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Regional Plans

There are a number of public and private regional plans that guide decision-making in the greater Madison region, which can be found here.

 Capital Area Regional Planning Commission Planning

The Regional Planning Commission prepares and adopts Land Use and Water Quality plans.

Land Use. Wisconsin Statutes charge regional planning commissions with “the function and duty of making and adopting a master plan for the physical development of the region.” The Dane County Regional Planning Commission adopted Vision 2020: Dane County Land Use and Transportation Plan in 1997, which still guides planning and development in the region. The Capital Area Regional Planning Commission adopted the Vision 2020 plan in March 2008 with Amended Goals and Objectives. The Commission amended Vision 2020 in December 2017 by adopting the Goals and Policies of the Regional Transportation Plan 2050 (RTP 2050) for the Madison Area. The Resolution amending Vision 2020 also identifies sections of Vision 2020 that are superseded by RTP 2050.

Today, the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission and a public-private coalition are working to update the Vision 2020 plan. This new initiative, A Greater Madison Vision, will establish a shared vision and plan for growth for the future of the region.

Water Quality. The Regional Planning Commission works to protect, improve and enhance water quality by implementing and updating the Dane County Water Quality Plan.

The plan consists of a Summary Plan (view PDF) and technical appendices. It provides a policy framework and guidance for state and local water quality protection programs. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources adopts the plan as part of areawide water quality management planning under state administrative code NR 121 and the federal Clean Water Act.

A key component of the plan is to identify urban service area and environmental corridor boundaries, which may be amended to reflect changes in land use plans.

The components of the complete Dane County Water Quality Plan include:

  • Groundwater Protection Planning Framework (2017) View PDF
  • Point Source Inventory and Analysis (2017) View PDF
  • Surface Water Conditions (2014) View PDF
  • Private On-Site Waste Water Treatment Systems Management (2013) View PDF
  • Urban Nonpoint Source Analysis (2011) View PDF
  • Dane County Water Quality Plan Summary (2004) View PDF
  • Environmental Corridors Report (1996) View PDF
  • Agricultural Nonpoint Source Analysis (1988) View PDF
  • Residual and Solid Waste Disposal (1988) View PDF
  • Lake Management (1979) View PDF
  • Summary of Public Participation (1979) View PDF
  • Socio-Economic Profile (1979) View PDF View Updated Data
  • Legal and Institutional Analysis (1978) View PDF
Other Regional Plans

Regional Transportation Plan (Greater Madison MPO). The plan establishes goals and policies to guide investments in all modes of transportation. Different levels of government use the plan to coordinate transportation projects. The Greater Madison MPO serves as the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Madison area, which includes most, but not all, of Dane County.

Land and Water Resources Management Plan (Dane County). The plan guides the activities of the Land Conservation Department in its efforts to protect and improve the natural resources of Dane County. The plan addresses soil and water quality concerns and develops an implementation plan for integrating local, state, and federal conservation programs.

Farmland Preservation Plan (Dane County). The plan guides farmland preservation activities, including zoning, conservation easements, grant making, and other policies. It meets the requirements of the Wisconsin Farmland Preservation Plan, enabling farmers to access tax credits under the Working Lands program.

Parks and Open Space Plan (Dane County). The plan guides preservation of key cultural, natural, and historic resources that enhance quality of life. It also identifies recreation and park land needs over a five-year time frame. The plan meets the requirements of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ State Stewardship funds.

Health Planning (Public Health Madison & Dane County). The Community Health Needs Assessment appraises the overall health of people in the region by reviewing risk factors, quality of life, mortality, morbidity, and access to health care. The Healthy Dane Collaborative of public health agencies and providers developed the assessment to establish priorities for community health and to develop, implement, and evaluate community health programming.

Economic Development (Madison Region Economic Partnership). Advance Now: Madison Region’s Strategy for Economic Growth promotes competitiveness, innovation and entrepreneurship, human capital, the region’s story, and regional cooperation, leadership and diversity.

Utility Planning. The greater Madison region contains numerous municipal utilities that each plan for and provide services. Regional collaboration is essential to the equitable use of resources and the efficient provision of utility services. There are 15 municipal wastewater treatment plants, 27 municipal water utilities, as well as private and public gas and electric utilities.

Education Planning. There are many educational institutions and school districts that separately implement plans to educate students, locate and construct schools, and transport students and staff. These 27 public school districts range in size from Evansville to the Madison Metropolitan School District, in addition to 39 private schools and 8 colleges and universities.

Local Comprehensive Planning. Regional planning is most effective when local and regional plans are consistent, especially where communities coordinate land uses along their borders. Each of the 61 units of local government prepares its own comprehensive plan. They include the following elements: issues and opportunities; land use; transportation; economic development; housing; utilities and community facilities; agricultural, natural and cultural resources; intergovernmental cooperation; and implementation as required by the Wisconsin Comprehensive Planning law, Wis. Stat. § 66.1001.