Out Towns
Representative Allen Opposition to AB 109 Repeal of Town Citizen Vote
AB 109 Public Hearing Record – Written Testimony Submitted on AB 109

Information and analysis by Dane County Planning and Development Staff.

Act 178 – Town zoning withdrawal
Dane County Zoning Services Cost Estimate
Informational Bulletin on Town Zoning Withdrawal - March 2016
Town Zoning Withdrawal Procedure and Timelines - June 2016
Town of Verona Q&A responses from DC Staff - January 2017
DATCP Letter on Town Farmland Preservation Zoning Certification - March 2017

Questions & Answers on Town Withdrawal from County Zoning

2017 Assembly Bill 109 - Revising the Process of Town Zoning Withdrawal
Violante email to town officials - March 2017

Analysis of AB 109 Changes to Town Zoning Citizen Vote and Timeline

News articles - regarding Dane County town zoning withdrawal legislation.

2015 Wisconsin Act 178
Wisconsin State Journal - Towns Push Lawmakers to Strip Dane County Land Use Powers

Wisconsin State Journal - Dane County Towns Split on Bill that Would Allow Opt-Out of County Zoning Control

2017 Assembly Bill 109
Middleton Times Tribune - Bill would allow towns to opt out without citizen vote
Mt Horeb Mail - Towns Express Grave Concerns over DCTA
Cambridge News - State Bill Cuts Citizens out of Zoning Votes
Oregon Observer - Bill Would Allow Town Opt-Outs Without Vote
Capital Times - Town Boards Could Opt Out of County Zoning Under GOP Bill
Capital Times – Some Members at Odds with DCTA Over Zoning Bill

Letters opposing town zoning withdrawal - Act 178 and AB 109 letters submitted by a number of towns and town citizens.

Act 178 Letter from 10 Dane County Towns - January 2016
Act 178 DC Cities & Villages Association - November 2015
AB109 Letter from Dane County Town Officials and Citizens – March 2017

Information from Dane County Towns Association- Supporting town zoning withdrawal and AB 109.

DCTA Memo on passage of Act 178 – March 2016
PowerPoint Presentation to Towns on town zoning withdrawal – March 2016
DCTA Town zoning withdrawal timeline – July 2016
Town Model Zoning Ordinance Draft 7.0 – December 2016
Mark Hazelbaker email to towns on AB 109 – March 2017
Draft Contract for Zoning Services with General Engineering Company