What housing costs might look like in the next 20 years is not easy to predict, but Jefferson County residents took up that task Wednesday night as part of a future look of the area.
During a public input session at the Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson, residents gathered in groups to address topics such as transportation, land use and even the need for more affordable housing. The county is creating a Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan and an Agriculture plan for local government to use as a guide when making decisions on such topics.
Stephanie Falkers, from SRF Consulting in Middleton, is leading the planning for the county. She said the idea is to look at the county as a business.
“Every time we make a zoning or subdivision decision, we need to look at this,” she said.
The process of creating a plan still is in the early stages with public meetings being held around the county.
Paul Chellevold, an associate planner from SRF, said a questionnaire has been sent to 26,000 households throughout Jefferson County. And the goal is to get at least 2,000 responses back by the end of this month.
“This is a citizen-driven plan,” he said.
Falkers echoed that statement, saying resident input into the future of the county is imperative.
The State of Wisconsin requires cities and counties to update their comprehensive plans every 20 years, with a tweak to the plan every decade.
Falkers looked at the predicted growth of Jefferson County, with an estimated population of 100,000 by 2040. She also looked at the median household income that stands at $59,000.
Following the presentation, residents broke into groups to each decide what their concerns for the county are. Topics ranged from the need for more senior housing to additional apartments.
An idea even was pitched for a commuter bus service to help transport so many residents who work outside of the county.
One thing many of the groups agreed upon is that they like the schools, teen programs and the rural charm of the area.
Falkner said there also is an agricultural plan to accompany the comprehensive plan. Some of the concerns from residents at the meeting involved how new roads affect the county’s farmland.
SRF Consulting concluded its public meetings Thursday night in Lake Mills.