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Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


A letter from a friend:



In these times of budget crisis, the state of Wisconsin wants to spend $20 million to build a brand new interchange out at Pabst Farms in Waukesha County. For those who don't know, Pabst Farms is an isolated, sprawling, high-priced development, with little transit access or affordable housing. Yet our state is looking to reward Pabst Farms with an interchange so it can attract a developer to build a shopping mall.

For this to go forward, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) has to change its Transportation Improvement Plan to give priority to the new interchange.
SEWRPC is taking Public Comments until Mon. 10/29.


It's easy - below and attached are comments with (an unfortunately long list of) paragraphs outlining concerns that you can use as a whole, or pick and choose from (or include your own thoughts also!).

Just click on TIP@sewrpc.org and add in what you think is important. Regional planners and the state need to hear that we want money for sustainable development and fair transit, not for urban sprawl. And please share this with others concerned about these issues.

Comments can be emailed by 10/29 to SEWRPC at TIP@sewrpc.org (or use the mailing address if you'd prefer; it's below - comments must be received by 10/29).


Karyn Rotker

Poverty Race and Civil Liberties Project Attorney
Sample letter and address to send your comments to!

P.O. Box 1607
Waukesha, WI 53187-1607


I object to SEWRPC or the state of Wisconsin proceeding with any effort to develop or build an interchange at Pabst Farms (Hwy. P), and amending the TIP to include the interchange for the following reasons:

NEED TO PRIORITIZE TRANSIT: The state should not be spending millions of dollars for a highway interchange - while failing to adequately fund sustainable regional public transportation. The regional transportation plan states that it is necessary to INCREASE transit at the same rate as highway construction - but while this TIP amendment would expand highways, transit systems in both Waukesha and Milwaukee County are being threatened with cutbacks and/or fare increases. No interchange should move forward if transit is not moving forward.

NEED TO PRIORITIZE DEVELOPMENT THAT BENEFITS WISCONSIN'S UNDERSERVED RESIDENTS: Our tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the wealthy at the expense of poor and working class residents. Good development has a real benefit to the community and includes connections to quality family supporting jobs for the underutilized labor force, transit to catalytic projects from underserved communities, and affordable housing so that people who work in an area can afford to live there. The Past Farm project fails to meet any of these standards and therefore should not receive public support.

NEED TO STOP AIR POLLUTION & GLOBAL WARMING: Assisting in building a huge mall or retail development in rural Waukesha County is wrong - because that kind of development will generate huge volumes of new vehicular traffic. Those kinds of effects need to be taken seriously and studied before allowing the interchange to proceed.

NEED TO STOP URBAN SPRAWL: A big shopping mall in the Pabst Farms area will turn Oconomowoc into another sprawl development. Why locate a huge retail development and these jobs out in this rural area, far from the people who need and could fill these jobs, especially when the surrounding community has excluded workforce housing. These are serious effects that need to be studied before allowing the interchange to move forward.

NEED TO SAVE FARMLAND: Wisconsin's agricultural economy is being threatened by ill- advised development on the some of the world best agricultural soils. A mall is a short-term investment that will cause permanent damage to our farm economy.

NEED TO CONDUCT SERIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDIES: Waukesha is already unable to sustain its growth and faces a serious water shortage. Yet, we are ready to spend taxpayer dollars on a project in Oconomowoc without adequately considering the environmental impacts. There hasn't been a current or meaningful Environmental Impact Analysis of this proposal. The evidence shows that without the interchange there won't be a mall or large retail development - there needs to be an environmental analysis of ALL the consequences of the Pabst Farms Mall or retail development before the interchange is allowed to proceed.

NEED TO SUPPORT TAXPAYERS: Spending millions of dollars in public money for an interchange that will primarily benefit a private mall developer doesn't help Wisconsin taxpayers and shouldn't be the goal for public investment. This is not wise use of taxpayer dollars and shouldn't be allowed to proceed.

NEED FOR MEANINGFUL PUBLIC INPUT: The taxpayer money spent on the Past Farm interchange comes from all of our pockets, not just from residents of Oconomowoc. Opportunities for meaningful public input, including input from low income and minority communities, should be created before this proposal is allowed to proceed.



City:_____________________________, WI Zip:________________


Organization (if any):____________________


Georgia said...

The constructors of Pabst (Blue Ribbon) Subdivision - - - OWN the best politicians money can buy.

It (the subdivision) will get the roads and perhaps even schools.......just wait and watch.

Anonymous said...

We are questioning a new interchange in Fitchburg, off Hwy 12/18 to support urban sprawl in a rural NE corner.

This story was recently published in the Capital Times.


UW environmental sciences Professor Cal DeWitt is highly critical of a proposed development in Fitchburg's northeast corner.
Rob Zaleski: Slow down, Fitchburg, prof urges
Rob Zaleski - 2/06/2008 10:54 am

Does the city of Fitchburg really need this?

That's the question Fitchburg residents should be asking themselves regarding the proposed 868-acre Northeast Neighborhood in the city's far northeast corner. Or so says Cal DeWitt, UW-Madison's highly respected environmental sciences professor.

Indeed, if Fitchburg residents took the time to look into the issue, DeWitt says, they'd quickly realize why the city would be making a huge mistake by approving the project. And why that approval could well come back to haunt the city years down the road.

It would be a mistake for several reasons, contends DeWitt, who lives in the nearby town of Dunn and who presented his arguments at two recent meetings of the Fitchburg Plan Commission (on Sept. 4 and Jan. 15).

The neighborhood, which includes a 250-acre subdivision proposed by developer Phil Sveum, would be several miles from Fitchburg's urban core and is a classic example of leapfrog, urban sprawl, DeWitt says. That means the city would have to extend urban services across U.S. 14 to the neighborhood, "at immense expense" to taxpayers.
What's more, the traffic generated by the development would require the city to build an interchange at U.S. 14, probably at Lacy Road, he says.

If the city were to boost well pumping in the area, it would adversely affect the Nine Springs E-Way and other area springs and eventually lead to water quality problems similar to what Madison has experienced, DeWitt says. That's because the aquitard -- or shale layer, called the Eau Claire formation -- that lies beneath northeast Fitchburg and protects the deep aquifer under it from surface contamination has virtually disappeared.
In addition, runoff from the project could cause severe eutrophication -- excessive plant growth and decay -- of the southern end of Lake Waubesa.

The development runs contrary to Fitchburg's stated desire to practice smart growth and focus its development around its existing urban core in the Fish Hatchery Road-Lacy Road area.
"If you go back in history, Fitchburg became a city out of fear of annexation by the city of Madison," DeWitt points out. "They took that step so they could identify themselves as a distinct urban unit. But if they put a subdivision at their northeast corner, right next to Madison, it won't be part of their community. It will be a settlement of houses that's going to be much more identifiable with Madison.

"So the very thing they were trying to prevent they are now promoting."

DeWitt reached these conclusions after a lengthy investigation (he was assisted by members of his graduate wetlands research class), beginning in the fall of 2006. And he thinks his presentations before the Plan Commission opened the eyes of many Fitchburg officials.

Still, barring a public outcry, his gut feeling is that the City Council, which is headed by Mayor Tom Clauder, will approve the development, probably out of a feeling of obligation to Sveum more than anything else.

"I think the city's attitude is that if somebody's made a substantial investment in the purchase of land, that person has the right to develop it," he says.

DeWitt says that's the typical argument local governments use when they approve controversial developments -- particularly when they're feeling pressure from the developer. But while he certainly can appreciate why Sveum is eager to get his project approved, DeWitt notes that every developer is fully aware from the beginning that "some investments work out and some don't."

Besides, there's nothing that says the city couldn't work out a deal with Sveum, DeWitt says -- "perhaps by doing transferable development rights or something of that nature."

I attempted to reach Clauder to get his views on the matter, but he did not return messages left on his answering machine. But I did reach Tom Hovel, the zoning administrator and city planner, who disagreed with DeWitt's contention that the project would be classic sprawl.

It's true, he said, that Fitchburg would have to extend a water line to the neighborhood and that it also would require a sanitary sewer hookup with the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District from the east. But he said the project is within the city's 50-year long-term growth boundary and eventually would be linked to the city by the proposed "green-tech village" between Syene Road and U.S. 14.

Moreover, if you look at the big picture, Hovel says, the development would actually be in the central part of Dane County.

Well, it might be in central Dane County, DeWitt says, but anyone who looks at an aerial photo of the site would see how isolated it is from the rest of Fitchburg.

"If the Common Council approves this," he says, "it's essentially saying, we're going to raise the taxes of the people of Fitchburg -- principally those living in the urban core -- in order to assure that the investment this individual made will pay off."

Of course, that's Fitchburg's prerogative, DeWitt adds.

But if you're a Fitchburg resident and happen to be reading this, don't say you weren't forewarned.

Rob Zaleski - 2/06/2008 10:54 am