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Comprehensive Planning

Think back to 1987 and the community in which you lived. Remembering the community then, compare it to what you see today. Are you pleased with the changes? Are there aspects of the community that you wish could be altered in some way? Just as Oconto County has seen changes during the last 20 years, there will be changes throughout the next 20 years. Change is in evitable; however, planning allows a community to proactively address all aspects of it.

What are the projected population changes in Oconto County from 2000 – 2025?

 Click here for Map  —  1900 to 2005 Population Graphic







What is Planning?

Planning is a tool we all use on a daily basis both on a professional and personal basis. We plan for our financial future; the equipment required at a job site; how to build that new home; and even what is needed at the store on our way home from work. Planning for something simple or complex involves assessing the current situation, determining what we want to accomplish, and taking the necessary steps to accomplish it.

Planning is utilized by the County, Towns, Villages, and Cities in which we live and work. Planning is utilized to:

  • Determine local needs, goals, and priorities.
  • Balance various types of developments.
  • Establish and implement policies.

What is Comprehensive Planning?

Taking a broad look at every element and feature of a community in the planning process is often referred to as “comprehensive planning”. A comprehensive plan will assess the current situation, determine needs, create a vision for the future, develop goals and objectives, and establish an action guide to accomplish that desired vision. In October of 1999, Wisconsin enacted statute 66.1001 establishing a standard for planning throughout Wisconsin.

What is the Wisconsin Comprehensive Planning Grant Program?

The state of Wisconsin established a grant program to assist communities with funding for comprehensive planning. This grant program is administered by the Department of Administration (DOA).

Oconto along with multiple local communities submitted a grant application in the fall of 2005. This grant application was awarded in the spring of 2006. Oconto County, 13 Towns, 2 Villages, and 1 City were awarded $263,000 to assist in offsetting the cost of creating or updating comprehensive plans meeting the requirements of 66.1001.

Oconto County Planning

Now take a moment to look into the planning activities occurring in your local community and across Oconto County. The link below will take you step by step from the basics of planning in Wisconsin to the draft documents and timelines associated with the current planning project underway in Oconto County.

Land Season Scenes

What is the status of Comprehensive Plans in Oconto County?

Throughout Oconto County, communities are at different planning stages. Numerous communities created plans in the late 90′s prior to the state legislation. These communities are participating in the current planning process to update existing plans in order to meet legislative requirements. The remaining communities are currently participating in the current planning process to create plans meeting the legislative requirements.?Of 29 Local Units of Government:

Of 29 Local Units of Government:
  • 15 have completed statute compliant plans
  • 8 have completed plans under 62.23 that must be updated
  • 6 have not undertaken planning activities in the past

What is the Oconto County Planning Process?

Oconto County has developed a planning process to develop comprehensive plans that meet statutory requirements. The planning process will be facilitated by the “Planning Team”. The Planning Team consists of Oconto County, Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission (contracted by Oconto County to assist in the planning process), and UW-Extension staff. For planning purposes, Oconto County communities have been grouped into “planning clusters”. These planning clusters are effective from an efficiency standpoint as well as promoting intergovernmental cooperation.

Planning Clusters: Planning Clusters Map

Northern Map Northern - (Information on Communities Progress)

(Town of: Brazeau (north), Doty, Lakewood, Mountain, Riverview, Townsend)

Central Map Central - (Information on Communities Progress)

(Town of: Bagley, Brazeau (south), Breed, Gillett, How, Maple Valley, Oconto Falls, Spruce, Underhill, Suring. City of: Gillett & Oconto Falls)

Southern Map Southern - (Information on Communities Progress)

(Town of: Abrams, Chase, Lena, Little River, Little Suamico, Morgan, Oconto, Pensaukee, Stiles. Village of Lena. City of Oconto)

To assist throughout the planning process the Oconto County Planning Advisory Committee (OCPAC) has been created. This committee is comprised of two representatives from each community throughout Oconto County. The OCPAC will serve an advisory role for the Planning Team and Oconto County Planning and Zoning Committee throughout the planning process.

A flow chart was developed to assist in understanding the flow of information and decisions throughout the planning process.

A project timeline was initially created to give a general idea of when project phases would be completed. Additional timelines have since then been created to better detail when and how project phases will be completed.

A public participation plan was created to guide public interaction throughout the planning process. Oconto County adopted a County Public Participation Plan on August 24, 2006. For those local communities creating or updating plans as part of this multi-jurisdictional planning process, local public participation plans have been adopted. These plans reference the plan adopted by the County and discuss means of fostering public participation locally.

As part of the planning process, an Economic S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Workshop was held in Oconto County in early 2007. This workshop asked participants to fully examine the county’s economic climate and identify important economic issues. The economic issues identified during this workshop will assist Oconto County and local municipalities prepare strategies to promote their economic strengths, minimize economic weaknesses, take full advantage of economic opportunities, and lessen potential economic threats.

Early in the planning process an issue identification “Nominal Group” exercise was held with each of the planning clusters and the OCPAC. The exercise asked participants to identify significant issues that should be addressed during the planning process. By identifying issues early in the planning process, they can be effectively addressed throughout plan development.

Developing a vision statement is another important step in the planning process. The vision statements drafted during the planning process throughout Oconto County will be based on participant input. One method of gathering input is through surveys, which ask for input in areas such as Natural, Cultural, and Historical Resources; Land Planning and Development; Commerce and Industry; Community Services; Housing; Transportation (Roads and Highways); Agriculture; and Recreation. The responses gathered from these surveys will assist communities develop a vision for the future.

As the Oconto County planning process continues so will development of the plan documents. County and Local plans will have a user friendly format to promote document use and consistency. All plans will be comprised of three volumes. Volume I will contain the community vision, goals, objectives, land use maps and other information required to make land use decisions on a daily basis. This Volume will also include steps to implementing the plan. Volume II will contain the background information utilized as the basis for plan development and continued reference.Chart

Volume II – County Resources (Draft)

As the resource information reached draft stage, open houses were held at the cluster levels to give the public an opportunity to view the data, ask questions, and state concerns. Mid-Point summaries were created for the County and the planning clusters.

Where can I access more County and local planning information?

Throughout the planning process Oconto County planning information can be located on the Oconto County and Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission Websites?

Throughout the planning process local planning information can be located on the Oconto County and Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission Websites.