Legal battle brewing over CARPC budget request

County officials have called out the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission (CARPC) and initiated legal action after the commission recently voted for a significant increase in its 2015 budget that county officials say is against the law.

CARPC, which serves as the regional planning and water quality management planning entity for the county, voted 8-3 for just over $1.3 million in funding for 2015 at its July 10 meeting, a significant increase of around $600,000 from this year’s budget. CARPC is governed by a policy board with 13 appointed commissioners.

In response, the Dane County Board, responsible for funding the commission, last week unanimously approved a resolution deeming the budget request “unreasonable,” laying out the grounds for a legal challenge to what amounts to a 76 percent increase.

County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said the board is in “no position” to add another $600,000 in taxes.


County board votes down radio tower

A proposal to build a radio tower in the Town of Rutland was shot down again last week by county officials.

For the second time in three years, the Dane County Board of Supervisors voted last Thursday not to rezone 15.5 acres of land near Old Stage Road where Tomah-based Magnum Communications wants to erect a 486-foot tower to service Stoughton’s first FM radio station.

In a move that was largely expected, the board backed earlier votes by Town of Rutland leaders and a county committee not to rezone the property owned by long-time area farmers and siblings David Soldwedel and Sue Wollin.

Before the vote, Magnum’s attorney, Michael Screnock, told the board they should send the issue back to the county’s zoning and land regulation committee for a second look. He argued that the denial by town and county officials flouts a 2013 change in state law that prohibits municipalities from refusing new broadcast towers unless they would harm public health or safety.


Commission dissects hospital parking plan

Renderings courtesy Royal Oak and Associates. The City of Stoughton Planning Commission would like to see access to Stoughton Hospital maintained on Ridge Street, left. The commission forwarded their approval of a separate Church Street parking lot expansion near East Main Street.

Stoughton Hospital might not get the parking lot changes it has been hoping for.

The city’s Planning Commission altered some of the proposed plans, including turning a street into a dead-end, at its meeting Monday.

The hospital had asked the city to discontinue part of Ridge Street, which drivers often use to travel through the hospital campus, as part of the remodeling of its parking lot. But that was tempered by the commission after members had concerns about traffic flow and excess vehicles on neighboring roads.

The commission split apart some of the proposals, recommending some items and tabling others. Parts of the plan will come back to the commission next month despite the hospital’s hopes to get started on the project in September.


‘Amend’ will go to voters

Stoughton voters will be asked in November if they support an effort to amend the U.S. Constitution and overturn a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that essentially gave corporations the same rights as citizens.

A referendum will be on the November ballot asking if voters agree that corporations and unions should not have the same rights as individuals and that spending money is not a form of speech. That would mean corporations, unions and other associations would not be subject to protections guaranteed under the First Amendment regarding political speech.


State reps, senators vie for local votes in partisan primary

Perhaps you’ve heard there’s a gubernatorial seat up for grabs in about four months.

While that statewide race will draw many of the headlines leading up to the November election, local seats for the state assembly and senate are also being contested. 

Voters will be able to cast ballots Aug. 12 during the partisan primary election to see who will be on the final ballot come November.

Stoughton area voters will be able to cast votes for Assembly District 43 and Senate District 15.

The towns of Dunkirk and Rutland are covered by A.D. 43. Republicans Herschel Brodkey and Leon L. Hebert are vying for a spot on the November ballot against democrat incumbent Andy Jorgensen.


Upon further review

Former UW football coach Bret Bielema may have moved on long ago for the supposedly greener pastures of Arkansas, but his unsold house in the Town of Dunn is still making local headlines.

Prompted by a neighbor’s complaint about a low assessment earlier this year, the town’s board of review re-set the house’s value last Tuesday, a move that will raise the taxes for the coach who left Madison amongst some controversy in December 2012.

Town of Dunn clerk Cathy Hasslinger said the initial assessment of $809,000 did not include more than 2,000 square feet of finished space on the lower level. Town assessor Dean Peters recommended the assessment be adjusted to $1,338,000, and the board of review voted unanimously to take his advice. 


Arrest made in hate crime case

A 21-year-old DeForest man has been arrested in connection with a hate crime committed against a Stoughton family in April.

According to a news release from the Stoughton Police Department, Matthew J. Cimaroli was arrested for felony “Threats to Injure or Accuse with a Hate Crime Enhancer.”

A letter was sent to the Hale family in Stoughton on April 16. The letter contained a historic picture of two young, black males being lynched and the words “Your Days Are Numbered” typed on the letter. Police said the letter was apparently directed toward Javon Hale, who had attended Stoughton High School from 2009 to 2012 but moved to Sun Prairie and graduated from Sun Prairie High School in 2013. 


County committee backs town’s veto of radio tower

A Tomah company’s years-long quest to erect a 486-foot radio tower in Rutland hit another roadblock last week.

Backing a June 12 vote by Town of Rutland officials, members of the Dane County Zoning and Land Regulation committee last Tuesday voted unanimously not to rezone a 15.5-acre parcel near Old Stage Road, where Magnum Communications wants to build the tower to service Stoughton’s first FM station.

Before the vote, an attorney for Magnum said the town and county were ignoring a 2013 change in state law that prohibits municipalities from rejecting broadcast towers unless they would harm public health and safety.


Calls increase, but major crime drops

Arrests for operating while intoxicated have decreased from 127 two years ago to 79 in 2013.

Stoughton police fielded several thousand more calls for service this year, but major crime categories saw reductions in 2013.

Police recorded a drop in OWIs, drug offenses and thefts, while disorderly conduct calls, 911 calls and domestic disturbances saw an increase, according to the department’s annual crime statistics.

In 2013, the department handled 29,814 incidents. That’s a nearly 28 percent increase from 2011.

The total number includes 911 calls, as well as public services like unlocking cars and low-cost fingerprinting. Certain categories of crime have ebbs and flows, but the overall trend shows that police are getting more calls for service.

Despite the overall increase, however, many major crimes decreased.

OWI decreases


Hospital asks to close road, reconfigure parking lots

Rendering courtesy Royal Oak and Associates. Closing part of Ridge Street would allow Stoughton Hospital to reconfigure its parking lot and provide better access to the health care facility.

Stoughton Hospital is asking the city to close part of Ridge Street in order to reconfigure its parking lot so it can provide better access to its building.

Several public hearings related to the request are slated for Monday, July 14, at the city’s Planning Commission meeting. The multi-step process requires a few separate approvals from both the commission and the Common Council.

According to documents filed with the city, the hospital would like to close roughly 400 feet of Ridge Street from Giles Street toward the hospital and west toward Lynn Street. The request area borders the existing hospital parking lot near the building.

By closing the street to the public, the hospital would be able to reconfigure its parking lot and add 11 stalls for a total of 95. The new lot would reduce pavement surface by about 1,600 square feet.

The hospital also plans to expand its Church Street parking lot. This project would add 48 stalls for a total of 87.