Posts Tagged ‘Arnold Harris’

T. Wall’s Sprawl: Update on the Bishop’s Bay Paving, Shingling

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Below are the latest updates from the Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment (WDC/SGE).

Thanks again to Stefi & Arnold Harris for all of their hard work and astute research toward protecting Dane County’s rural areas from sprawl! Pit bulls have nothin’ on them!

Remember, the meeting is tonight, Thursday, November 12th at 7:00 PM in City-County Building, Room 315.



To: Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC)

From: Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment (WDC/SGE)

We ask that Kurt Sonnentag, (CARPC) member and also the current Mayor of Middleton to recuse himself from any discussion and or vote on the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport CUSA amendment request for the area known as Bishop’s Bay. As a matter of public record we want a sworn affidavit of disclosure of any ex parte communications

which Mr Sonnetag might have had with the owner(s) or representatives of T Wall Properties LLC, or in absence of such contacts, a sworn affidavit that there has never been any such ex parte communications. T Wall properties are the development firm on whose behest The City of Middleton and The Town of Westport are applying for the CUSA extension.

Stefi Harris and Arnold Harris



To:  Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC)

From: Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment (WDC/SGE)

Re: Request by the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport for the Central

Urban Service Area (CUSA) amendment

This is the follow up to WDC/SGE letter of 11-05-09 addressed to your agency. Since then, the CARPC staff report has been issued. We feel it is important to communicate to the commission our renewed as well as additional concerns over several major issues raised in the staff report.

Stormwater Runoff Control

The proposed development at Bishop’s Bay would replace large segments of the amendment area, now mostly in fields, woods and brush with impervious surfaces such as concrete, asphalt and roof shingles. Housing units are planned for 348 acres. Many of these would be large buildings with connected roofs and equally large parking lots that do not allow rain and snowmelt flow into the ground. Roads along with their right of ways, practically 100% impervious, would take up 83 acres. Commercial and institutional zones also nearly fully impervious would use up 51 acres and 46 acres respectively.

16.4 % of the amendment area is in steep slopes. The maps show many houses and a road in one such area. Under post-development conditions roads and houses cut into the hill slopes will effectively interrupt the inland flow and cause runoff. CARPC staff made no attempt to estimate runoff volume from any storms.  If such estimates were produced, they would show runoff volume sizes of many acres of water several feet deep covering large parts of the area.

In addition to causing apparent flooding, stormwater runoff causes hydrologic changes on receiving bodies of water, reduces recharge to groundwater and stream baseflow, contaminates water (CARPC staff report 6-8-09) and alters ecology of waters and shores.

Water Quality Standards

CARPC staff reports claims that if stringent standards are applied to control of post-development peak rates, infiltration and groundwater recharge, then the runoff volumes could be controlled. However, a study using the USGS Precipitation Modeling System (PRMS), modified to reproduce more realistic conditions such as flow of water from impervious areas to infiltration practices and ponding as a factor in infiltration, contradicts the notion that infiltration practices can always preserve runoff volumes (Lathrop and Potter 2004:7,8). The study concluded that runoff volumes could only be preserved where development is moderate.

Similarly, evaluation of the effectiveness of a large number of detention basins in the North Fork watershed concluded that “these measures might mitigate some adverse effects of development if properly located and the development was not too high” (Hunt and Steuer 2001).

Introduction of over 500 acres of surfaces that range from completely impervious to substantially impervious, into an area, which currently contains very few such features, constitutes a high intensity of development. It is doubtful that runoff volumes could be controlled as promised.

In August 2009, CARPC staff attempted to impose on Verona similar runoff control conditions to the ones recommended for Middleton-Westport, namely stringent standards to be applied to peak rates, runoff volume and groundwater recharge rates. An answer came from Robert E Phillips the City of Madison Engineer. Phillips wrote that it is unclear whether these three conditions could be met simultaneously and that there is no current stormwater management model “truly competent to handle” all three requirements (Phillips letter to CARPC 10-7-09).

It stretches credulity to claim that minimally 7.6, or some other number of inches/yr of precipitation will be recharged in some areas when other factors that interface with recharge – evaporation, transpiration, interflow and infiltration cannot be accurately measured.

CARPC staff insistence that adequate level of recharge could be forced by engineered means are grounded more in optimism rather then in reality. Steuer and Hunt (2001:29) indicate that at Pheasant Branch, most of the recharge occurs during winter and early spring when snow is melting. That is precisely the time when stormwater infiltration basins and other similar facilities are still frozen or clogged and in no condition to handle their task.

An additional complication is that many standards, including the initially impressive ones, become diluted at implementation. For example, NR 151 regulations pertaining to post-construction performance standards for sediments, peak discharge rates and infiltration of runoff have several escape clauses that refer to situations where standards cannot be achieved and therefore are allowed to be lowered to “the maximum extent practicable”.

Lake Mendota

It is certain that increased runoff from the amendment area would not only impact Dorn Creek and Marsh, but would also impact Six Mile Creek into which Dorn Creek flows. At that point, Six Mile Creek flows through Governor Nelson Park and is graded by WI-DNR as an exceptional water resource.

While runoff volume control through attenuation of runoff peaks, although only arguably achievable, would make a positive difference downstream from development in Dorn and Six Mile Creeks, Lake Mendota is a different matter. It suffers from persistently high water levels. In the recent eight-year period its lake levels were at an elevated height for 788 days or little over ¼ of the time (CARPC 11-13-09 p 13). Because of sluggishness of the Yahara River system in processing of flows, peak runoff rate control at Bishop’s Bay development would have no positive effect (CARPC 7-11-09 report p 13) on Lake Mendota levels. The added runoff volume from that area would be counted as another contribution to flooding.


High-density urban development such as proposed would have dual impact on groundwater levels. Massive withdrawals of groundwater in hundreds of thousands of gallons daily would be basically exported from the area via the sewage treatment facilities. The proposed stormwater management facilities, despite of CARPC staff’s claim of maintaining the most stringent of standards, would never be able to capture enough water to replace even a fraction of that volume. The Lathrop and Potter study (2004), based on data collected at nearby Pheasant Branch, indicates that by 2020, baseflow in that creek would drop by approximately 12% as a result of well activity. Wetlands would also be affected. Their water levels would drop by 7% regardless weather water withdrawals were made from deep or shallow aquifer.

Imperviousness associated with any kind of modern urban development has the same effect as pumping wells on groundwater levels. It rapidly transfers much of the precipitation it captures into streams, rivers and lakes and does not allow much to return back into the circulation in the local water cycle.  The Lathrop and Potter study found that when groundwater withdrawals are considered together with increased imperviousness from urban development, then the effect on groundwater was amplified. Pheasant Branch Creek lost 63% of its baseflow and Pheasant Branch marsh lost 22%.

Requirements of NR 121.05 (2) (i) and NR 121.01

NR 121.05 (2) (i), requiring that best management practices needed to produce a basic level of control of nonpoint source of pollutants throughout the planning area be identified and evaluated, was ignored. The public will never be able to see and comment on that part of Middleton-Westport management plan prior to the hearing and to any decision-making by the commission.

CARPC staff recommendations allow for many parts of the proposed amendment to be left opened, subject to future changes that would come only after the decision to recommend for approval had already been delivered. Such a skewed interpretation of the NR 121 review process makes mockery of the public participation mandate. In all such instances it would be the CARPC staff, and not the Commission who would be making decisions on many important aspects of the final water quality plan amendment.  Such process places CARPC staff in a role of decision-makers that the state statutes never intended them to have.

Stefi Harris and Arnold Harris

Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment

3427 County Rd P

Mt Horeb WI 53572

Fightin’ the Good Fight Out West(ern Dane Co., That Is!)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Here’s the latest from the good guys of the Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment….

From: “Stefi Harris” To: “Stefi Harris” Subject: letter to friends 7-25-09 Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 14:19:07 -0500 7-30-09 Dear Friends of the Environment Many thanks to all of you who testified at the public hearing and wrote letters to the Capital regional Planning Commission (CARPC) against the proposal by the Village of Mazomanie to expand their urban service area into a sensitive watershed area for purposes of creating yet more urban sprawl in a cornfield. We won at CARPC in a vote of 7 to 5. We should all be proud of our collective efforts. We think that having lost unprecedented two times at CARPC Mazomanie‚s proposal will also be rejected by DNR. However, we‚ll keep watching the situation just to make sure and let you know of further developments in this case. This time we are asking you to continue our common efforts and join in a fight against the request by the City of Verona to create development in a highly sensitive environmental corridor near Badger Mill Creek and the Sugar River. Both of these are coldwater streams with unique and rare aquatic and terrestrial habitats. The proposed development comprises 572 housing units, 12.6 acres of commercial development and 20.4 institutional development on 265 acres in two areas, located near the intersection of the US Highways 18-151 and State Highway 69. Specifically, the proposed development threatens the two streams with further reduction of already low base flow, increased runoff, erosion, sedimentation and pollution, as well as with increased water temperatures. These threats extend also to the area‚s riparian wetlands alongside of both creeks and to the spring fed wetland in State Natural Area adjacent to the western portion of the proposed urban service area (USA). There are at least four springs in and immediately adjacent to the affected area. If the City of Verona is allowed to spill and sprawl over its current boundary in a direction of Badger Mill Creek and the Sugar River these springs will dry up in the foreseeable future. The proposed Verona USA is a home to several threatened and endangered species. They are Acadian Flycatcher bird, Mulberry Wing butterfly, Lady Slipper orchid and the entire communities of calcareous fen and sedge meadow wetland types. At present the amendment area is sparsely populated. It includes agricultural fields, isolated patches of woods, wooded slopes, a few houses and the streams which flow through. In the past this area, because of its richness and diversity of plant and animal life, was a place where through centuries Native Americans lived, camped, hunted, fished and were buried. There are ten documented archaeological sites in and directly adjacent to the proposed USA. Four of those are mound sites. Since we have the knowledge of these sites only through literature search and not through an actual field survey, the number of the archeological sites in the same area might be even greater than ten. The City of Verona promises a limited protection to water quality, threatened and endangered species and archaeological sites. But its promises do not match its plan for mitigation of detrimental effects of its proposed development. You can read more about Verona‚s proposal on CARPC website under „Upcoming Public Hearings‰ (google „CARPC DANE‰ to find it). NR 121 relating to areawide water quality management plans contains a provision for areas such as the one between the Sugar River and Badger Mill Creek to be saved from destruction through massive development as the one proposed by the City of Verona. This is what it says: „Major areas unsuitable for the installation of waste treatment systems because of physical or environmental constraints are to be excluded from the service area. Areas to be considered for exclusion from the sewer service area because of potential for adverse impacts on the quality of the waters of the state from both point and nonpoint sources of pollution include but are not limited to wetlands, shorelands, floodways and floodplains, steep slopes, highly erodible soils and other limiting soil types, groundwater recharge areas, and other such physical constraints‰ (NR 121.05 (4)(c). And that is what we should insist on because the amendment area contains all those conditions. Please e-mail to CARPC that you oppose the City of Verona USA amendment request and send copies to individuals listed below. Also please, come to the public hearing on August 13 held by CARPC at City County Building downtown Madison at 7:00 PM in Rm 201. Stefi Harris, Dennis Franke and Arnold Harris Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment 608-798-4833; 608-798-4835 3427 County Rd P Mt Horeb WI 53572 It is important that you send your e-mail letters to CARPC with copies to all of the following: CARPC Dane County Executive Mayor of Madison Dane County Towns Association Gerry H Derr Renee Lauber Mark Hazelbaker