County advances comprehensive plan update

By Ryan Whisner:

JEFFERSON — The process to update Jefferson County’s comprehensive plan and agricultural preservation and land use plan got under way Tuesday night.

The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors adopted the public participation plan for the process of revising the comprehensive plan.

Project manager Paul Chellevold of SRF Consulting Group, Madison, presented a summary of how the process will be conducted over the next 21 months.


He said the goal is to finalize the plan in September/October 2020 over the course of approximately 25 public meetings.

“It is a plan that is going to set the tone of the next 10 years for the county,” he said.

Chellevold defined a comprehensive plan as a local government guide to make decisions and set a vision for the future.

“It creates a 20-year time horizon,” he said.

Jefferson County went through an extensive update of its agricultural preservation and land use plan, then designated as the “2020 plan” in the late 1990s. That plan since has been updated twice, the last time being 2012.

The revised plan will be labeled as the Jefferson County 2040 Plan. However, Chellevold pointed out that it would be reviewed again in approximately 10 years to ensure the concepts and vision set in 2020 remains true in 2030.

The consultant emphasized that the intention is to ensure the plan is driven by community engagement.

“It is a guiding document that is going to set the vision for the county going forward,” Chellevold said, noting that they want to do it in a way that is in conjunction with the citizens of the county.

Further, he said, many of the concepts in the existing plan will move forward, but it needs to be updated.

He stressed that the plan will be built from the citizens.

“We want to put together plans that are useful for you,” Chellevold said.

He said the intention is for the goals, objectives and policies to be used and followed.

“We want to put a document in front of you that is used and doesn’t just sit on the shelf and collect dust,” he said.

As presented and approved, over the 21 months, there are expected to be five phases of community outreach — development of a steering committee, data collection, intergovernmental interviews, plan analysis and draft plan review. Each phase includes multiple public-participation opportunities.

“It will be a multi-pronged effort to really look at online community surveys, traditional public engagement opportunities and platforms,” Chellevold said.

At its January meeting, the county board approved creating a steering committee to provide oversight of the updates to the county’s comprehensive plan and agricultural preservation and land use plan. Updates of the two plans are significant to the county’s strategic plan.

Chellevold said the Steering Committee will have 18 members to draw upon, as stated in the resolution, “various stakeholder groups in the county.” The board will appoint the members; however, county board Chairperson Jim Schroeder and some county staff members will serve as ex-officio members to assist the appointees.


Appointees will include two county board supervisors who currently serve on the county’s Planning and Zoning Committee; one at-large county board supervisor; and appointed representatives from the “functional areas” of the developer/building/real estate industry; a large agricultural producer; a small agricultural producer; and representatives of environmental, tourism, business (the chairperson of Thrive), a city, a village, three townships, K-12 education, post-secondary education, a nonprofit entity, and health/human services.

He said the Steering Committee is expected to meet four times and provide updates to the full board on the progress of the plans.

Chellevold said the meetings will include the project kick-off, early public engagement review, a mid-project review and the draft plan review. The data-collection phase will include outreach and engagement efforts for gathering data and identifying the issues.

Engagement strategies expected to be utilized include an online community survey and regional meetings.

The survey will be hosted online via SurveyMonkey and will be accessible via phone, tablet or computer. Paper copies of the survey will be available for those without internet access.

Chellevold noted that regional meetings will be held in four locations throughout the county to provide multiple opportunities for engagement and divide the county into geographic subareas. The meetings each will be two hours and include a presentation to the group along with small group-input activities.

He noted that the intergovernmental interviews involve the county’s collaboration with individual municipalities within the county. These interviews will provide an opportunity for the county to gain a better understanding of the challenges of each local jurisdiction and discuss long-range planning goals.

From that point, the process will advance to the plan analysis phase as the initial findings are presented to stakeholders. Chellovold said the analysis will consist of two rounds of public engagement with focus groups and regional meetings.

He acknowledged that the focus groups have not been established as to the topic areas or locations. Additional regional meetings will be held to provide the public opportunities to provide input.

Lastly, the draft plan review phase will provide community members a final opportunity to provide feedback on the draft plan prior to adoption. The intention is to include a draft plan open house, and public hearings at the county’s Planning and Zoning Committee and at county board prior to final approval.