Land Use

UW Madison, Division of Extension works in partnership with other agencies (Polk County Planning and Zoning and the Polk County Land and Water Conservation) to provide educational outreach on zoning, land use, and farmland planning processes. Additionally, the Community Development Educator provides education and resources to Plan Commissioners across the county. The Center for Land Use Education (CLUE) is a joint venture of the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and Extension. It is a focal point for land use planning and management education. As such, CLUE creates learning opportunities for communities to help them make sound land use decisions that result in a sustainable Wisconsin.

Resources for Plan Commissions

Rural communities in Wisconsin are facing many changes. Many people from urban areas are choosing to spend more time in rural areas. This community welcomes new homeowners and landowners. However, living in a rural area is, in many ways, much different than living in an urban community. This Rural Living Guide has been developed to inform those who are considering purchasing a rural property and those that already have. It is hoped that this information will help people consider issues that may affect them when living in a rural area.

Farmland Preservation 2014

On March 18, 2014 the Polk County Farmland Preservation Plan was adopted by the County Board.

The final Polk County Farmland Preservation Plan

The following text provides an explanation to the plan:

Working Lands Initiative prompts Polk County to develop a Farmland Preservation Plan. Chapter 91, (Working Lands Initiative) Wisconsin State Statutes established that all existing county farmland preservation plans are to expire by December 31, 2015. Polk County expired in December, 2013.

  • Overhauls 30-year-old Farmland Preservation Law
  • Requires County Planning
  • Enhances and Simplifies Farmer Tax Credits (flat rate credit rather than a confusing formula)
  • Authorizes Exclusive Ag Conservation Easements (Still remains in the program but largely unfunded)
  • Authorizes Ag Enterprise Areas (We have one – Squaw Lake AEA)

State has mandated the update of the plan in order to participate in the new program, tax credits, etc. We must revise our 30 year old plan to reflect current agricultural trends, include updated soils information. It is a necessary step in ensuring that those who currently participate and collect FP credits can continue to do so.

  • In addition to preserving agricultural lands the plan also addressed various agricultural trends and goals related to conserving natural resources, providing recreational needs, housing and adequate public services.
  • Participants were able to obtain income tax credits for agreeing to meet soil and water conservation compliance as well as meeting other eligibility requirements.

Overall, the idea behind Farmland Preservation:

  • Save critical Farmland Resources – Polk County has already lost significant amounts of agricultural lands to development

(From 1990-2007 Polk County lost 117,815 acres of Farmland Source: WI Dept of Revenue)

  • Minimize Land Use Conflicts
  • Agricultural Economic Development
  • Encourage Agricultural Investment
  • Help Farms Stay economically viable
  • The plan is meant to be a guide for elected officials and citizens for decision-making
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