Creating a built environment that meets with

local social values.


8.1     Land Use


Among the most effective tools a community possesses to influence its future environment and quality of life is the ability to control and direct future growth patterns through its zoning and development ordinances, and its provision of infrastructure to serve newly developing areas.  Through its zoning powers, the Town of Rushford has an opportunity to guide future growth in a manner that enhances its residents’ quality of life and fits within its future vision.  Misguided use of these tools, however, can lead to undesired results in terms of land use conflicts, inefficient service delivery, and a decreased quality of life, among other potential problems.  The foundation for sound decision making and implementation of these tools is a clear land use plan based upon sound planning principles and the community’s vision for its future.


This land use plan is intended to illustrate this vision and guide the future growth and development of the Town over the next 20 years and beyond.  It will serve as a guide for the Town Plan Commission and Town Board when making land use, zoning, and infrastructure related decisions.  It will also provide direction for private sector property owners and potential developers when making decisions about the future of their properties within the Town of Rushford.


The Town must study the suitability of land in order to effectively plan for efficient and environmentally sound growth.  Therefore, the land use analysis and future land use plan is not limited to properties within the Town’s existing developed areas, but looks beyond to consider areas that might be appropriate for growth over the next 20 years and beyond.  In order to ensure that sufficient growth areas are maintained to accommodate a reasonable level of development expansion, strategies must also be implemented to control the development of residential and commercial growth immediately surrounding key transportation corridors and environmentally sensitive areas.  At the same time, the Town of Rushford has expressed concerns about the impacts of urban development on rural properties, primarily having to do with storm water run off onto all properties.


The relationship between the Land Use Element and other plan elements is extremely important, and coordinating this information is essential in developing an effective Comprehensive Plan that is useful to the Town and its constituents. All of the eight other elements of this plan should influence the decision making process in the approval considerations of new development proposals. As time progresses this plan must be updated and coordinated with its balance in order to ensure that local development preferences are maintained. By statutory law this Comprehensive Plan must be updated at least once every ten years.



Existing Land Use


Existing development within the Town appears to have occurred in a fairly traditional fashion to this point.  With the exception of three residential clusters, in the cross-roads communities of Eureka, Wuakau and the residential concentration of Island Ave & Ferry Lane, new residential development has generally occurred on roadside parcels that have been split off of longtime farming operations. While relatively little “leap frog” development has occurred some concerns exist. As growth and economic changes in the “Fox Valley” region have occurred, traditional agricultural lands are slowly being divided into rural residential and “hobby farm” uses. A map illustrating the existing land use pattern within the Town illustrates how this pattern of development has contributed to slowly lining its roadways with residential uses. As these uses have become more common the local sense of place and rural character have suffered significant impact via visual aesthetics.


Existing Land Uses and Acreage in the Town of Rushford

Text Box: Town Zoning	Acreage
Residential (R)	107
Multi-family Residential (R-2)	30
Mobile Home (MH-1)	33
Commercial (C)	75
Industrial (I)	92
Waste Disposal (W)	16
Not Tagged (NT)	300
Farmland Preservation (A-1)	9,650
Agriculture (A-2)	4,712
Rural Residential (A-3)	310
Total=	15,324
County Zoning	Acreage
General Farming (A-2)	7,274
Community Business (B-2)	348
General Business (B-3)	28
Institutional and Recreational (P-1)	90
Rural Residential (R-1)	170
Suburban Residential (R-2)	42
Total=	7,954




Residential: Residential development within the Town has predominantly consisted of detached single-family homes of varying lot sizes.  The current Town zoning ordinance contains a total of two residential zones, the first of which is exclusively a single-family zone, the second of which allows for single family uses as well as a multi-family residential uses.  The R-1 Single-Family Residential District contains a minimum lot area requirement of 40,000 square feet, and minimum lot frontage requirement of 200 feet. The R-2 Multi-Family Residential District permits lots of 40,000 square feet with 200 feet of minimum frontage.


The distinction between these two zones is very important to consider and has potential implications for the Town in the future as the State’s Smart Growth Dividend Aid Program is finalized and implemented.  The Dividend Aid Program is scheduled to be implemented in 2005, and is structured such that communities that have adopted a smart growth plan and meet specified criteria earn “points” which are to be considered in the allocation of State funds.  Whether this means that a new funding source will be established or this will involve the reallocation of existing funds has not yet been determined.  The two criteria that have been established thus far to earn these points include the creation of lots less than ¼ acre in area, and the sale of new homes at less than 80% of the median housing costs for the County within which a community is located.  Given these parameters, the Town recognizes the possibility of establishing a sanitary district in the surrounding areas of Eureka and Waukau. These services could then allow for the reduction of the minimum lot size requirement within the R-1 zone to 10,000 square feet or less. A second consideration would be to make broader use of the R-2 zone to provide opportunities for development that can earn Smart Growth “points”.


Duplex and multi-family housing is present in a few scattered areas within the Town, but makes up a relatively small portion of the overall housing stock.  The need for additional senior housing was discussed at the public land use workshop, as well.  As the Housing plan element was discussed and developed, many issues regarding housing types, lot sizes, affordability, and specific housing needs were documented and prioritized. This element should be referenced for these details. With the changing nature of our society, communities are now faced with meeting the housing needs of a much more diverse spectrum of family types.  Single-parent households, empty nesters, and childless professionals, demanding alternatives to the large-lot, detached single-family home and its associated maintenance, are changing the dynamics of today’s housing market.  This Land Use Plan provides opportunities for the development of a diverse set of housing types in new neighborhoods in order to accommodate all family types and families of varying incomes.


It does this through its provision of a three level density standard for the siting of residential dwellings. These three zones are 1) the rural zone which will allow for a total density of one unit per 20 acres, 2) the transition zone which will allow for a total density of one unit per 2.5 acres, and 3) the encouragement zone which will allow for development to occur up to the carrying capacity of the site limitations. These density zones are based on the land under ownership as shown in the 2001 Winnebago County Plat book in order to determine how many units each property owner is eligible to construct from the date of adoption of this plan forward. Property owners with large acreage’s will be allowed to develop rural subdivisions but only if they utilize a cluster or conservation design subdivision technique.


Commercial:  Current commercial development is focused in the downtown areas of the cross-roads communities of Eureka and Waukau.  With the exception of the general store shop and several independent “garage” type businesses, the commercial businesses in the Town are each part of a business cluster along the main street corridors of Eureka and Waukau. These locations are highly suitable and highly visible in the town. Major transportation roadways bisect each of these communities making the existing businesses uses of these properties appropriate for continued use in this fashion and possible expansion in the future.


Another potential opportunity for expanding commercial services in the Wuakau area involves the newly improved Hwy 91/116, County M intersection site. With the lands abutting the North East and North West corners of the intersection already offering some commercial use, and the lands abutting the south East corner developing into a residential subdivision, opportunity to develop the South West corner into a major commercial area exists. If available, the site offers a good opportunity to invigorate economic activity in the downtown area with new development and an expanded array of commercial services for Town residents.


Agricultural lands: Agriculture is the predominant land use in the town. The current town zoning ordinance divides agricultural uses into three distinctive zones. A-1 “Farmland Preservation District” accommodates the designated uses of lands under the Wisconsin Farmland Preservation Act found in Chapter 91 of the Wisconsin State Statutes. Farm dwellings within the district must have a minimum of 40,000 square feet in area and a minimum of 200 feet of frontage. The intent of this district is to provide for the strict preservation and protection of farmlands allowing owners of parcels within this district eligibility for participation in the states farmland preservation program. The A-2 Agricultural District allows for all uses customarily incidental to general farming activities. District standards require a minimum of 40,000 square feet in area and 200 feet of frontage. It purpose is to conserve good farming areas and compatible or private uses, and to prevent the uneconomic and uncontrolled spread of residential development outside the available residential districts which might result in excessive cost to the township for premature provision of essential public improvements and services such as sewer, water and utilities.


The A-3 Rural Residential District is intended to provide a living area in combination with small scale farming activities along with residential growth. The district is limited in acreage to those parcels of five acres or less. Area regulations include a needed minimum of 43,000 square feet and 200 feet of frontage if no public sewer is available.





As noted within the Community Profile Report, a peak in the number of new lots created within the Town in the early 1980s led to increases in the number of new housing units constructed in the following years.  Since then, however, the number of newly created lots per year has slowed significantly. While the total number of new lots has slowed in historic terms, the creation of new lots continues at a steady pace today.


Developing population projections for small communities like the Town of Rushford is difficult due to the major influence that individual events and occurrences can have on the community, such as the addition or loss of a major employer or changes in elected officials and their attitudes toward growth.  As new development is platted and comes on the market, it is anticipated that the Town will experience a steady rate of growth, fueled by the area’s proximity to growing urban centers such as Oshkosh, and its good access to the regional transportation system.


A summery of local historical performance combine with census data predicts that the Town of Rushford will see the following impacts over the next twenty years.

Text Box: Predicted Growth Scenario	1990	1995	2000	2005	2010	2015	2020
Number of Housing Units	552	599	623	647	671	695	719
Persons Per Household	2.76	2.72	2.68	2.63	2.58	2.52	2.48
Population	1,361	1,383	1,427	1,458	1,479	1,498	1,513
Total Number of Parcels	1,546	1,669	1,709	1,759	1,809	1,859	1,909
Acres Per Parcel	14.57	13.50	13.03	12.49	11.99	11.53	11.10

By adopting this Comprehensive Plan and formulating a vision for its future, the Town will be in a better position to respond to future growth pressures if and when they occur.







Text Box: Number of Acres under Town Zoning Jurisdiction = 	15,324
Number of "Undevelopable" Acres in the Town     =	2,532.53
Development Limitation	Number of Acres	
Slopes greater than 12%	53	
Moderate Farmlands	1,198	
Prime Farmlands
Government Lands 	335
Total "Undevelopable"	2,532.53	

In addition to the potential impacts of demographic and socio-economic


projections the Town of Rushford is seeking to preserve a verity of natural and physical features which it values and/or recognizes places limitations on the potential for development. An analysis of these features, which include 1. prime farmland 2. Slopes in excess of 12 & ½%, 3. wetlands & flood plain 4. Governmental lands, found that 12,791.47 acres remain for potential development under the town’s zoning jurisdiction.


Land Use Plan



The future residential land use density map illustrates potential town residential growth over the next 20 years based upon existing conditions, discussions at public meetings and direction from the Planning Committee. At current and projected rates of development, the plan likely illustrates much more growth than the Town is likely to experience within the 20-year planning horizon under consideration. The Plan illustrates potential areas for new development as growth occurs in any one direction, but does not necessarily advocate or assume full build out of this area within this 20-year window.  Other than a general recommendation that new growth occur within and adjacent to the existing cross-roads community limits to maximize efficiency of land use and Town services, the Plan makes no recommendations as to which areas should develop sooner than others.


Consideration should be given as to whether or not the Town is interested in providing guidance and recommendations regarding the character of future residential development.  If efforts are made to develop properties at higher densities to achieve more efficient development patterns and in response to the Dividend Aid Program parameters, design issues within these neighborhoods may become more important.  The State’s Smart Growth statutes require that larger municipalities of over 12,500 population adopt Traditional Neighborhood Development and Conservation Subdivision Design provisions into their ordinance.  Although these provisions would not be required for the Town of Rushford, they are certainly options that could be considered and encouraged. Based upon existing conditions, discussions at public meetings and direction from the Planning Committee, these types of residential development standards are in deed desired and appropriate within the Town of Rushford.


The Plan illustrates a potential 35 to 40 acre commercial development at the southwest end of Waukau along the south side of State Highway 91, and a potential new access road to the development along the west side of County M.  Strong design standards for properties fronting on each of these Town entrances should be considered to ensure that these gateways into the community present a positive first impression. Design standards could be considered and imposed by the Town through deed restrictions if the Town is involved in the purchase and development of the property, through standards incorporated into a new zoning district written to regulate new commercial development, or through the designation of the entryway as an “overlay zone” containing standards for landscaping and site development for all properties along this portion of Highway 91. Together with standards for new commercial development and reinvestment in existing developed properties along these corridors, these elements will help provide an aesthetically pleasing entryway into this Town communities.



The plan also illustrates the redevelopment of existing residential uses into commercial uses within Eureka. In addition the plan calls for the creation of a senior housing complex on the northeast portion of Eureka, south of the Fox River. As with other developments within the township appropriate design standards should be applied to these developments to ensure that they blend with local land use patterns and establish a main street environment for local residents.


In the Utilities and Community Facilities Plan Element, consideration is given to necessary infrastructure improvements that may be needed to serve areas illustrated for potential development. One such consideration is the creation of a sanitary district. As noted above, the Town may wish to later amend the Comprehensive Plan in response to this information as warranted.


Land Use Goals:


Goal:  Ensure that development standards and ordinances are consistent with land use policies contained within the Comprehensive Plan.




Study current zoning and land division policies and regulations and update as needed to ensure consistency with the policies of the Smart Growth plan.


Consult the policies contained within the Comprehensive Plan prior to making decisions regarding capital improvements


Update the Town zoning ordinance to incorporate implementation tools identified within the Comprehensive Plan, as appropriate.


Goal:  Promote land uses, densities and regulations that result in efficient development patterns (traffic, public services, sewer, water, other).




Develop and implement design standards to encourage efficient development patterns incorporating interconnected street patterns and limited use of cul-de-sac streets in the Eureka and Waukau communities.


Work with Winnebago County to ensure that street transitions from the Town to the Town are compatible.


Allow new development to occur only at the densities as illustrated in the “future residential density” land use map.


Consider the adoption of a Cluster Development ordinance.


Consider amendment of the current residential zoning district regulations to permit smaller lots.


Adopt policies to ensure development of a good network of pedestrian routes between new neighborhoods and the existing Town corridors, particularly next to existing parks and future recreational areas.


Establish maximum driveway length limitations to limit the creation of flag lots.


Consider engineering review of new CSM’s and Subdivisions in order to maintain development standards and functional storm water drainage systems.






Goal:  Promote land uses, densities and regulations that result in the protection of valued resources and recognize existing physical limitations (prime farmland, slope, woodlands, water, other).




Review and incorporate the findings of the “developable land” analysis when making decisions on new development proposals.


Conduct site reviews on proposed developments and/or ask for sufficient documentation so as to ascertain potential impacts to the physical environment. Negotiate their protection.


Goal:  Foster commercial growth in the downtown business district(s).




Develop a marketing plan to aid in the recruitment of downtown businesses.


Explore and promote incentive options to encourage businesses to choose a downtown location.


Encourage downtown revitalization to enhance community character and downtown business climate.


Evaluate current zoning policies to ensure that traditional design concepts are promoted and observed.


Address any parking deficiencies in the downtown business area.


Identify potential funding sources to assist with planning and implementing downtown improvements.