Wisconsin Crimes book

by Professor Brian W. Ohm  

2022 edition, 405 pages, $45.00


Across Wisconsin, issues related to community growth and change continue to be an important focus of debate in many local communities. This book is meant to serve as both an educational tool and a reference work to help inform that debate. The book updates the earlier edition of Wisconsin Land Use & Planning Law published by the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2013.

"This publication is a perfect example of the Wisconsin Idea. Brian Ohm works closely with Wisconsin professionals, officials, and actual citizens on these land use issues."

Jini Jasti, Associate Dean for External Affairs, University of Wisconsin Law School

Chapter 1 provides an overview of the planning process. Chapter 2 reviews the role of the plan commission and other local entities involved in local planning. Chapter 3 summarizes the various types of plans related to local community development, with the most attention paid to the local comprehensive plan. Chapter 4 explores efforts to encourage local communities to follow the guidance provided by the plans they prepare by requiring consistency between various plan implementation tools and the plan. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 provide an overview of some of the important plan implementation tools, particularly the most common tools of zoning and subdivision regulations. The final chapter in the book, Chapter 8, provides a summary of the federal and state constitutional framework for the regulation of land use.


Brian W. Ohm is a professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches planning law. He also teaches the Land Use Controls Course in the UW Law School and holds a joint appointment in the UW-Madison Division of Extension where he serves as the state specialist in the area of planning and land use law. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, he practiced law for a large Minneapolis law firm and served as in-house counsel for the Metropolitan Council, the regional governing body for the Twin Cities. He has an undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College and a Master of Arts and Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Chapter 1: Introduction to Community Planning

  • Community Planning in Wisconsin
  • An Historical Context for Planning Law
  • Why Planning Is Worth the Time and Money
  • Attributes of an Effective Plan
  • Preparing a Plan for Planning
  • Issues Prior to Beginning the Planning Process
  • Budgeting Issues
  • Basic Steps in the Planning Process

Chapter 2: The Plan Commission

  • Plan Commission Structure and Functions
  • Convening and Conducting Meetings and Hearings
  • Due Process
  • Other Bodies Involved in Community Planning
  • Qualities of a Good Plan Commissioner
  • Ethical Issues

Chapter 3: Types of Plans

  • Comprehensive Plans
  • The Idea behind Comprehensive Planning
  • The Process for Adopting Comprehensive Plans
  • Adopt the Plan by Ordinance
  • Consistency
  • State Funding for Preparing Comprehensive Plans
  • Master Plans–Pre-1999 Provisions
  • County Development Plans–Pre-1999 Provisions
  • Relation of County Plans to Municipal Plans
  • Extraterritorial Issues
  • Regional Master (Comprehensive) Plans
  • Housing Affordability Reports
  • Other Types of Plans

Chapter 4: Exploring the Concept of “Consistency” 

  • Intent of the Consistency Requirement
  • History of the Consistency Issue
  • The Nature of the Plan and the Consistency Analysis
  • Dermining Consistency
  • Actions Required to Be Consistent with the Comprehensive Plan

Chapter 5: Zoning

  • General Zoning Powers and Responsibilities
  • Developing a General Zoning Ordinance
  • Basic Content of a Zoning Ordinance
  • Formal Processing of the Zoning Ordinance
  • Amending the Zoning Ordinances
  • Limits to Local Zoning
  • Administering a Zoning Program
  • Variations to Traditional Zoning
  • Judicial Review of Zoning Decisions
  • Special Types of Zoning

Chapter 6: Subdivision/Land Division Regulations

  • Regulating the Division of Land
  • The Evolution of Subdivision Controls in Wisconsin
  • Subdivision Powers and Responsibilities
  • Condominium Subdivisions
  • Local Subdivision Review Process
  • Subdivision Design Standards
  • Financing Subdivision Improvements

Chapter 7: Other Laws Affecting Community Planning

  • Temporary Moratoria
  • Vested Rights/Expiration Dates on Approvals
  • Local Government Fees
  • Agriculture
  • Wind and Solar Energy Facilities
  • Historic and Cultural Resource Preservation
  • Redevelopment
  • Aesthetic Controls
  • Municipal Boundary Issues

Chapter 8: The Federal and State Constitutional Framework

  • Takings
  • Due Process
  • Equal Protection
  • First Amendment

Lock Icon