Posts Tagged ‘Stefi Harris’

CARPC Comes Through for Clean Water

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Capitol Area Regional Plan Commission really came through for clean water in Dane County. (See message below from Stefi Harris.)

Many thanks to Western Dane County Coalition for Smart Growth & Environment and CRANES for all of their advocacy & research on this. And it even looks like Falk even kind of stuck her neck out on the issue!


Last Thursday 5-13-10 in a vote of 6 to 6, with one abstention, CARPC denied the City of Verona urban service request for 265 acres near the Sugar River and Badger Mill Creek, southwest of the city. Verona intended to eventually develop over 1500 acres in that area. Verona’s case has a long history. It asked the old Regional Planning Commission about six years ago for an urban sewer extension. Verona was told then that it would be problematic because of the sensitivity of the area to any kind of development. They were advised to get a study of environmental resources and impact of development on those resources for the entire 1700 acres north/northeast of the confluence of the Sugar River and Badger Mill completed before they apply again. That study was completed sometime in early 2009. It was done by Montgomery Associates. Verona paid them $90,000 for the work. I read it and actually studied it. In many places the authors minimize the value and importance of natural resources. They only talk about how environmental impacts can be mitigated by stormwater control structures. They do not discuss what could be done in case of failure of such structures.  They also refuse to discuss impacts of municipal groundwater withdrawals on streams and wetlands as well as the impacts of development on coldwater aquatic communities such as live in the Sugar river and Badger Mill Creek.
Kathleen Falk and her assistant Topf Wells came to talk to the Commission on Thursday. ( A copy of her speech to CARPC is below.)
The deliberations lasted three hours. CRANES and ourselves worked on Verona, on and off, for about 10 months from our two ends. On the way in we knew we had four sure votes. We needed six to prevail. But that was the best we could do.  It was sheer suspense from the beginning to the end. We just got lucky. We could have very easily  lost if deliberations took a slightly different course. But that is another story.
I thought you might be interested.
All the best.
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2010 9:20 AM
Subject: Memo below


The County Executive presented the testimony below to the CARPC Commission last night.

DATE:   May 13, 2010

TO:             Members, CARPC Commission

FROM:   Kathleen M. Falk
Dane County Executive

RE:             Verona USA Expansion Request
I respectfully ask that you vote to deny or substantially modify Verona’s request for an Urban Service Area expansion in the Upper Sugar and Badger Mill Creek corridors and watershed.

CARPC’s first and foremost responsibility is to protect water quality.  The more valuable, rare, and precious the resource, the higher degree of protection – that’s a common sense principle that just about everyone can agree to and CARPC should follow.

Other points of agreement are also, I think, clear.  The Upper Sugar River and Badger Mill Creek are valuable, rare, and precious resources.  Badger Mill Creek is a productive trout stream (and yes, I have fished it and even caught trout there) with wild and stocked populations of brown trout, located within a few minutes of rapidly growing neighborhoods in a major metropolitan area.  It also has great opportunities for further restoration and public use.  Public and private resources, lots of time and lots of money, have been devoted to Badger Mill Creek, (for example, dozens of volunteers from the Dane County Conservation League and Trout Unlimited, the extraordinary aeration system installed by MMSD, the inclusion of much of this area in the County’s Parks & Open Spaces Plan).  All of this has produced results.  As my staff reminded your staff, the latest information on Badger Mill that arrived in our offices in the last two weeks show that the trout population is now at a 15 year high.

In the extensive questioning concerning this request that occurred at the last meeting, it also became clear that we cannot be reasonably sure that the recommended conditions will adequately protect these resources.  I also believe this is one of only two USA expansions of all the many you have reviewed for which CARPC staff has not recommended approval.

The course CARPC should follow if it is to remain true to its mission is to deny this USA request or to reduce it in size so that it poses less of a threat to these resources.  As an example of the latter, CARPC could approve a much smaller USA in order to accommodate the Dean Clinic facility, which is in the area furthest from some of the most valuable resources. Either denial or partial denial would be the careful, cautious, conservative, conservation-oriented course these resources deserve from you.

You are a water quality planning and protection agency.  You should and must be champions of valuable water resources.  Approving this USA expansion will be a fatal mistake for CARPC.  In a very candid exchange with the Chair, whose hard work and good intentions I acknowledge and respect, he made it clear that he thought CARPC rejection of this request would cause the City of Verona to reject the FUDA process.  He, and I think in this discussion he represents the views of some other Commissioners, believes FUDA to be an absolutely voluntary process; that communities can wholly decide whether to participate or not.  Both beliefs are, however well intentioned, wrong and will make it impossible for CARPC to function.  With the precedent of this decision, should you grant this USA, any and every community will demand approval of USA expansions as a condition of participating in FUDA. What then is the point of FUDA?  Secondly, every community that formally voted to create CARPC knows that, by the charter approved by them and the Governor, FUDA is the process by which CARPC will pursue its water quality planning responsibilities and that those FUDA’s will form the basis of future USA recommendations.  That is why, by the way, there are eleven “shall’s” used in the charter’s description of CARPC and communities’ participation in FUDA.  Participation in FUDA’s can and should be a prerequisite, not a reward, for approval of USA requests.

No one else in this County but me has taxed citizens to preserve the RPC staff when that agency was destroyed and to then create the CARPC you are today a part of.  Specifically, I have levied almost $4 million in property taxes since 2004 for those purposes.  I did so willingly, publicly, and enthusiastically because I believed this agency and the FUDA process could be the means by which the protection of key natural resources and urban development could mutually proceed via a fair, well informed, and public process.  I have come to question my belief as I have witnessed CARPC approval of thousands of acres of new development approved in 27 USA’s with no discernable progress on FUDA.

CARPC has moved too far from its clearly stated mission.  The FUDA requirements and schedules are clearly stated in the charter document that was reviewed and approved by almost every Dane County municipal government.  That document laid out the priority area and committed CARPC to

    • “provide the [environmental] information described in Item a. to areas with the highest environmental sensitivity and growth pressure within three years of the date the CARPC commences operations.  g.  Communities shall submit their proposed Future Urban Development Area within 24 months of the date they receive the data from CARPC.  If a community does not meet this timeline, the CARPC shall not act on any individual USA expansion requests until the proposed plan is submitted.  CARPC may grant one six-month extension to this timeline.”  (ll. 170-179 of the charter)  (emphasis added)

CARPC is now in its fourth year of existence, with no FUDA’s created.

Approval of this USA will, in my judgment, ruin any prospect of FUDA succeeding.  At that point, County taxpayers are wasting their money ($700,000 a year on CARPC) on functions that can be handled by the DNR.  I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support CARPC if you make that unfortunate decision.

You have before you a rare, important, and difficult intersection of several issues joined in this USA decision:  the protection of some valuable public resources and the continuation of what could be a key planning process for our orderly, sustainable growth.  To have both, please vote to deny or modify this USA expansion.

Dane County Towns Ass’n: Adjust Your Attitude!

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Brought to you by Dane County Towns Association

Having a poli-sci BA and an MS in geography means that I geek out over good land use policy analysis (in case you hadn’t clued into that already!).

Below is one of the best analyses I’ve ever seen with regard to Dane County’s rural land use policies. Stefi & Arnold Harris of the Western Dane County Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment are truly fighting the good fight out there.


to: Dane County town boards
from: Stefi Harris, Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment
re: DCTA ineffectiveness protecting town lands from annexation

As a rural resident of the Town of Cross Plains in western Dane County for 34 years, I have witnessed the increasing disappearance of farmlands and other open spaces of the towns in our county as they have been incrementally swept into the encroaching black holes of annexation by their neighboring cities and villages. All these annexations have been for development largely denied to the towns by countywide comprehensive planning. Mostly of them were instigated and conducted not because they made any sense from the planning point of view but to feed a class of land speculators and developers who buy up these town lands at farmland prices in order to enrich themselves with high-priced lots for urban sprawl.

Presently, there is only one venue in Dane County where towns might hope to affect the outcomes of city/village grabs of their lands and tax bases. That venue is CARPC, the appointed body to which all Dane County cities and villages must come in order to get recommendations to the WI-DNR for approval of their sewer service area extensions. Without those recommendations they can do only limited development on annexed town lands.

The main culprits in this destructive development are the cities, villages, land speculators and developers. However having monitored actions of the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) since mid 2008, I now understand that the Dane County Towns Association (DCTA), either through willfulness or bad judgment, is equally responsible for enabling CARPC to act as little more than a well-oiled machine for converting town farmlands and other open spaces to urban sprawl after these lands have been annexed by the cities and villages. And here it is how that happens.

CARPC has 13 members, appointed as follows:
— Dane County Towns Association (DCTA), three members;
— Dane County Executive, three members;
— City of Madison, four members;
— Dane County Cities and Villages Association (DCCVA), three members.

CARPC’s rules require a majority vote of eight of the 13 members to pass a positive recommendation for an urban service area (USA) extension on to WI-DNR. The pro-development forces have overcome that hurdle by organizing a CARPC voting bloc which includes all three DCCVA appointees, at least three of the four Madison appointees, and at least one of the three DCTA appointees, but frequently all three.

DCTA and its appointees, all of whom have been elected Dane County town officials, have a unique opportunity to counter the cities/villages bloc and discourage future unjust annexations of towns’ lands by making them through its CARPC actions unprofitable for developers. In order to accomplish this, they would have to form a voting bloc with the appointees of the Dane County Executive and with one vote that usually comes with Madison appointees.

However, DCTA historically and presently, almost always wastes its limited political capital opposing the County Board of Supervisors and the Dane County Executive in any and all land use controls. Mostly, this is an extension of the political orientation of the DCTA leadership. They act as though it were the Dane County government rather than the cities and villages that has been annexing their lands and exercising frequently unfair extra-territorial jurisdiction against their membership – the Dane County towns – rather than the cities and villages with whom their CARPC appointees typically walk in political lockstep.

From Mar 27, 2008 to the present, CARPC has reviewed as many as 20 service area extension requests. Some of these represented limited service areas (LSAs) of minor acreage. Others are cases in which there were specific agreements between a town and a neighboring city or village, such as the recent City of Middleton-Town of Westport CUSA review and approval by CARPC. And there was a single case where CARPC actually turned down a request by the Village of Mazomanie to extend the sewer lines on lands taken from the Town of Mazomanie without as much as a courtesy call.

But over 2/3 of the land area awarded to urban expansion during the same period or over 2070.7 acres, involved cases where CARPC approval was given even though towns had no say in annexations preceding these approvals. In each such occurrence, CARPC more or less rubber-stamped the municipal proposals. In all these cases, DCTA’s appointees mostly joined forces with the DCCVA and City of Madison appointees in a solid voting bloc.

The rubber-stamp approvals of the Madison, DCCVA and DCTA appointees are further reinforced by CARPC staff, led by an environmental engineer who routinely uses his position to lead board discussions to favor approvals of the urban service area requests, despite numerous clear violations of the Wisconsin NR 121 regulations dealing with water quality issues, and even has been seen to interrupt commissioner discussions in order to sway one or more dissident commission members to vote approval of his favored projects. WDC/SGE has researched and brought to the attention of CARPC, its staff and its commissioners technical information about many water quality-related proposal violations, to which little attention has been paid.

Moreover, CARPC rules allow broad opportunities for the applicant cities and villages, and along with them, their pet land speculators and developers, to testify at length, including use of extensive PowerPoint presentations. In contrast, opponents of these developments are permitted only three minutes per person to speak, with no such presentations. So each such meeting and all CARPC deliberative procedures, operate like a carefully coordinated card game in which the deck is stacked against the interests of the towns themselves, smart growth planning of Dane County, and Wisconsin’s environmental protection legislation.

A typical example of CARPC decision-making was at the March 11, 2010 CARPC meeting, concerning the City of Fitchburg Central Urban Service Area (CUSA) amendment request for 397.7 acres. At that meeting, DCTA appointee Ed Minihan, who is also chairman of the Town of Dunn, raised the objection to Fitchburg’s request based on two significant unanswered concern that directly affect his town. Those concerns involved unresolved issues over increased flooding in the Town of Dunn and degradation of South Waubesa Marsh, both due to the City of Fitchburg proposed urban service extension. This marsh is known as both a unique and an outstanding wetland area. Increased resale property values in the Town of Dunn can be in part credited to the proximity of pristine South Waubesa Marsh natural area. The town has also submitted its letter of objection over Fitchburg’s proposal to CARPC. Commissioner Minihan argued his objections clearly and concisely during Thursday’s CARPC deliberation. But what followed might surprise you. His two fellow DCTA appointees, commissioners Phillip Van Kampen and Susan Studz, ignored his comments, sided with the cities and villages, and voted against the Town of Dunn’s objection. Their votes were particularly hard to swallow because these two members never responded to Minihan’s objections and provided no coherent water quality or other reasons for going against the Town of Dunn. They gave him no backing whatsoever, despite that they were appointed to CARPC to represent the interests of Dane County towns.

Mr Van Kampen has been on CARPC for a long time and has had a fair track record until he was appointed chairman of CARPC at the March 11, 2010 meeting, replacing Jeff Miller, a DCCVA appointee. One must assume the cities and villages bloc of commissioners supported him as chairman because they assumed he would continue their status quo of the obvious CARPC bias in favor of awarding urban service area extensions at the expense of the towns from which the lands for these extensions have been grabbed.

Susan Studz is new to CARPC. She was recently appointed by DCTA to take the place of the late Harold Krantz, a town leader of great experience. To Krantz, by contrast, the interests of the towns always came first in any CARPC discussion or vote. He frequently voted against city/village proposals where town interests were not served.

If this type of mindless action of some of the DCTA appointees on CARPC continues, many of us who live in towns of this county fear what will happen to our towns when the land tracts that have been recently ripped out of their territories inevitably come to CARPC review.

Here, along the northern boundary of the Town of Cross Plains, the Village of Cross Plains in early 2009 annexed a large chunk of town’s territory through gerrymandering. It did that with no prior discussion with the town. The land in question is a recharge area for Garfoot Creek, a high quality trout stream, classified as an exceptional water resource. The village wants to convert this area into a dense suburban neighborhood. This process would inevitably degrade Garfoot Creek from the exceptional water resource with living, breeding trout, into an impaired waterway that could barely support a forage fishery. The town wanted to keep that area as farmland with low-density residential development under its 1 split per 35-acre rule. The town wanted to continue protecting the creek, because a healthy stream with quality fish is an attractant. Among other things it increases property values in an area where it flows.

Many of us in the town familiar with this recent hostile action of the DCTA appointees to CARPC, Van Kampen and Studz against the Town of Dunn are worried that if the case involving former Town of Cross Plains territory would come in front of CARPC now, that there would be no stopping of the Village of Cross Plains sewer service request and creek degradation and destruction. Furthermore, awarding the Village of Cross Plains a sewer extension through CARPC would only encourage the village to further encroach and take land from our town.

If DCTA or its CARPC commissioners ignore towns’ objections and are unwilling to lead by example and vote down cities and villages urban service area amendment requests whenever necessary, then how is anyone else on CARPC expected to help the towns? What is the sense of any town in Dane County using their taxpayer’s money to pay dues to DCTA if that organization is not sensitive to the overriding interests of their own members?

One of the unique sets of data that WDC/SGE has assembled are written surveys completed by residents of more than a dozen Dane County towns as part of their comprehensive planning projects during recent years. Notably, more than two-thirds of all rural residents surveyed clearly indicated that they want to keep the town lands rural and that they want to strongly limit development on the town farmlands and open spaces. This data directly contradicts the political assumptions of some who imagine that rural residents would support urban development all around the county, typically as enrichment schemes by a very small number of individuals. On issues such as these the majority of Dane County town residents is more in tune with the statewide Wisconsin Towns Association, who strongly favor smart growth planning and protection of town lands from unwanted development. The time has come for attitudinal adjustment of DCTA leadership. DCTA leadership should be made accountable for any hostile action by its CARPC appointees against towns whose cases come in front of that body.

Stefi Harris
Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment
3427 County Rd P
Mt Horeb WI 53572

Imagine.....There used to be a farm here.

Victory for Black Earth Creek!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Black Earth Creek, an example of a restored trout stream par excellence, has been spared a massive assault. Western Dane County will stay a little more rural for a bit longer. Bicyclists, nature lovers, fisherman — indeed anyone who breathes — should be thankful to a hard working group of people who made this happen.

Stefi Harris and the Western Dane County Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment are to be commended for a fight well fought…and won!

Capital Area Regional Planning Commission members: Thank you. Thank you for your good judgment, and backbone.

Way to go gang!

Here’s the word from the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (apologies for losing the letter’s original formatting):

101 S. Webster St.

Box 7921

Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7921

Telephone 608-266-2621

FAX 608-267-3579

TTY Access via relay – 711

Jim Doyle, Governor

Matthew J. Frank, Secretary

November 23, 2009

Carl A. Sinderbrand

Axley Brynelson, LLP

P.O. Box 1767

Madison, WI 53703

Subject: Village of Mazomanie Request Regarding Amendment to Dane County Water Quality Plan

Dear Mr. Sinderbrand:

Your letter to Thomas Gilbert, Bureau of Watershed Management, dated August 21, 2009, has been referred to me. That letter, submitted on behalf of the Village of Mazomanie (Village), requests the Department of Natural Resources (Department) to review the June 11, 2009, decision of the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) to not approve an amendment to the Dane County areawide water quality management plan (plan). The Department declines to reconsider that decision.

There is no statutory or administrative rule procedure that directs the Department to review regional planning agency decisions to deny amendments to areawide water quality management plans. Section NR 121.07, Wis. Admin. Code, establishes the procedures for approval of plans and plan amendments for designated areas of the state (such as Dane County). Section NR 121.07(1) (a), Wis. Admin. Code, provides that the Department shall review and approve or disapprove each plan for designated areas. Section NR 121.07(3), Wis. Admin. Code, provides that the Department may approve a planning agency’s amendments to a plan for a designated area. There is no provision in s. NR 121.07, however, that directs the Department to review and approve or disapprove a planning agency’s decision to deny a proposed amendment to a plan for a designated area.

In addition to this lack of procedural direction, there is a significant practical reason for the Department not to reconsider denials of amendments in designated areas. Dane County is a designated area for areawide water quality management planning, under s. NR 121.06, Wis. Admin. Code. The Department contracts with CARPC to conduct water quality management planning work in Dane County. In my March 18, 2009 letter to Jeffrey Miller, chair of CARPC, I made it clear that,

“We strongly believe that CARPC plays a necessary and critical role in shaping the future of Dane County. We are relying on CARPC to provide land use and water quality resource information and analysis, and a strong direction for local planning efforts.”

Further, I went on to state that,

“In reconsidering the Mazomanie amendment request, the Commission should focus on water quality impacts as the primary basis for a decision, and should consider the guidance and direction in this letter.”

CARPC has taken the focus suggested in our letter and the Department defers to their judgement in this case. As stated, the Department has procedures to review plans and approved amendments to plans and does review those decisions by planning agencies for designated areas. By approving or disapproving plans and plan amendments previously approved by regional planning agencies, and by re-evaluating the approval status of plans at least every 5 years, the Department fulfills its responsibility to protect, maintain and improve the quality and management of the waters of the state in designated areas. Since denials of amendments to plans in designated areas do nothing to change plans previously approved by the Department, they would result in no change to water quality, such that the Department has little or no reason to reconsider them. In fact, to do so would take resources away from other priority work of the Department at a time when those resources are in very short supply.

The Department has not historically been involved in reviewing denials of amendments to plans, unless the planning agency has failed to provide a water quality basis for the denial. If CARPC or another regional planning agency denies an amendment without stating a clear water quality basis for its denial, the Department has requested that the regional planning agency reconsider its decision. The Department did so in this case, by letter to CARPC, dated March 18, 2009. Specifically, I noted,

“Pursuant to state statutes and administrative codes (chapter NR 121), decisions regarding amendments must be based on water quality impacts and the cost-effectiveness of sewerage systems.”

However, once the regional planning agency states a water quality basis for not approving an amendment to a plan (as CARPC has done in this case), as long as the decision is consistent with the approved plan and was done in accordance with approved planning procedures, including a sufficient public participation process, the Department will not reconsider that decision, for the reasons stated in this letter.

The Department encourages the Village to work with CARPC to address the water quality concerns raised by CARPC when it decided not to accept the proposed amendment to the plan.


Todd Ambs, Administrator

Division of Water


Jeffrey Miller, Chair, CARPC

Kamran Mesbah, Deputy Director, CARPC

Scott Stokes, President; Village of Mazomanie

Sue Dietzen, Clerk; Village of Mazomanie

Ron Adler, Chair; Town of Mazomanie

Maria Van Cleve, Clerk; Town of Mazomanie

John St. Peter, Edgarton, St. Peter, Petak & Rosenfeldt

Timothy Fenner, Axley Brynelson

Andy Morton – WDNR – SCR

Tom Gilbert – WDNR – WT/3

Robin Nyffeler- LS/8

Judy Ohm-LS/8

Update: Robbie Webber informs me that there is another group which needs to be thanked for their hard work:

Just an FYI that there is another group working very hard on the CARPC
issues, and they worked extra hard on the Mazo decision, in
cooperation with Arnold and Steffi Harris.

Capital Region Advocacy Network for Environmental Sustainability
(CRANES) has been meeting twice a month for over a year – more or less
since the new RPC was formed – to build a network/alliance of
environmental groups and individuals that are willing to speak up to
preserve the environment in Dane County (and beyond, but we are
working on Dane County first.) Many of the names will be familiar to

Here’s a blog from Brenda back in March about our efforts to fight the
Mazo plan. It includes a letter that was sent out by the group urging
people to show up at the original CARPC hearing.

Indeed! Many thanks for all that great work!

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

Paving Lake Mendota

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Yesterday, I received this alert from the Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Development. This paving & shingling over of the Lake Mendota watershed is dumb growth at its worst. And they need your help on the 11th. If you care about the quality of our lakes, read on…

Hello Friends

I know how busy all of you are with your own lives and also working for so many worthy causes. Although I am reluctant to do so, I feel compelled to ask you to add one more thing to your “to do” list.

Here it is in brief. The City of Middleton and the Town of Westport want to develop 910 acres south of Dorn Creek, between County Roads M and Q in the area better know as Bishop’s Bay. They want to build housing for some 6,000 people, a strip mall, offices, a church, plus recreational facilities (Probably tennis courts and such, since there is already a golf course next door). Most of what is proposed is not justified by the projected population growth for that area. And what is justified could be accomodated as infill development inside the city, especially since there are quite a few vacant large lots left in Middleton.

From the environmetal perspective a lot is at stake here. If this developoment is allowed, water levels in Dorn Creek and ajacent Dorn Creek Marsh Fishery would decline permanently. Invasive aquatic and terrestrial species would begin to flourish while native species would decline. That area of Dorn Creek is home to the blanding turtle, one of the poster children of Threatened species in Wisconsin. Scientific studies confirm that in intensively developed areas, such as the one proposed here, floods caused by runoff cannot always be controlled. Ultimetly the proposed development would have negative effect on natural areas in Governor State Park and on water levels in Lake Mendota.

As if all this is not not enough trouble, there is more. The proposed development needs another large municipal well. Addition of such wells in the northwestern quadrant around Lake Mendota mean that water levels in all local streams and wetlands will drop. Eventually they might dry up for most months of a year, except when it is raining. Imagine what happens to aquatic plants and animals under such conditions.

I ask you not to remain silent on this.

This development is a good example of dumb growth. Most of the people who would move here would end up driving to work in Madison and would make already rush-hour congested County Road M a transportational nightmare. It would not be too long before cries for an alternative to “M” would start. And there go taxpayer dollars, wasted gas, carbon emissions and farmland loss! All because good people stood back and let the developer take charge of the public planning.

I ask you not stand back and let this one pass this time. Here, together we can make a difference.

Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) is holding a public hearing on this proposal. All of you who can, please, come to this hearing. It is really a big deal. A lot is at stake here. We are more likely to be listened to if a large group of us shows up. But if you cannot come send them an e-mail telling them that the proposed development is not a good idea for the area. Here is their e-mail address

The CARPC hearing will be held on coming Thursday, November 12th at 7:00 PM in City-County Building, Room 315.

If you need any more information about what I wrote let me know.

Stefi Harris

And below is the official comment of Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Development to the Capital Area Regional Plan Commission — a masterwork of research!


To: Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC)

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

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

Urban Service (CUSA) amendment

We ask that CARPC turn down the CUSA request by the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport for 910 acres for 2990 housing units and 500,000 to 775,000 sq ft of commercial and institutional space in a corridor between County Highways Q and M, roughly south of Oncken Road, the general area also known as Bishops Bay.

The amendment area is located in the midst of some of the Dane County’s most vulnerable water and other natural resources. North and northwest is Dorn Creek Marsh State Fishery Area.  Directly south is a wetland area of Lost Lake. Southwest are Fredrick Springs, parkland featuring unique springs, streams, a marsh and a restored prairie. The western boundary of the proposed amendment area is less than ¼ mile from the demarcation line for the Fredrick Springs recharge area.  Northeast and directly east is Governor Nelson State Park. Most of these lands are in public ownership. An intensive development in the proposed amendment area with projected housing for 6,888 residents plus large commercial, recreational and institutional development would have a profound negative water quality effect reaching well beyond the proposed amendment area boundaries.

Wisconsin Department of Administration (WI DOA) projected population-household figures 2010-2030 for the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport do not justify such large addition of housing units. The same is true of the purported need for commercial space. Currently the City of Middleton is struggling with the issue of vacant commercial space in several areas, not the least of which is the Century Avenue/Allen Boulevard area. Adding commercial space on the outskirts of the city near Bishops Bay would draw business away from more centrally located commercial businesses. It is also unlikely that this is the only USA amendment request, which the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport would either conjointly or individually present to CARPC between now and 2030.

The proposed water quality plan amendment falls short of the NR 121 requirements pertaining to the plan amendment content and public participation. It should be rejected.


LACK OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF NR 121.05 (2)(b) and (i) and NR 121.01

Urban development lacking adequate water quality mitigation measures would cause a wide array of problems. Increased values for stormwater runoff volumes, rates and sediment levels due to introduction of impervious surfaces lead to flooding, hydrologic changes in receiving streams and wetlands, reduction in groundwater recharge and decrease in baseflows as well as to chemical contamination and ecological alteration of receiving waters (8-7-09 CARPC staff report on Verona USA amendment request).

NR 121.05 (2)(b)

The City of Middleton and the Town of Westport have not produced an assessment of existing and potential water quality problems within the effected planning area, including a general assessment of expected nonpoint sources of pollution contributing to the problem as required under NR 121.05 (2) (b). In that they have also not followed their own Joint Comprehensive Plan for Middleton-Westport (2009), which requires “environmental assessment for each proposed development” (III C.1.).

Instead, the applicants have provided two competing sets of water quality standards, one for the city and the other one for the town. CARPC staff indicates intention to choose for the applicants the more stringent of the standards from each set. However, even the best standards when standing alone, without an assessment of existing and potential water quality problems, do nothing to help decision-makers and members of the interested public understand if and how the eventual water quality management plan for the massive Bishop’s Bay development would protect water quality.

NR 121.05 (2)(i)

Similarly, NR 121.05 (2) (i) requires 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. The applicants have provided a map (Map 10) plus three terse paragraphs scattered in sections 6.8, 6.9 and 6.10 of the submitted material, merely listing the proposed best management practices. But these lack any evaluation. One is left to guess as to how useful these would be in application at the proposed amendment area.

NR 121.01

Furthermore, the applicants’ statement that “all the planning areas, including the stormwater management area, are approximate and subject to adjustment as a part of the local approval process” (page 5 of the submitted material) does nothing to dispel the notion that the best management practices listed in the application and shown on the map may or may not be eventually implemented and that at this point there is no real water quality plan for the requested amendment area. Instead what the public has been presented with and asked to comment on is a stand-in plan to be solely used for the purposes of obtaining the CARPC CUSA amendment recommendation and only to be replaced later with another, perhaps more locally convenient, actual water quality management plan. Thus the intent of 121.01 that the public participation is provided throughout plan development has been ignored.


Watersheds of the proposed amendment area

The proposed Bishop’s Bay development lies within six smaller watersheds of the much larger Lake Mendota watershed.  The two largest watersheds at Bishop’s Bay, comprising 835 acres, drain into Dorn Creek. 208 acres drain into 4.5-acre Lost Lake pond and 44 acres drain into an abandoned quarry. The abandoned quarry area formerly was a part of Pheasant Branch watershed until subsequent mining operations changed the drainage pattern and diverted it away from Pheasant Branch.  However 77 acres at Bishop’s Bay still remain in Pheasant Branch watershed. 276 acres drain directly into Lake Mendota via a culvert and a vegetated swale.

The lower reaches of the two closed watersheds of Lost Lake and the old abandoned quarry are vulnerable to flooding emanating from any development placed on higher grounds, but particularly to a large development such as the one proposed here.

Wetlands and perennial streams in the proposed amendment area

The area immediately to the north surrounding Dorn Creek is the Dorn Creek Marsh Fishery Area.  Currently, Dorn Creek retains much of its pre-settlement wetland acreages. It is estimated that 16% of the Dorn Creek watershed is in wetlands. A 2004-2006 study of sediment transport and deposition of Dorn Creek (Chin et al 2004) found that wetlands located near Dorn Creek, in addition to their other beneficial functions, were responsible for sequestering 40% of the incoming dissolved reactive phosphorous, a major problem in Lake Mendota and its sister lakes around Madison. Dorn Creek wetlands trapped re-suspended sediments during small runoff events but flushed them during larger events. In addition they attenuated peak flows, thus removing some of the destructive peak flow potential for causing channel erosion.

Wetland areas of the Dorn Creek Marsh Fishery Area extend into the most northerly segment of the proposed development. This segment as a part of the larger wetland lying within the amendment boundary had been delineated but not yet approved by WI-DNR. Inexplicably the submitted material (page 19) states that there are no wetlands noted on the DNR map for that area.

The amendment proposal calls for construction of community facilities on higher ground adjacent to the wetland. Such facilities in relatively close proximity to the wetland would play a role in diminishing its functionality.

Middleton-Westport’s submitted materials also mention a possible wetland at a culvert under Oncken Road that needs investigating.

Two perennial streams are located in the northeastern part of the proposed amendment area. In lower elevations they merge and flow northward under Oncken Road to eventually drain into Dorn Creek Marsh Fishery Area. Middleton/Westport submitted materials refer to these perennial streams as drainage ways. The submitted maps reveal a plan to turn these streams into stormwater conveyance channels where a part of the plan is to block their flow into the marsh area and flood lower elevations to create a combination stormwater retention and recreation facility. The North Mendota Parkway Environmental and Transportation Study describes this specific area as sensitive containing natural resources that Dane County would like to reserve for protection (LWRD Map, 1/9/09).

Some of the submitted site maps indicate in other parts of the amendment area, presence of additional, similar streams, also labeled as “drainage ditches”. The navigability determination should also be sought for them.

Permission for alteration of the course of any of the mapped perennial streams has not been issued by DNR. But if this CUSA would be recommended for approval and any of the proposed development would take place, the Dorn Creek Marsh Fishery Area would lose the badly needed cyclical water contribution from these perennial streams.

Although The City of Middleton Stormwater Runoff Control Plan advocates avoidance of “deterioration of wetland functional values” in general terms, the same plan allows in some cases release of pollutant-laden urban stormwater into a wetland without any pretreatment. The evaluation and impact of such proposed discharges and permitting activity is left to the discretionary assessment of the City Engineer.

It is reasonable to assume that the intent of NR 121 is not to contradict other water quality protective NR regulations and to allow for alteration of hydrology of natural wetland-feeder streams such as the two perennial streams from the proposed amendment area, which development plans mistakenly or intentionally labeled as drainage ditches.

Dorn Creek and Pheasant Branch Creek

The Lower Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, 2001 indicates that Dorn Creek flows through mostly rural terrain, which is 78% agricultural and 16% wetlands. It contributes about 7% of annual surface flow into Lake Mendota. Its baseflow is provided by a number of small springs. It is important to spawning of northern pike. It supports mainly tolerant warm water forage fishery. But two intolerant species –Northern Redbelly Dace and Pearl Dace are also present. Their preferred habitat is found in slow sluggish streams with cool water springs and seeps. These two species are on the endangered species lists of South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado.

The tributaries of North and South Fork contribute to Pheasant Branch Creek. The North Fork drainage area is predominantly agricultural, although it has been extensively channelized and straightened (current Dane County State of the Waters Report, 2008).

There is a strong hydraulic connection between North Fork and the Fredricks Springs      ( Steuer and Hunt 2001: 29). South Fork is described as “an intermittent stream resultant from runoff of highly urbanized environment encompassing areas of residential, commercial and light industrial use” (ibid: 4). This area contains numerous detention ponds, all results of past attempts to reduce peak stream stages and extent of flooded areas.

In 2001 Steuer and Hunt conducted a modeling study of the hydrologic effects of urbanization on North Fork Pheasant Branch Basin. They considered two scenarios; one for low density residential and low density commercial of 5% to 10% along the principal highways; and another where the entire North Fork and the neighboring area basin contained 50% commercial and 50% medium density residential development. Under low development conditions, mean annual streamflow increased by 53%, runoff by 84%, baseflow decreased by 15% and annual recharge to the groundwater decreased by 10%. Under conditions of full development, annual storm runoff increased by more than 450%; North Fork dried up; Fredricks Springs lost 26% of the flow. When detention basins were introduced into the low-density scenario it was found that some streamflow peaks were reduced but many remained higher than the current peaks.

In order to determine the effect of development on groundwater recharge rates and runoff volumes in 2004, Lathrop and Potter applied their own modified version of USGS PRMS model to same area of North Fork Branch that Steuer and Hunt had previously studied. The result of their modeling showed that infiltration practices could preserve groundwater recharge rates either in low or high-density conditions. However, they found that infiltration practices are only effective in reducing runoff volumes in moderate development conditions. In high density scenarios infiltration practices did not reduce runoff volumes (Lathrop and Potter, 2004: 8).

Lathrop and Potter’s finding relate to the proposed Bishop’s Bay development. If the development is allowed, it can be expected that it would preserve some of the groundwater recharge through infiltration. But in spite of the stringency of any applied standards or promises by municipalities and their sponsoring development partners, the runoff volumes will become a flooding hazard, especially if the perennial springs and Dorn Creek Marsh Fishery Area wetland are not allowed to be converted into stormwater sewers as proposed in CUSA request.

The Dane County Water Quality Plan, 2004 lists Pheasant Branch and Dorn Creeks as limited forage fisheries for the most part, except for the last segment before the entry into Lake Mendota, where they are classified as warm sport fisheries. The plan describes Dorn Creek, as a stream, which “has experienced moderate environmental degradation with significantly reduced biotic integrity”.  The plan gives it a rating of fair. The same plan rates water quality of Pheasant Branch Creek as poor because of severely reduced environmental conditions and biotic integrity.

Water quality ratings of the two creeks seem to correlate with the intensity of urbanization that has occurred along their banks. More urbanized Pheasant Branch Creek ranks lower in water quality than predominantly rural Dorn Creek where 16% of its wetlands are still in existence.

Lake Mendota watershed and Lower Rock River Basin

The Lake Mendota watershed is a part of Lower Rock river basin. According to Lower Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, 2001 and Dane County Water Quality Plan, 2004, Lake Mendota by the virtue of its location at the top of the chain of four major lakes and near the center of an urbanized area, has been experiencing water quality problems emanating from both agricultural and urban sources. In turn it is contributing to the same problems in the Yahara River and its three other downstream lakes.

According to the 7/11/06 CARPC staff report on the City of Middleton CUSA amendment request on behalf of Misty Valley Development, “The Yahara River system “is sluggish and has several bottlenecks. Storm surges flow through the system in a period of weeks, resulting in flooding during wet years or when storms occur from back to back.  Lake Mendota has been used to store runoff from the Upper Yahara watershed (including Pheasant Branch Creek) helping protect low lying areas around the lower lakes. Because of sluggishness of the system even when new urban areas control post-development runoff peaks at predevelopment levels through retention/detention basins, the typical 24- to 36-hour attenuation of the peaks does little to mitigate downstream flooding potential” (page 13).

Dorn Creek contributes 7% of annual surface flow into Lake Mendota (Chin et al).

Adding 2950 housing units for 6,888 residents, large commercial, institutional and recreational facilities on 910 acres of the amendment area where the environmental corridors have been stripped of their respective natural hydrologic networks and vegetation, to make room for runoff holding facilities, would lead to a chain of disastrous water quality consequences:

Increased runoff volumes and sediment loads would fill and ultimately destroy the Dorn Creek Marsh Fishery Area wetland. The next to go would be groundwater recharge into the northwestern corner of Lake Mendota, due to increased pumping, along with the current 7% contribution of annual surface flow. But since even intensive infiltration practices cannot control runoff volumes for high density development (Lathrop and Potter 2004:7) and because of the sluggish nature of the Yahara river system — where even the state-of-art retention/detention basins set to 24- to 36-hour attenuation peaks and the high standards of pre-settlement conditions can do little to mitigate downstream flooding potential (CARPC staff report 7-11-06) — adding such massive high density development as the one proposed by Middleton-Westport would only heighten flooding threat and its associated human, social, financial and ecological costs.


Middleton-Westport concerns about groundwater mainly center on technical aspects of water procurement needed for the proposed population increase, rather than on the effects of increased pumping on the area streams and wetlands. The development proposal for Bishop’s Bay estimates that the city would need an additional 393,355 gallons per day (gpd) of fresh water and that the town would need 54,900 gpd. Middleton is scheduled to have its new well number 8 completed by next spring. Westport would either purchase the needed water from Middleton or it would open a new well. Surprisingly both the city and the town expect sewage productions to exceed water usage. Middleton estimates it would generate 457,080 gpd of sewage, Westport 74,660.

Dorn Creek contribution of 7% of annual surface flow into Lake Mendota is significant, especially because all four Madison Lakes are currently losing water to groundwater due to the pumping conditions. Madison area lakes used to receive groundwater in pre-settlement times. The northwestern side of Lake Mendota is the only area in the four lakes where the pre-settlement pattern of groundwater discharging into a lake still persists. And that is only because the area is still only moderately developed (Hunt et al 2001). The proposed amendment tract is a part of that same area.

According to Bradbury et al (1999), groundwater is the sole water supply for the county. Dane County’s groundwater ranges in age from less than five years to over 3,000 years. It is being pumped out at the rate of 51 million gallons per day. Most of that water is not recycled through the natural hydrologic system near where it originated, but is sent out of the watershed via sewage treatment plants.

Groundwater moves downward from the surface along much of the shore of Lake Mendota.  It had been estimated (ibid)  that as much as 25% of the groundwater drawn by municipal wells located near the Yahara lakes, including Mendota, is of that origin.

From 2000 to 2004, a groundwater study was conducted in the North Fork of the Pheasant Branch Creek (Lathrop and Potter 2004).  It was discovered that water pumping causes frequent cycling of water levels in the lower regional aquifer, and that the levels in the upper aquifer remain relatively steady under pumping conditions but that they do respond to precipitation. According to the applied groundwater model, the projected water demand for the year 2020 would result in up to 12% reduction in the baseflow of Pheasant Branch Creek. Wetlands would undergo 7% reduction in groundwater recharge regardless which aquifer was pumped.

The study also found that, when imperviousness of land cover was considered together with groundwater data, then under urban development conditions, baseflow in Pheasant Branch and at Pheasant Branch Marsh decreased by up to 63% and by 22 % respectively.

The proposed amendment area is partly in the Pheasant Branch Creek watershed, nearest to North Fork of Pheasant Branch, where data for Lathrop and Hunt’s study were collected. The warning of drastically decreased baseflow along Pheasant Branch and Pheasant Branch Marsh under increased development should be taken seriously also for Dorn Creek and the associated wetland.


Farms and Prairie

The Middleton-Westport CUSA amendment request is short on the implementation details of the standards proposed for water quality management. Other than a map and a list of best management practices for control of runoff and groundwater recharge, there is no other explanation on that topic.

The concept plan of the Bishop’s Bay proposed development includes two unconventional neighborhoods. One of these is where residential units are interspersed with 50 acres of “farms”; and the other where 110 single-family houses are placed in clusters in the midst of planted prairie of unknown size.

Prairie and farms, depending on the crops planted and farming practices, could be helpful for infiltration. However, these two neighborhoods are only a small fraction of the total development. This particular land use goes only a very small step to offset effects of intense imperviousness that would be introduced with development. Likewise 50 acres of farms could hardly substitute for the loss of 910 farmland acres, with 47% of soils classified as prime for agricultural use.

Some prospective future residents of the “Farm Neighborhood” might think of the braying of animals and odor of fresh manure close to their windows as disruptive. The pledge made to neighborhood association to till the community field might prove to be burdensome to suburbanites coming home after a long day at their offices. As with many other aspects of this CUSA request, “farms” at Bishop’s Bay are also subject to post-approval revision.

Prairies are esthetically pleasing as well as ecologically useful.  But they must be burned every three to five years to keep out trees and invasive species. The proposed 110 houses in the midst of a would-be prairie represent a mutual threat. Eventually one has to make a room for the other.

Infiltration in cold weather months

The Bishop’s Bay CUSA application suggests that Middleton and Westport would pursue their own separate standards for infiltration. Even if unified and maximal, CARPC-imposed standard for infiltration would be accepted here, it is not clear if and how such standard would be met.

A study by Steuer and Hunt (2001:29) at Pheasant Branch uncovered data showing that much of the summer precipitation is lost to evaporation and transpiration by plants and that much of the annual recharge occurs during the winter and spring when the snow is melting.

At the Bishop’s Bay proposed development, the natural annual infiltration cycle would be shifted to engineered facilities that under cold weather conditions often do not perform as intended. A report by Caracao and Clayton (1997:1.3.6), based on a country-wide survey of over 100 stormwater experts, indicates that the stormwater control facilities, which rely on infiltration for proper functioning are ineffective when the soil is frozen. In addition, large volumes of water occur with snowmelt. That is the time when many impediments, such as frozen ground for infiltration basins or frozen permanent pools and clogged outlets for pond systems, may be in their worst condition, all of which results in loss of effectiveness of these facilities (ibid 1.3.9).


Middleton-Westport is asking for a CUSA of an extraordinarily large tract of 910 acres.

The historical record of CUSA granted land extensions does not justify this request.

The record of CUSA-granted land extensions reveals that this request dwarfs most others (Table 18, page A-10 of Regional Trends, 2008 issued by CARPC). In the 22-year period of 1986 to 2008 when the countywide population grew by 28% and the City of Middleton and the Town of Westport grew their populations by 30% and 33% respectively, only 13,092 acres were added to the entire CUSA. (Comparable USA added acreage for the same period for the county was 13,526 acres). Yearly average for CUSA additions for the entire county (not just one municipality) was 595.1 acres.

Nor do projected population growth figures for the CUSA support Middleton-Westport’s exaggerated claim of need for housing. CUSA population in the county is on a declining trend. In the period between 1970 and 2000 it went from 73% to 63% of the total. CAPD data predict that the CUSA population will be only 58% of the total for the county by 2030.

The Middleton-Westport CUSA amendment proposes to build 2950 new residential units at a time when DOA figures indicate only 2,264 new households for that area in the coarse of the next 20 years (Middleton-Westport submitted materials, page 40).

There is no guarantee that this CUSA amendment request is the only request for urban service expansion, which Westport and Middleton conjointly or separately will be making to CARPC before 2030.

Middleton-Westport’s attempt to justify their proposed oversupply of housing units relative to expected new households under a guise of wider CUSA umbrella — which includes West Madison, Village of Waunakee and Towns of Springfield and Middleton — serves no other function but to confuse the issue. All those municipalities will pursue their own projected growth needs. Allowing unjustifiably large urban expansion to Middleton-Westport will only tempt Madison and Waunakee to ask for the same.

There are currently 195 vacant residential lots in the city, all located in three new subdivisions opened for construction in 2007. The city has not revealed data for vacant commercial lots. Neither has is revealed data for un-platted vacant residential land within the current CUSA.  Judging from “Land available for development” signs placed at many Middleton locations the current urban service area still contains room for growth.


The requested CUSA amendment should be denied for recommendation to WI-DNR because of the following reasons:

—- It would have negative impact on both local and wider regional water resources. The proposed CUSA area is a wrong place for a massive development such as one proposed.

—- It ignores NR 121.05 (2)(b) and 121.05 (2)(i) requirements relating to evaluation of the water quality impacts of the proposed activities and the necessary mitigation measures to offset any such impacts.

—- It ignores NR 121.01 public participation requirements.

—- It fails to show how the proposed water quality standards would be implemented and to what degree the implementation of such standards would work

—- The remaining capacity of all plotted land as well as vacant land for residential and for commercial space was not provided for the City of Middleton.

—- Documentation on the number of available land divisions in the Town of Westport was also not given.

—-The official population projections do not support the CUSA extension of the area size proposed here.

Stefi Harris and Arnold Harris

Western Dane Coalition for Smart Growth and Environment

3427 County Rd P

Mt Horeb WI 53572



Bradbury K R, SK Swanson, S K Krohelski, J T Fritz; Hydrology of Dane County; Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey; 1999.

Caracao D and R Clayton; Stormwater Supplement for Cold Climates; Center for Watershed Protection, Ellicot City, MD; December 1997.

Chin H W, K W Potter, J A Hoopes, J S Roger and E A Murdock; In-stream Sediment Transportation and Deposition; USA EPA Nutrient Science Star Grant; online.

Hunt R J, K R Bradbury and J T Krohelski; Effects of Large-Scale Pumping and

Diversion of the Water Resources of Dane County, Wisconsin; December 2001; USGS; online.

Lathrop R C and K W Potter; Alternative Urbanization Scenarios for an Agricultural Watershed: Design Criteria, Social Constraints and Effects of Groundwater on Surface Water Systems (Project Period 2000-2004); EPA/National Center for Environmental Research; online.

Steuer J J and Hunt R J; Use of Watershed-Modelling Approach to Assess Hydrologic Effects of Urbanization, North Fork Pheasant Branch Basin near Middleton, Wisconsin; USGS Water Resources Investigation Report 01-4113, 2001.

Planning documents

CARPC staff report 7/16/06; City of Middleton CUSA amendment for Misty Valley Development.

CARPC staff report 8/7/09; City of Verona USA amendment request.

CARPC; Regional Trends for 2008; online.

Dane County State of the Waters Report; Office of Lakes and Watersheds, 2008.

Dane County Water Quality Management Plan, 2004.

The Lower Rock River Water Quality Management Plan, 2001.

Joint Comprehensive Plan for Middleton-Westport.


LWRD map of natural areas near the proposed North Mendota Parkway; created 1/9/09.

Map of Infiltration and Stormwater Elements; North Mendota Environmental and transportation Study; Strand Associates 1-124.006.

Natural resource regulations

NR 121 Areawide Water Quality Management Plans.

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