Under this program, Eau Claire County is required by state law to prepare a comprehensive plan by 2010 and then update that plan at least every 10 years. The comprehensive plan will evaluate the interrelationships between various characteristics of the county, combining plans for each of these features into an overall plan. The following characteristics or features will be addressed: the transportation system (roads, railways, modes of transportation, etc.); available utilities and public services; natural resources; economic development; land use; housing; agricultural resources; cultural resources; and opportunities for intergovernmental cooperation. Funding for the initial development of a comprehensive plan will come from grants and the tax levy.
Solid Waste Management Planning
This program includes planning for all components of a solid waste management system including collection, processing, transporting, and disposal of solid waste. Priorities for solid waste management in Eau Claire County are: 1) to encourage the overall reduction of waste; 2) to encourage reuse of items, rather than disposal; 3) to encourage and support recycling of waste materials that can be recycled; 4) to encourage and support other alternatives to disposal including composting, incineration, etc.; and 5) to ensure that appropriate and environmentally sound disposal facilities are available for citizens' use.
Curbside and Drop-off Recycling Program
This program includes weekly curbside collection of recyclables from residents in urbanized areas, and 10 drop-off recycling stations for use by residents in rural areas. These services are provided for residents living in 1-4 unit dwellings. All refuse haulers are under contract to include curbside recycling with refuse collection. The county also contracts for collection and recycling of recyclables dropped off at the recycling stations. State law requires the county to provide these recycling services as the "Responsible Unit" for all of its municipalities. Funding comes from a combination of state grants; charges on refuse collection bills in the City of Eau Claire, and special charges on property tax bills in all other municipalities.
Brush Disposal Program
The county operates a brush disposal site under this program where residents can dispose of branches and twigs up to 6 inches in diameter and 6 feet long. The brush is ground into mulch, which citizens can pick up at no charge. Other yard wastes, including grass clippings and leaves, are not accepted at this site; citizens are encouraged to compost them or hire private businesses to collect and compost them for a fee. State law bans the disposal of yard waste in Wisconsin landfills, and the county must enforce this ban. The county is not required to provide yard waste collection or drop-off facilities. Part of the funds generated by state grants, and fees charged for the curbside and drop-off recycling program, are used to cover the costs.
Clean Sweep Program
This program provides Eau Claire County residents and businesses considered "very-small quantity generators" (VSQG's) with a place to drop off hazardous wastes. The waste collected is processed and shipped to special facilities designed for disposal or destruction of hazardous wastes. The county has a contract with a private vendor to provide these services. Currently, the program provides 4 dates per year to drop off hazardous wastes. Funding for the program comes from charges on garbage bills in the City of Eau Claire and special charges on property tax bills in all other municipalities. The county is not obligated to conduct a Clean Sweep program.
Under this program the county coordinates recycling events where residents can drop off appliances and electronics, which are banned from disposal in Wisconsin landfills, for a fee. The county provides locations and publicity for the events, which are run by private recycling businesses. These items, which include appliances such as refrigerators and water heaters, and electronic items such as computers and televisions, can be taken to recycling businesses all year; however, the cost to recycle them is reduced during the events. Part of the funds generated by state grants and fees charged for the curbside and drop-off recycling program are used to cover the costs of this program. The county is not required to provide these collections.
Rezonings and Conditional Use Permits Staff Reports and Recommendations
Public hearings must be held before approving or denying rezoning petitions or conditional use permit applications. Under this program, staff reports assessing rezoning petitions and conditional use permits are prepared and presented at public hearings. The reports evaluate whether or not requests are consistent with the purpose of the zoning ordinance and other applicable zoning provisions. Staff reports are not required, but the county must conduct public hearings for rezoning petitions and conditional use permit applications in accordance with state law, and findings for approval or denial must cite how they are consistent or inconsistent with the zoning code. Fees charged for petitions and applications cover the costs associated with preparing staff reports.
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Planning
This program involves the annual updating of a regional economic development plan formerly know as the Overall Economic Development Plan (OEDP). Staff works with the county CEDS committee, which convenes once a year to draw up a list of economic development projects from throughout the county to include in this multi-county plan. The list is forwarded to the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, which prepares the CEDS Plan. Projects included in this plan may be eligible for funding programs available through the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The county is not obligated to participate in this program.
Local Government Planning Assistance
Under this program, the Planning Division provides research assistance on planning issues of concern to local jurisdictions, and serves as a clearinghouse for information on most planning related matters including land use, economic development, housing, conservation and preservation of natural resources, outdoor recreation, transportation and demographics. Assistance provided has included compiling information, analyzing information and offering recommendations, assisting jurisdictions with planning procedures, and preparing land use plans. When comprehensive plans have been completed in accordance with requirements under Wisconsin's "Smart Growth" law, there may be more requests for assistance under this program. Eau Claire County is not required to provide planning assistance to local jurisdictions. This program is supported by the tax levy.
Farmland Preservation Planning
The Eau Claire County Farmland Preservation Plan was adopted in October, 1983, to implement the Farmland Preservation Program in Eau Claire County. Implementing the Farmland Preservation Program is a discretionary decision that provides farmers with eligibility for tax credits. The county is required to maintain an up-to-date plan so that farmers in Eau Claire County can maintain their eligibility for tax credits under the Farmland Preservation Program. The most recent update was approved by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors in 2015.
Special Planning (Outdoor recreation, neighborhood, census)
The planning division is called upon to conduct research and formulate recommendations for a wide variety of topics under this program, as needed or as time permits. Updating the Eau Claire County Outdoor Recreation Plan every 5 years is a routine task of this program, providing the county with continuing eligibility for state and federal funding programs. Other projects include the following: drafting a neighborhood plan for the Exposition Center/Lowes Creek County Park neighborhood; preparing office layout scenarios for reconfiguration of the Personnel/Finance/Purchasing Department's offices; annually updating census boundary maps for the U.S. Census Bureau. The county has no obligation to perform these tasks except for selected responsibilities during the decennial census.
Regional Planning Commission
West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC) is supported by Eau Claire County. This agency provides the following services for the county: annual updates of the county economic and population profile; transportation planning for the county for all transportation modes (auto, rail, air, pedestrian, bicycle) through the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO); administration of economic development loan programs for existing and new businesses in the county; annual update of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Plan; assistance to county jurisdictions in securing funding for public works projects. The agency also provides other planning services on a contractual basis. The county is not required to support WCWRPC. Funding for this agency comes from the county's general fund.