Dane County flooding

Middleton Mayor Gurdip Brar talks with Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, (l-r) Dane County Emergency Director Charles Tubbs, Middleton Ald. Susan West along Century Avenue near Pheasant Branch after flooding in the area in August 2018. 

Results from a regional planning survey show Dane County residents want to see efforts to mitigate and prevent climate change prioritized as the area grows.

Led by the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, A Greater Madison Vision is an effort to create a regional development plan that will reflect the priorities of the communities it represents and be a resource to local officials.

“On a regional level, this focuses on possible futures and now we can create better futures working together,” CARPC agency director Steve Steinhoff said. “There’s a growing sense that we are more increasingly an interconnected region — we’ve generally always been — but the awareness of that is growing.”  

Nearly 9,200 people took the online survey, which allowed residents to simulate different planning priorities and rank the importance of four types of change — population, society, environment and technology— expected to occur with growth.

Survey respondents ranked renewable energy and green infrastructure as top priorities. The survey was live during when flooding threatened much of Dane County last year, which Steinhoff said likely influenced the results.

“People are pretty concerned about climate change,” Steinhoff said.

Second to environmental concerns, survey respondents who identified as people of color and people with lower incomes prioritized more community-based resources better connections between education and jobs and more housing options.

Residents outside of Madison emphasized the importance of protecting farming areas. Expanded transit and housing options also surfaced as areas of concern.

These priorities align with what Madison area community members highlighted as areas of concern through the Local Voices Network project, particularly on issues of climate change, transportation and housing

Overall, survey takers demonstrated they want efficient and better-connected growth that decreases transportation, energy and infrastructure costs while protecting natural resources.

CARPC chair Larry Palm said he was pleased with the number of survey responses, particularly the engagement from youth and residents of rural communities. He hopes to continue conducting regional surveys to continue understanding how Dane County is changing and the priorities of residents.

“One way to ensure we continue to plan accordingly is to continue to ask individuals and communities what they’re thinking,” Palm said.

Palm said CARPC will be using the data for its own regional land use plan and will be informing communities across Dane County about the results. He also envisions organizations like the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board using the results to inform their transportation plan. 

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