Town Of Berry Comprehensive Plan
The Reason for Planning
The Town of Berry contains some of the most beautiful countryside in Dane County. Wooded ridges and hills interspersed with lowland valleys provide scenic vistas. Woodlands, creeks, and open fields provide habitat for wildlife. Residents cherish the rural, open lands. The beauty of the land is also attracting new development; the value of land in the Town has nearly doubled between 1998 and 2002. With relatively easy access to the Madison metropolitan area and nearby villages and cities, Berry is attractive to those seeking to live “in the country.” It was time for Berry to balance future development with preservation of the rural character of the Town.
Purpose of the Comprehensive Plan
The Town of Berry Comprehensive Plan will help the Town to preserve its rural, open spaces and guide the amount, location, and quality of development over the next 20 years. The goal of this Plan is to preserve the rural scenery and lifestyle in Berry through careful planning, design, and placement of land uses, community-sensitive regional transportation solutions, and intergovernmental cooperation to manage growth.
The Comprehensive Plan updates and replaces the Town’s 1981 Land Use Plan, and meets all requirements of the State’s “Smart Growth” and Farmland Preservation laws. The Comprehensive Plan was prepared following more than a year of study by the Town, and using several methods of public input. This public input has shown that residents wish to preserve the rural character of the Town while ensuring that landowners are able to exercise their development rights.
The resulting Comprehensive Plan document includes ten chapters, covering land use, transportation, agricultural, natural and cultural resources, utilities and community facilities, housing, economic development, intergovernmental cooperation, and implementation. The following paragraphs summarize the key recommendations.
Protect Rural Community Character
“Community Character” is hard to define, but it is the reason why many people choose to live in the Town of Berry. The rural character of the Town is defined by steep, wooded hillsides, verdant lowlands featuring agricultural uses or rural open spaces, and natural resource areas such as Festge Park. One of the attractions to many residents is the ability to get away from more developed areas and enjoy the openness of the scenery. In order to preserve this open, rural character for as many residents as possible, the Town has chosen to adopt guidelines that will help to:
- Preserve significant scenic and natural areas, and historic buildings.
- Protect views along Highways 14 and 19 by controlling new signage and development.
- Sensitively site new housing on the rural landscape.
This Comprehensive Plan contains a Planned Land Use Map to help the Town decide how to guide land uses in the future. Future development decisions will be based on that map and the policies behind it. Key elements include -:
- Ensuring that landowners will be able to exercise all development rights conferred under the density policy originally expressed in the Town’s 1981 Land Use Plan (1 dwelling allowed for every 35 acres of land owned).
- Allowing limited “shifting” of development rights from one parcel of land to another, provided the development is in order with the goals, objectives and policies of the Plan.
- Accommodating new development in areas where there is already development, such as Marxville.
- Working with the Village of Cross Plains to direct new growth to carefully planned “transition” areas near the Village, while respecting the values of Town landowners near the Village edge.
- Exploring approaches that would require development in planned development areas, such as Marxville, to assist in the preservation of long-term rural/agricultural land elsewhere in the Town, to ensure that landowners throughout the Town are treated equally.
- Controlling new commercial development in the Town, and focusing on agricultural, recreational or other support uses that will benefit the community.
- Keeping new development away from sensitive environmental areas, such as wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes, and productive agricultural land.
It is important to emphasize that this Plan does not prohibit development on all parcels containing high-quality agricultural lands, open space, and steep slopes. Rather, the Plan encourages landowners to direct site development or disturbance away from these features and into more appropriate portions of their property.
Promote High-Quality Development Design
As important as where new development goes is how it looks and relates to surrounding uses, roads, natural areas, and the desired rural character of the Town. The Plan recommends the following to promote high-quality design of new development -:
- Using principles of “conservation neighborhood design” in the design of new subdivisions (where they are allowed). These principles include preserving blocks of natural areas or farmland and preserving rural character by “hiding” new development with vegetation or topography.
- Using siting guidelines in the design of all development in the Town that does not require a subdivision. These include preserving existing vegetation and site features (fences rows, barns, silos, etc), locating development to minimize visibility from public roads and existing residences, and keeping development below hilltops and ridgelines.
- Requiring commercial uses to be built according to a site plan that demonstrates good site, building, landscape, signage, and lighting design.
Pursue Responsible Transportation Planning
The ease of transport between the Town of Berry and nearby cities and villages is both a blessing and a curse. The expansion of U.S. Highway 12 and was a blessing yet State Highways 14 and 19 continue to grow busier. With respect to transportation, the Comprehensive Plan recommends -:
- Continued updating and implementation of a Town Road Improvement Program.
- Limiting “side of the road” development on main roadways.
- Consideration of Town road impact fees or special assessments for new development projects that place a burden on or require the upgrading of Town roads.
- Accommodation of bicycle traffic on less traveled Town roadways.
Prepare Intergovernmental Plans and Agreements
The Town of Berry will have to work with other governments to fully achieve its future objectives. Recommendations for intergovernmental cooperation include -:
- Resolving any conflicts between the Town of Berry Comprehensive and plans of adjacent communities.
- Considering joint services with surrounding communities when it would result in better services or cost savings.
- Working with the Village of Cross Plains to develop an agreement regarding the future development of the Village and the Town’s desired growth areas.
- Working with surrounding communities, particularly the Village of Cross Plains, to encourage an orderly, efficient land use pattern that preserves farmland, rural open lands, and natural resources, and minimizes conflicts between urban and rural uses.
The Town Plan Commission and Board of Supervisors will use their discretion in approving rezonings away from Exclusive Agricultural zoning. Development proposals will be evaluated by how well they fulfill the goals, objectives and policies of this Plan. The Plan provides written guidelines in the form of land use policies and a preferred site development process for development of land, which includes illustrations depicting land suitable for development and land desirable for preservation. These illustrations will make the site development process useful as a handout to landowners wishing to develop on their property.
Provide a Guide for Implementation
The recommendations of this Plan will not implement themselves. The Town, in cooperation with residents and property owners, will have to exercise the guidelines contained in this Plan and take further actions over the next several years in order to make the Plan a reality. These actions include -:
- Following the land use and development design recommendations of this Plan when considering all rezone, conditional use permit, and land division requests.
- Requiring the submittal of a specific development proposal before approving a rezoning, conditional use permit, or land division request.
- Considering a Town subdivision ordinance to enhance the ability of the Town to implement the goals, objectives and policies of this Plan.
- Exploring and possibly implementing a more comprehensive transfer of development rights program within the Town, between the Town and nearby jurisdictions, or within the region.
- Preparing a “splits” map for properties within the Agricultural and Rural Lands Preservation Area.
- Continuing to monitor and amend the Plan as conditions change the Plan will have to be fully updated by 2012.
Comprehensive Plan PDF files
Berry Comprehensive Plan
Attachment A: Guidelines
Attachment B: Preferred Site Development Process
Attachment C: Definitions
Attachment D: Wireless Communications Facilities Guidelines
Attachment E: Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program Ordinance