Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Monona Council Review - December 7, 2009

Dane County Supervisor Robin Schmidt attended the Monona city council on December 7 and gave an update on four items: the county budget, the RTA, water body classification project/shoreland zoning, and the county's proposed radio narrow-banding and interoperability proposal (DaneCom). She brought along staffers John Dejung - Director of the Dane County Public Safety Communications Center and Todd Violante, Director of Dane County Planning & Development Department.

Dane County Regional Transit Authority

An RTA-supporter group has its own YouTube page and Facebook page. I still say: a. we need the details (and those will be provided only once the RTA is appointed, convenes, and develops a proposal the sales tax for which will go to referendum) and b. Monona has as much to gain from an RTA as any community in the area and more than most.

By the way, when Robin used the term MPO she was referring to the Madison Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. Urban areas are required to have an MPO by federal law to oversee the allocation of federal transportation funds. Alder Veserat used the term MPO in a different way, but it was unclear to me (and to Robin) what exactly he meant.

The folks who oppose the RTA seemingly just can't wait for the details of an actual proposal from the RTA board (which still needs a couple of appointments). They want to oppose it now, gosh darn it!

The appointments so far. More RTA stories from the Daily Reporter. "The Daily Reporter Publishing Company is Wisconsin’s leading provider of construction news and data and offers a host of products to help keep contractors and suppliers ahead of the competition."

Dane County Waterbody Classification Plan

The also controversial waterbody classification plan has also attracted opposition, including the realtors association. Waterbody Classification: Shoreland and Riparian Management Plan, Public Hearing Draft 11-5-09. In this case, however, we do have a draft staff report to review and comment on. There is no proposed ordinance yet.

Here are the Dane County staff recommendations: Recommendations and Timeline.

Among the recommendations:

If recommended by the Lakes and Watershed Commission, amend the Stormwater and Erosion Control Ordinance (Chapter 14, Dane County Code) to:

Require that, within 12 months, cities and villages amend their erosion control ordinances to meet or exceed the standards described in s. 11.05, Dane County Code.

Require or recommend that cities and villages follow the violations and enforcement procedures and penalties described in ss. 14.73 and 14.80, Dane County Code.
Here is the full current County ordinance Chapter 11: Chapter 11: Shoreland, Shoreland-Wetland and Inland- Wetland Regulations. Section 11.05 sets shoreland erosion requirements. Section 11.05 incorporates other ordinances such as 11.07, 11.08, 11.09 and 11.10.

One concern is the interplay between these recommendations and the new NR 115. The County will be required to amend its zoning laws to incorporate changes to NR 115. By law and by its own terms, NR 115 does not apply in cities or villages. The County could, however, choose to apply the requirements of NR 115 to incorporated areas.

The devils in the details, but we at least have some recommended details that we should start examining closely.

(Here's a summary of Proposed Improvements to the Shoreland Development Standards - WDNR under NR 115. "The state Natural Resources Board adopted revisions to the rules Nov. 13, 2009. The final, official rules are expected to be officially published in early 2010. County governments will have two years from that time to update their shoreland development rules to be consistent with or exceed the state’s rules.")

(Office of Lakes & Watersheds, Dane County Land and Water Resources Department is also on Facebook.)

Interoperable Voice Radio Communication System

A major issue with regard to the Interoperable Voice Radio Communication System replacement project (DaneCom) is who will run it, make policies, decide to buy, and who pays what. Right now, the County seems intent having the 911 Board make that choice. We need something more to ensure our interests are protected. The lack of governance structure or an intergovernmental agreement threaten to take down this proposal.

In my view, that would be unfortunate because we do have to make some radio communication changes required by the FCC narrowbanding rules and the proposal (or a variant of it) would also improve our ability to communicate among police, fire, EMS, and public works across the county. But a mutually agreed upon governance structure is essential. And Dane County's proposal does not have that yet.

A County Communications Interoperability Governance Steering Committee has been appointed. Its mission:

The Dane County Communications Interoperability Governance Steering Committee (THE COMMITTEE) is committed to cooperatively addressing the challenge of communication governance, cost sharing and ownership of the soon to be upgraded radio and data infrastructures. This document describes the purpose, authority, outcomes, scope, operating principles, membership, and management by which the Committee will achieve success.

The Committee exists to address the challenges facing interdisciplinary communications governance, cost sharing and ownership across jurisdictions. It was established to create and support a centralized governance process, explore cost sharing opportunities and stimulate ownership based communications planning and implementation capacity for Dane County. The Committee’s goals are:

To act as oversight to the consultants.
To aid in gathering input
from multiple disciplines and multiple jurisdictions.
To collect from and provide both direct and in-direct information to multi-disciplines and jurisdictions by keeping them informed of purpose, progress and timelines related to governance, cost sharing and ownership of communications and data infrastructures.

It is necessary for public safety organizations to communicate and share critical voice and/or data information with other jurisdictions in day-to-day operations, natural disasters, emergency response scenarios, and terrorist incidents. Failure to accomplish the mission in each situation can result in the loss of lives and property.

The Committee exists to establish a partnership among the disciplines, public and private entities that need interoperable communications and data access in order to enhance interoperable communications capabilities.

The Committee provides a forum for each jurisdiction or discipline to discuss related public safety communications initiatives that may or may not impact the work of the Committee. This helps ensure individual projects have an opportunity to align with the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP).


  1. Have to say, I'm curious to see what the RTA proposes, but based on the mass-transit systems I've used elsewhere:

    a) I'm not sure exactly what Monona's benefit would be
    b) This is relatively pointless without being part of a comprehensive commercialization effort

    With regards to (a) the communities that benefit most, it is usually the end destination (downtown Madison) as well as any of the areas that feed into it. For example, if a hub existed in downtown (and corresponding commercial district) with mass transit coming in from Sun Prairie, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Fitchburg and Middleton, those communities would get a boost since living in those areas would be more desirable. Areas that are quite close to downtown already (ie, Monona) would gain less of a benefit, since we're within a 5-15min drive already. It wouldn't make sense to drive to the nearest transit point, wait for the train/bus/etc, and then spend 10-15min riding in.

    However, the biggest component of this is (b). Right now the commercial districts are spread out primarily in office parks south and west of the city along the beltline. Since they are so spread out, mass transit usually doesn't work (it would take my wife 1.5 hours and 2 bus transfers to get to her job, or a 25min car ride). What they need, though, is to build up the commercial areas in downtown (particularly on the eastern end of the Isthmus) and make it a true destination area for commuters. That would be the easiest, and simplest way to build up the downtown area, all while allowing people to live in the surrounding communities.

    Having a mass transit system that feeds into downtown Madison without ensuring that there is a vibrant commercial area around the destination could doom this to failure...

  2. Travis:

    The three largest employment centers in the Madison area are state government (most of it located downtown), the UW, and the UW Hospital. You could easily set up a commuter bus system that feeds in and out of the suburbs and outlying Madison neighborhoods, with only a few major stops downtown, that could be successful.

  3. Currently Monona's bus service provides limited service that almost exclusively serves commuters going downtown. No evening or weekend service. No connections with the Madison bus system.

    The RTA provides an opportunity for Monona to be integrated into the area's transit service.