Madison – Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Town of Windsor Chairman Alan Harvey today announced an understanding that Windsor has established a purchase of development rights (PDR) program that will protect Windsor’s Rural/Agricultural Preservation Area. Under a PDR program, a farmer is able to sell the development potential of his or her farm. The farm stays in production agriculture while the farmer gains some of its development value. The Town of Windsor has created the PDR program with initial funding of $500,000.
Harvey and Falk started discussions three weeks ago over concerns Falk raised that several proposed Windsor subdivisions in non-farmland preservation areas would generate strong development pressures on Windsor’s nearby very productive farming areas. Windsor officials and Falk agreed that the subdivisions could occur if Windsor balanced this growth by offering stronger protection of its farming area.
“With this PDR, we are able to both accommodate Windsor’s wishes for some planned urban development and yet permanently protect farming areas,” said Falk. “This is a terrific example of the type of approach towns can take to ensure protection of agriculture areas.”
“Everyone wins with this latest chapter of Dane County-Windsor cooperation,” said Harvey. “Planned economic development can occur, but balanced carefully with a much strengthened commitment protecting Windsor’s farmers and some of the state’s finest farmland. It’s about protecting our quality of life.” (Windsor and Dane County have previously worked closely together on the construction of the Sheriff’s Department Northeast Precinct facility and the Token Creek Conservancy project.)
In a memo to the Dane County Board (attached), Falk detailed her decision not to veto the Town’s petition (#9929) for a subdivision based on Windsor’s commitment to create a program to offer a “high and certain” degree of protection for Windsor’s Rural/Agricultural Preservation area. In addition, Falk’s memo states that she would not approve any more plans for Windsor subdivisions until the protection is in place.
At its May 19th meeting, the Town of Windsor Board responded by unanimously voting to establish a purchase of development rights program with an initial $500,000 of funding. In a letter to Falk dated May 20th, Town Board Chair Alan Harvey notes, “there was citizen comment from the floor strongly supportive of having a Windsor purchase of development rights program when the Board considered this agenda item.” After the Windsor Board’s vote, Harvey said,” This is a historic decision for Windsor.”
Windsor took action on this program for several reasons:
· The recently adopted Town of Windsor Comprehensive Plan: 2025 identified a farmland purchase of development rights program as a priority
· For the past 30 years, Windsor has had a policy of seeking “balanced growth” – allowing new commercial and residential development in carefully planned, limited areas in logical growth corridors, while balancing that growth with a commitment to protecting the area’s best farming areas and unique open space resources, like the Token Creek conservancy.
· The DeForest-Windsor annexation litigation settlement agreement requires that Windsor maintain its farmland preservation area east of Hwy. 51 and north of Windsor Road as a requirement for the 15-year boundary agreement between the two communities. Harvey said, “Windsor’s new program shows that Windsor is certainly committed to cooperating and making the settlement agreement work for the benefit of this community’s residents.”