Wausau Wisconsin


January 18, 2019

In October, 1983, the Wausau Common Council adopted a City Plan Commission resolution recommending approval of the City of Wausau Land Use Plan. This was the first large scale planning effort for the City of Wausau since 1965 when the Comprehensive Plan for the Wausau Area was completed. The land use plan was prepared by a 13-member Citizen Advisory Committee who worked with staff of the Marathon County Planning Department. While the plan addressed land use issues and goals on a city-wide basis, it primarily focused on land use trends, issues and recommendations for each of nine neighborhoods in the City. The level of citizen participation for this planning effort included neighborhood meetings in each of these neighborhoods as well as open meetings held by the Citizen Advisory Committee and a public hearing before the City Plan Commission. Most of the planning effort focused on the territory within the existing City limits, with only a cursory analysis of potential growth areas outside the City limits. However, only two years prior to completion of the land use plan, the City had completed its participation in the preparation of the Wausau Urban Area Sewer Service Plan to the Year 2000. The sewer service plan identified a cost effective, environmentally sound future growth area boundary for the City of Wausau as well as adjacent communities in the Urban Area.

The sewer service area plan was updated in 1993 and the land use plan was updated by the City’s Comprehensive Planning Committee. Their work on this plan was completed in 2000. The 1983 land use plan contained a number of pertinent community goals, objectives, and policies that were included in the comprehensive plan adopted by the Wausaun Common Council in January, 2006.

Below is a summary of the recommendations of the general land use plan section from the 1983 report. Nearly all of these recommendations have been implemented, including development of Wausau West Business and Industrial Park.

  1. Since the northwest and west sides of Wausau have the greatest supply of suitable vacant land, new residential development should be directed to those areas. This development should occur in a logical, orderly fashion, first by in-filling the scattered vacant parcels of land and then by staging growth contiguous to existing development.
  2. All new development within the City should be directed away from areas that are unsuitable in terms of shallow depths to bedrock, shallow depths to groundwater and steep slopes. If the City is petitioned to extend sewer and water service into these areas, the owner or developer should be assessed the additional cost of installing these utilities.
  3. To encourage growth, the City should extend sewer and water service to the vacant parcels of land within the City that are contiguous to existing development and should provide recreational facilities.
  4. Maintenance of the City’s existing housing stock should be encouraged by implementing the recommendations included in the Wausau Housing Study prepared by the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission in 1981.
  5. The City should direct commercial development to concentrated areas to facilitate interactions and should discourage strip commercial development.
  6. New industrial development in the City should be directed to the Wausau West Industrial Park and expansion of existing industrial zones should be allowed as long as it does not encroach into adjacent residential areas and as long as the expansion would be compatible with other adjacent uses.

In addition to the recommendations cited above, a number of issues were identified as part of the land use planning process that needed to be studied further. It was recommended that additional, more detailed study be given these items listed below as part of the City’s ongoing planning process. A careful reading of the following reveals that many of these issues have been studied and resolved, while others are still under investigation; only a few of these issues have yet to be thoroughly addressed. For example: an interchange at 72nd Avenue and State Trunk Highway “29" to serve the Industrial Park has been constructed; the suitability of the Holtz-Krause Landfill site for park purposes is still being analyzed; and a study of the flow of truck traffic through residential neighborhoods has yet to be undertaken.

  1. Analyze projected population growth and its effect on Wausau’s elementary schools.
  2. Review assessment practices as they apply to vacant land to determine if they deter land development.
  3. Study the need for additional recreational facilities in areas of existing and future residential development in the City, particularly in the Longfellow, Riverview, Jefferson and Stettin neighborhoods.
  4. Investigate the Holtz-Krause Landfill site to determine its suitability for park purposes.
  5. Determine which structures in the Central Business District are historically and culturally significant and worthy of preserving.
  6. Study possible improvements to Second Street in the Central Business District to help integrate it with the rest of the Central Business District.
  7. Study the availability and need for on- and off-street parking in the Central Business District.
  8. Investigate the feasibility of creating a historic district in the southern portion of the Franklin neighborhood.
  9. Study the problems of deteriorated rental units as they relate to student housing and absentee landlords in the Lincoln neighborhood and the other neighborhoods in the City.
  10. Study the residential zoning north of Schofield Avenue (Campus Drive) in the Thomas Jefferson neighborhood to determine if the density is suitable, especially considering the drainage problems, school capacity and street capacities in the area.
  11. Study the flow of truck traffic through residential neighborhoods.
  12. Investigate the feasibility of constructing an interchange from STH “29” within the Industrial Park, possibly at 72nd Avenue.
  13. Determine if the City-owned vacant land in the Industrial Park is suitable for development and if additional land is needed for the City’s long-term industrial needs.
  14. Study the vacant land north of Stewart Avenue and west of 60th Avenue extended, which is characterized by shallow bedrock, to determine if it is suitable for development.
  15. Study areas with possible environmental limitations, particularly the Bos Creek area, to determine specific land areas that should be retained in their natural state.
  16. Review the zoning code to determine if it contains barriers to the installation/construction of innovative designs that conserve energy or utilize alternative sources of energy.
  17. Study extraterritorial zoning to determine if its use by the City would be feasible.