In a March 26 interview, Gov. Jim Doyle stated that he wants to make sure the state Department of Natural Resources permits get issued in a timely manner. The governor was responding to a question about Sen. Neal Kedzie’s Green Tier bill, SB 61. In a nutshell, Kedzie’s bill would create a program that would grant civil enforcement immunity to large companies that self-report and rectify environmental problems within 90 days, provided the companies have a good record on environmental compliance. Doyle seemed to suggest that while Kedzie’s bill is a good bill, it can be improved by focusing on how the DNR can accelerate its permitting process. It can take months, sometimes years, for the DNR to issue a permit. These delays are needless and costly. Consider this: $7,000 is added to the cost of building a home for every year the home building process is delayed. Delays in issuing permits increase the cost of housing, making homeownership less affordable. The DNR permitting process could be accelerated and without additional cost to the state budget. There are four common-sense changes to the permitting process that would make it more timely:
- Clear and unambiguous permit requirements;
- Published deadlines for acting on permit requests so home owners and builders are not left in the dark for months or years;
- Deadlines that are accompanied by sanctions when not met; and
Mentioned in this Article Gov. Jim Doyle Metropolitan Builders Association Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Representatives Sen. Neal Kedzie,
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An option for a single permit that would cover multiple requirements, since many permits issued by the DNR overlap with permits issued by other agencies.
Sensible regulatory oversight protects the waterways, green spaces, flora and fauna that make Wisconsin a uniquely beautiful place to live. A predictable, timely permitting process would both protect the environment and help keep homes affordable. Gov. Doyle should weigh these changes as he considers how best to improve the permitting process at the DNR. SWIFTS initial success Last week, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Freeway Advisory Committee voted to recommend to the full Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission a plan to reconstruct the freeways in the metropolitan Milwaukee area. The plan approved by the Advisory Committee includes a recommendation for 127 miles of additional lanes. SEWRPC staff had shied away from the controversial lane-expansion provision because it had not appeared to garner consensus from the group. However, a majority of the Advisory Committee voted in favor of an amendment offered by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker to maintain all 127 miles of additional lanes, instead of paring the recommendation back to 108 miles of additional lanes. This victory for those concerned about the safety and economic development of Southeastern Wisconsin came in part because of the coordinated efforts of the business community through the Safety With Increased Freeway Transportation Coalition. Thanks goes to Patti Wallner, president of the Waukesha Area Chamber of Commerce, who worked tirelessly the week leading up to the vote to organize the business community so its voice could be heard in the freeway-reconstruction debate. More than 200 companies signed on in less than a week. However, the vote by the ad hoc Advisory Committee is only the first step in a long process. Next, the Planning and Research Committee of the commission will meet to examine the plan and make a recommendation to the full commission. Then the full SEWRPC board will m
eet to make its final recommendation. It is critical that the business community not rest on its laurels but continue to make its views known. Any business that is concerned about how the freeway is reconstructed but has not joined SWIFT should forward to me the names of the company and company representative as well as an e-mail address. They will be forwarded to Wallner to be added to the growing rolls of the SWIFT Coalition. Southeastern Wisconsin’s future economic development is at stake. Matt Moroney is the executive director of the Metropolitan Builders Association and can be reached at 262-436-1122 or by email.