October 25, 2017
Once again, Republicans in the Legislature are trying to take power away from local governments.
Their bills (AB 479 and SB 387) would limit the ability of villages, towns, cities, and counties to enforce their current policies on substandard lots. And it would exempt some private ponds from a DNR regulation.
More specifically, the bills would make it easier for property owners to get variances and conditional use permits, to use – or sell an interest in -- a substandard lot, and to allow the removal of soil from the bed of private ponds that are less than 5 acres without needing to get DNR approval.
The bill is backed by some of the biggest special interests in Wisconsin, including Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (the state’s biggest business lobby), Americans for Prosperity (founded by the Koch Brothers), and the Wisconsin Realtors Association. Together, these three groups have spent more than $36 million since 2010 to help elect Gov. Scott Walker and to put Republicans in control of the Legislature. The breakdown is as follows:
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce: $18.6 million
Americans for Prosperity: $5.6 million
Wisconsin Realtors Association: $11.9 million
Other business interests that have registered in favor of the bill include the Aggregate Producers of Wisconsin, the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, Madison Area Builders Association, Marshfield Clinic, NAIOP (the Commercial Real Estate Development Association), T. Wall Enterprises, and the Wisconsin Builders Association.
Opponents include Dane County, Midwest Environmental Advocates, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Counties Association, and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.