With Dane County’s population projected to grow by 150,000 over the next quarter-century, local leaders are asking residents to participate in a county-wide survey aiming to establish a plan for growth and development.

The Capital Area Regional Planning Commission’s “A Greater Madison Vision” survey is up online and being promoted by both DeForest and Windsor village offices. Links to the poll are available on both village’s Facebook pages.

DeForest Village President Judd Blau said that while the survey largely lacks prompts to convey specific concerns, the survey’s “scenario-based” approach casts a wide net.

“Overall, it encompassed some of the bigger issues in the community at large,” Blau said.

The survey works by polling residents on the importance of certain aspects of life in Dane County – like access to changing technologies, political divides, environmental and population trends.

Then, respondents are presented with “what if” scenarios – as in, “what if” communities focused their resources on certain community issues (like housing options), innovation (such as expanded public transit options), self-reliance (like local food and energy production) and environmental conservation.

Respondents are then asked to rank their future priorities, including public transportation, farmland preservation and local energy generation. It takes about 10 minutes to complete and requires little to no writing.

The Greater Madison Vision survey is one easy way of participating in the evolution of Dane County, said Windsor Village President Bob Wipperfurth.

“I think it’s important that people always have different avenues to voice their opinions,” Wipperfurth said. “Oftentimes people will complain about how things are developing … but if you ask if they’ve gotten involved … oftentimes they’ll say, ‘No.’”

Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) Deputy Director Steve Steinhoff said the results from the survey – which runs through Nov. 12 – will be incorporated into CARPC’s comprehensive plan, an advisory planning document that Steinhoff hopes Dane County’s communities will adopt and conform to.

Along with an expected population rise of 150,000 over the next 25 years, Steinhoff said there’s an expectation of an additional 70,000 new homes and 90,000 new jobs.

“That means millions of square feet of new business space, not to mention the schools and the roads and the police departments,” Steinhoff said. “We know that how (it) all happens matters. It seems long-term and remote, but the decisions that get made now … will affect how affordable housing is going to be, or how long we’ll be stuck in traffic getting from one place to another.

“Even how severe our floods will be are based on development practices,” Steinhoff added.

The use of residents’ input, Steinhoff said, is a tool he hopes will curry support for CARPC’s regional plan among local municipal leadership.

CARPC doesn’t have the authority to force municipalities to adopt their plan, but having thousands of people’s support could lend credibility to the effort.

“We’re encouraging as much participation in the survey because it builds understanding of what we’re doing,” Steinoff said, “…and hopefully more support for the outcomes and the desire to see the outcomes happen.”

As of late last week, more than 3,000 people had submitted results. Steinhoff said CARPC is aiming to collect 10,000 responses by the time the A Great Madison Vision campaign wraps up in November.

In the end, Steinhoff hopes Dane County will become a more connected and livable region for its residents, whether in downtown Madison or rural Windsor.

But he acknowledged that urban residents will likely have a higher representation in the survey results than those living in more remote parts of the county.

That’s why Steinhoff said he’s conducted outreach to promote the survey among officials in villages and towns like Windsor and DeForest.

“We know that organizations that work around common goals and strategies are more successful in tackling those strategies,” Steinhoff said.

The Greater Madison Vision survey can be found on the Facebook pages of DeForest and Windsor and also at greatermadisonvision.com. Steinhoff said respondents are asked to supply their zip code – and IP addresses are monitored – to ensure the participant is a Dane County resident.

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