Two members of the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission who voted last winter for stronger new development rules have been replaced.
"After the vote, I received a number of calls from people in our organization who were upset," says Tom Clauder, head of the Dane County Cities and Villages Association. "The decision was made to make a change."
The group gets three picks on the 13-member commission, which sets county planning policy. It replaced Joe Chase, whose term expired, with John Murray. Chase had voted to ax the so-called flexibility factor allowing unfettered development within a designated urban service area.
Meanwhile, the Dane County Towns Association replaced Kris Hampton, who supported the new rules, with Phil Van Kampen.
Now environmental activists are urging Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz to retain commission members George Kamperschroer and Anne Sayers, who supported the rules. Kampershroer, the commission's vice chair, has come under fire for holding a February vote on the rules even though three commission members were absent.
In a recent email, Cieslewicz called the new rules "a bad decision for our environment" because they encourage developers to abandon projects within the service area and look for land in rural areas instead. He added that "the process by which the decision was made has been damaging to the new [planning commission] as an institution."
Caryl Terrell of the Sierra Club met with Cieslewicz last week to persuade him that, as acting chair, Kamperschroer was obligated to allow the issue to come to a vote: "I think the mayor hadn't really thought about the position George was in."
Terrell worries that losing Kamperschroer and Sayers could weaken the commission's environmental stance. "We've already lost two advocates," she says. "The Towns Association and Cities and Villages moved quickly. It's a good sign that the mayor hasn't just done a quick assessment of the situation and made his decision."