by Professor Brian W. Ohm

2013 edition, 283 pages, $33.00

The University of Wisconsin Law School announces the publication of Wisconsin Land Use & Planning Law by Professor Brian Ohm. Professor Ohm’s academic career at the University of Wisconsin has emphasized working closely with local Wisconsin communities on land use and planning issues. His efforts in writing this publication, teaching students in the classroom, and working with Wisconsin professionals, officials, and citizens on actual land use and planning challenges are clear evidence of the vitality of the “Wisconsin Idea.”

This new publication provides a current look at the legal framework for land use planning and regulation in Wisconsin communities. It is meant to serve as an educational tool and a reference work to assist in local decision-making involving land use issues. The book covers legislative, administrative, and judicial developments through July 1, 2013.

Special Features of the New Book

  • Provides a practical overview of the planning process in Wisconsin
  • Details local government bodies involved in planning, particularly the plan commission
  • Summarizes the types of plans related to local development
  • Describes efforts to encourage communities to follow land use plans, with emphasis on consistency between plan implementation tools and the plan
  • Provides valuable advice on the role of citizens in the planning process
  • Explains zoning and subdivision regulations and other planning tools
  • Summarizes the federal and state constitutional framework for regulating land use


Brian Ohm is a professor in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches planning law. He holds a joint appointment with Cooperative Extension of the University of Wisconsin-Extension where he serves as the state specialist in planning and land use law. Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin, he practiced law for a Minneapolis law firm and served as inhouse counsel for the Metropolitan Council, the regional governing body for the Twin Cities.


Chapter 1 Introduction to Community Planning

  • Community Planning in Wisconsin
  • 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
  • What Makes a Good Plan Commissioner?
  • Ethical Issues
  • State Code of Ethics for Local Officials
  • Common Law Ethical Rules–Bias and Prejudgment
  • Ethical Principles in Planning

Chapter 3 Types of Plans

  • Comprehensive Plans; Contents
  • What Is Comprehensive Planning?
  • The Process for Adopting Comprehensive Plans
  • Adopting a Plan by Ordinance–What Does It Mean
  • State Funding for Preparing Comprehensive Plans
  • Master Plans–Pre-1999 Provisions
  • County Development Plans–Pre-1999 Provisions
  • How Do City, Village, and Town Comprehensive Plans Relate to County Plans?
  • Extraterritorial Issues
  • Regional Master (Comprehensive) Plans

Chapter 4 Exploring the Concept of “Consistency” Under Wisconsin Law

  • Intent of the Consistency Requirement
  • History of the Consistency Issue
  • The Nature of the Plan and the Analysis to Determine Consistency
  • Actions Required to Be Consistent with the Comprehensive Plan
  • Official Mapping
  • Local Subdivision Regulations
  • General Zoning
  • County/Town Zoning
  • Extraterritorial Zoning
  • Zoning of Shorelands or Wetlands in Shorelands

Chapter 5 Zoning

  • General Versus Special Purpose Zoning
  • General Zoning Powers and Responsibilities
  • Developing a General Zoning Ordinance
  • Preparing the Ordinance Draft
  • Limitations on Zoning for Certain Uses
  • Formal Processing of the Ordinance
  • Amending Zoning Ordinances
  • General Principles Applicable to Zoning Amendments
  • 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

  • Interim Control Ordinances (Temporary Moratoria)
  • Impact Fees
  • Agriculture
  • Historic Preservation
  • Redevelopment
  • Aesthetic Controls
  • Municipal Boundary Issues: Annexation, Incorporation, and Intergovernmental Agreements

Chapter 8 The Federal and State Constitutional Framework

  • Federal Takings Jurisprudence
  • Wisconsin Takings Jurisprudence
  • Due Process
  • Equal Protection
  • First Amendment

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