Town of Shelby, Wisconsin

Land Use Planning

Long Range Comprehensive Planning

Planning Commission Members

Keith Butler, Chairman - W4727 Green St - 789-4811 -

Tim Padesky, Town Board Rep - N980 Bloomer Mill Rd - 780-1322 -

Mary Faherty - W5840 State Road 33 - 787-6361 -

Joyce Wichelt - W5802 Janisch Road - 788-4602 -

Tom Sleik - 4082 Glenhaven Drive - 788-6229 -

Mike Kendhammer - N1337 Lesky Road - 787-0797 -

Marlin Helgeson - W5110 Kearns Court - 788-7544 -

Brian Benson, Alternate- W5301 Horseshoe Place - 608-385-4612 -



Town of Shelby
Comprehensive Plan
Town of Shelby, La Crosse County, WI
Schreiber / Anderson Associates, Inc
Town of Shelby Comprehensive Plan
Table of Contents
  1. Introduction and Summary of Findings 1-1
    About this Report 1-1
    History and Setting 1-1
    Summary of Key Findings 1-2
    Demographic Analyses 1-2


  2. Housing 2-1
    Existing Conditions 2-1
    Household Growth Projections 2-5
    Housing Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations 2-6


  3. Transportation 3-1
    Existing Road Network 3-1
    Transportation of Goods and Freight 3-3
    Analysis on the Regional Movement of People 3-4
    Analysis on the Local Movement of People 3-5
    Transportation Plans 3-6
    Planned and Scheduled Improvements 3-7
    Transportation Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations 3-7


  4. Utilities and Community Facilities 4-1
    Existing Conditions 4-1
    Timetable for Expansion of Utilities and Community Facilities 4-6
    Utilities and Community Facilities Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations 4-7


  5. Agricultural, Natural, and Cultural Resources 5-1
    Agricultural Resources 5-1
    Natural Resources 5-2
    Cultural Resources 5-6
    Agricultural, Natural, and Cultural Resources Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations 5-7


  6. Economic Development 6-1
    Existing Conditions 6-1
    Employment Projections 6-5
    Strengths and Weaknesses for Economic Development 6-6
    Economic Development Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations 6-6


  7. Intergovernmental Cooperation 7-1
    Existing Relationships 7-1
    Existing or Potential Conflicts 7-3
    Intergovernmental Cooperation Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations 7-3


  8. Land Use 8-1
    Introduction 8-1
    Existing Conditions 8-1
    Opportunities for Redevelopment 8-4
    Land Use Projections 8-4
    Future Land Use Policies 8-5
    Future Land Use Districts 8-6
    Land Use Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations 8-7


  9. Implementation 9-1
    Summary of Key Planning Issues and Opportunities 9-1
    Regulatory Implementation Tools 9-2
    Non-Regulatory Implementation Tools 9-4
    Consistency Among Plan Elements / 20-Year Vision 9-6
    Plan Adoption, Monitoring, Amendments, and Update 9-6
    5-Year Action Plan 9-6


List of Maps (Located in Appendix)

Regional Context 1.1

Road Network by Jurisdiction 3.1

Road Network by Type 3.2

Utilities 4.1

Community Facilities 4.2

Schools and School Districts 4.3

Soil Classifications by Capability 5.1

Agricultural Land Use 5.2

Environmental Features 5.3

Bluffland Protection Areas 5.4

Existing Land Use 8.1

Zoning 8.2

Development Constraints 8.3

Future Land Use 8.4

About this Plan

The Town of Shelby Comprehensive Plan has been developed to provide background and direction for a variety of land use decisions. Included in this plan are a variety of chapters, or elements, that provide baseline information and specific goals, objectives, and recommendations specific to each element. This plan should be used by the Plan Commission to make decisions about growth and development over the next 20-year period. Periodic updates are required to ensure this plan remains current over time. Specific requirements and procedures for use and maintenance of this plan are provided in the Implementation Element.

Elements of this plan include:



Issues and Opportunities






Utilities and Community Facilities


Agricultural, Natural, and Cultural Resources


Economic Development


Intergovernmental Cooperation


Land Use





Setting and History

The Town of Shelby is an urban town with rural areas located in the southwest corner of La Crosse County. The City of La Crosse shares an irregular border, directly west of the Town. The Mississippi River borders the western edge of the Town, the Town of Greenfield is the eastern border, and Vernon County is the southern border. The towns of Medary and Barre border Shelby to the north.

While the area's original inhabitants were Native Americans, Mormons settled in the mid 1800's on what today is called Mormon Coulee and Mormon Creek. Following the Mormons, German and Swiss immigrants settled in the Town during the 1850's and 1860's, bringing with them great agricultural skill.

Agriculture has a long standing history in the Town, particularly along the Mormon Coulee where hay, oats, potatoes, and fruit trees have all been important crops over the past one hundred years. Productive agricultural land remains to this day, however, a majority of land within the Town is no longer utilized for agricultural purposes, giving way to a more urbanized environment.

The Town of Shelby was a growing area from the late 1950's to 1980 with a population ranging from 7,000 to 8,000 during this period. More recently, annexation has reduced the Town's population to 4,687 in 2000. Overall, the southern portion of La Crosse County slowed in population growth due to large-scale infrastructure improvements (primarily highways) in northern areas over the past two decades.

Today, Shelby can be described as an urbanized town with distinct urban, suburban, and rural areas. Rural and agricultural areas remain in the eastern portion of the Town near and adjacent to extreme topographical areas. The western portion of the Town contains a more urbanized landscape, especially in areas where it borders the City of La Crosse.

Summary of Key Findings

Growth Projections & Management

Several factors (including proximity to a large urban center, and highway access) indicate that there will be increasing growth pressure in the Shelby area.

Conservative growth estimates project 85 new homes by 2025, more aggressive estimates show up to 500 homes during that time.

Projections show that the Town could expect between 140 and 580 acres of new development by 2025.

The projections are based on historic growth trends; however, local policy will help determine the amount, location, character, and quality of growth.


72% of Shelby's housing units were built before 1980. Shelby is currently not seeing the same housing growth rate as found in the Holmen/Onalaska area.

The Town has a median home value significantly higher than the County.

Shelby's housing vacancy rate is less than comparable Towns surrounding La Crosse.


Town residents have high levels of educational attainment compared to the County, overall with 45% of residents having a bachelor's degree, or higher.

50% of all residents work in management or professional occupations

The median commute time for Shelby residents is 17 minutes

Less than 1% are employed in agriculture.

Natural and Cultural Resources

Shelby has over 8,100 acres of woodlands. 379 acres are enrolled in the State's Managed Forest Program.

The Town has seven (7) sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places and six (6) sites designated on the State Register of Historic Places.

The Town has recently updated its park plan, which includes a system of sixteen (16) parks.


Prime farm soils that are best suited for growing a variety of crops (Classes I, II) are located in lowland areas throughout the township.

In Shelby, Census 2000 indicated there were only 32 people living on farms, and only 22 residents working on farms.

Regionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that farm earnings in La Crosse County decreased by 48 percent between 1990 and 1998, which was a greater decline than in the State of Wisconsin (26 percent) or the United States (2 percent) over this same time period.


Demographic Analyses

This section includes comparisons to other local and regional governments. They are included to provide a better understanding of the trends emerging locally and within the County or State. Comparables include:


Town of Medary: also borders the City of La Crosse, is subject to same development pressures;


City of La Crosse: borders the Town, provides the local basis for "urban" characteristics on growth and service provision;


La Crosse County: regional governmental jurisdiction, contains uniform topographical characteristics and a variety of local governmental entities for comparison.



Population Trends and Forecasts

The population of Shelby has fluctuated over the years. During the 1960's, the population decreased by sixteen (16) percent, probably due to an annexation by the City of La Crosse. The population then rose again, only to experience an eleven percent drop during the 1980's for the same reason. The most recent population estimates show that Shelby's population decreased by six (6) percent during the 1990s. Projections from the Wisconsin DOA indicate that the population will remain stable. The DOA considers and monitors changes and patterns in fertility, mortality, and migration. DOA's projections indicate modest growth in towns of Barre (+234 people) and Greenfield (+113 people).

Table 1.1: Historic Population and Growth Projections





  1980 1990 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025
Town of Shelby 5,620 5,002 4,687 4,676 4,655 4,613 4,589 4,617
Town of Medary 1,794 1,539 1,463 1,493 1,519 1,538 1,562 1,604
City of La Crosse 48,347 51,140 51,818 51,718 51,507 51,059 50,810 51,141
La Crosse County 91,056 97,904 107,120 110,302 113,211 115,538 118,246 122,291


Source: US Census Bureau, 2000 and State of Wisconsin Department of Administration, 2005



Age and Gender

According to the U.S. Census, conducted in 2000, the median age for the Town of Shelby is 41.9 years, which is higher than La Crosse County's median age of 35.2 and the State's median age of 36. The median age for males within the Town is 41.2, while females have a median age of 42.7. Table 2.2 outlines the Town's population by age group. Nearly thirty percent (30%) of Town residents are under the age of 20, while an additional twenty-five percent (25%) are over age 55. Forty-five percent (45%) of the Town's population falls between the ages of 25 and 55 years old.


Table 1.2: Population by Age, 2000



Town of Shelby

Town of Medary

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County










Under 5 Years









5 to 19 Years









20 to 24 Years









25 to 44 Years









45 to 54 Years









55 to 74 Years









75 Years and Over









Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000



A majority of Shelby residents are white. Residents of Asian descent comprise nearly two percent (2%) of the Town's population, which makes them the second largest race population in the Town. The racial composition is similar to that of the County.


Table 1.3: Population by Race, 2000


Town of Shelby

Town of Medary

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County



















Black or African American









American Indian and Alaska Native


















Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander









Some Other Race









Two or More Races









Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000


Income Levels

Table 1.4 depicts three measures of income for the Town and surrounding communities.


Median Household Income considers income for all people who occupy a housing unit whether or not they are related.


Median Family Income considers income for people who reside together and are related by birth, marriage, or adoption. It is typically higher than the Median Household Income.


Per Capita Income is the total income of the area divided by the total population.


Table 1.4: Median Household Income, Median Family Income, and Per Capita Income, 2000



Median Household Income

Median Family Income

Per Capita Income

Town of Shelby $64,890 $76,559 $32,899
Town of Medary $57,431 $65,469 $25,395
City of La Crosse $31,103 $43,047 $17,650
La Crosse County $39,472 $50,380 $19,800
State of Wisconsin $43,791 $52,911 $21,271


Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000


The Town of Shelby has no families that are living in poverty; however, one percent (1%) of individuals are living in poverty. This rate of poverty is low compared to surrounding Townships and the County. La Crosse County has over five percent (5%) of families and ten percent (10%) of individuals living in poverty.


This element provides a baseline assessment of Shelby's current housing stock. Following these conditions analyses are a series of goals, objectives, and recommendations which have been developed to increase, enhance, or sustain the housing stock in the town.

Existing Conditions

Housing Units

Table 2.1 depicts the number of housing units within the Town of Shelby as tabulated by the U.S. Census in 2000. The table also outlines the percentage of housing units that are occupied by the home owner, the percentage of units that are rented, and the percentage of units that are vacant. In the Town, there are 1,646 housing units that are owner occupied, 125 units that are rental occupied, and 46 that are vacant. The Town of Shelby estimates that in 2006 there were 1,970 units.

Table 2.1: Housing Occupancy, 2000

Owner Occupied

Renter Occupied

Vacant Units







Town of Shelby








Town of Medary








City of La Crosse








La Crosse County








Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000


* Housing Unit - A house, an apartment, a mobile home or trailer, a group of rooms, or a single room occupied as separate living quarters, or if vacant, intended for occupancy as separate living quarters.


Age of Housing Structures

Table 2.2 provides a detailed analysis of when housing units were constructed within the Towns of Shelby, Campbell, and Medary as well as La Crosse County. It is important to note that a large majority (72.4%) of the housing within the Town of Shelby was constructed prior to 1980.


Table 2.2: Age of Housing Structures, 2000


Town of Shelby

Town of Medary

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County

Total Occupied Units*

































































Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000


* Occupied housing unit - A housing unit is classified as occupied if it is the usual place of residence of the person or group of people living in it at the time of enumeration.


Types of Housing Units

Table 2.3 outlines the various number of units that are available within a housing structure. According the 2000 U.S. Census, in the Town of Shelby, single family detached homes are the most common type of housing. Mobile homes in Shelby are the second highest type of unit, with 6.4% of all units falling into this category, which is comparable to the Town of Medary (6.7%) and La Crosse County (6.1%) overall. More recent estimates by the Town indicate Shelby has 1,970 housing units, of which 277 (14%) are classified as mobile homes.


Table 2.3: Type of Unit in Structure 2000


Town of Shelby

Town of Medary

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County

Total Occupied Units











































































Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000



Housing Values

Table 2.4 outlines the values of owner occupied housing units within the Town of Shelby in 2000. During the time of enumeration, the median home value in the Town was $129,500. The Town's housing unit median value was $33,500 higher than the County median home value. These data show greater than 60% of the housing units in the Town of Shelby are valued between $50,000 and $150,000.

Table 2.4: Median Value and Value of Owner Occupied Units, 2000


Town of Shelby

Town of Campbell

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County

Total Owner Occupied Units*





Median Value

































































Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000

* Owner-occupied housing unit - A housing unit is owner occupied if the owner or co-owner lives in the unit even if it is mortgaged or not fully paid for.



Affordability of Housing

The following tables depict how much residents in the Town of Shelby spend on housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) generally recommends that a person/family should spend no more than 30% of their income on housing costs, such as a mortgage or rent.

Nearly 50% of Shelby's homeowners spend less than 15% of their income on home related expenses. Approximately 11% of owners pay more than 30% of their income towards housing expenses. Renters in the Town of Shelby tend to pay a higher percentage of their income on housing, as 23.6% of renters pay more than 30% of their income towards their housing costs.


Table 2.5: Percent of Income Spent on Owner Occupied Units, 2000

Less than 15 percent

15 to 30 percent

30 percent or more

Not computed









Town of Shelby










Town of Medary










City of La Crosse










La Crosse County










Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000


Table 2.6: Percent of Income Spent on Renter Occupied Units, 2000

Less than 15 percent

15 to 30 percent

30 percent or more

Not computed









Town of Shelby










Town of Medary










City of La Crosse










La Crosse County










Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000


* Renter-occupied housing unit - All occupied units which are not owner occupied, whether they are rented for cash rent or occupied without payment of cash rent, are classified as renter-occupied.




Household Characteristics

A "household" is defined as an occupied housing unit. Table 7.7, below, outlines the average size of both households and families within the Town. It also identifies the percentage of households that consist of family (related by birth or marriage) versus non-family households. The average household in the Town of Shelby consists of 2.65 people, while the average family in the Town consists of 3 people. The majority, 96.8%, of households in the Town consist of related families.

Table 2.7: Household Characteristics, 2000



Average Household* Size

Average Family* * Size

Family Households

Non-family Households

Town of Shelby





Town of Medary





City of La Crosse





La Crosse County






Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000

* Household - A household includes all the people who occupy a housing unit as their usual place of residence.

** Family - A group of two or more people who reside together and who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption.



Household Growth Projections


The following household growth projections have been used to generate one set of future land use scenarios. These projections, prepared by the State Department of Administration are generally considered conservative growth projections. These figures are often lower than other growth projections as they are based, in part, on historical growth dating back several decades.


Table 2.8: Town of Shelby Housing Projections


Total households

Projected Households







Town of Shelby







Town of Medary







City of La Crosse







La Crosse County








Source: Wisconsin Department of Administration Population and Housing Estimates (

Special Needs Housing


The State of Wisconsin's Department of Health & Family Services keeps an inventory of assisted living facilities. While there are none listed for the Town of Shelby, nearby facilities in the City of La Crosse are numerous. Specifically, there exist two Adult Day Care programs for the advanced aged and developmentally disabled, 25 Adult Family Homes that provide habitation for the developmentally disabled, physically disabled, and emotionally disturbed or mentally ill, 19 Community Based Residential Facilities for the advanced aged, or alcohol/drug dependent, and four Residential Care Apartment complexes.



Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

Goals and objectives identify what the plan should accomplish. Goals are statements that describe a desired future condition, often in general terms. Objectives are statements that describe a specific future condition to be attained, to reach the established goals.

Recommendations identify the action necessary to achieve goals and objectives. For this reason, recommendations should be actionable, attainable, and specific. Not all recommendations can be achieved in the short-term, so they should be specific enough so that any individual or group wishing to achieve a stated goal can take action.

The following goals, objectives, and recommendations were jointly developed by the Town of Shelby Land Use Planning Committee and its consultants.


Housing and Neighborhoods Goal: Allow for a range of housing choices and lot sizes that are consistent with the character and services available in the distinct urban, suburban, and rural portions of the Town.


Determine general locations where clustered housing is desired and update ordinances to allow for such a program.

Retail commercial uses, which primarily serve residential properties, such as "convenience stores", grocery stores, and small retail stores will be considered based on their compatibility with the neighborhood character and acceptance by residents.

Consider local and regional strategies for housing the aging population, including facilities that would provide a continuum of care.



1. Encourage/require the use of conservation design principles. Conservation neighborhoods are those that meet the following guidelines:

i. "Shield" development from main roads through natural vegetation & topography.

ii. Provide vegetative buffers between building sites and sensitive environmental areas.

iii. Preserve mature trees, vegetation, and other attributes that relate to the site's history or natural character.

iv. Prohibit or limit the placement of homes and buildings on exposed bluffs or ridgelines.

v. Create an interconnected network of streets and trails with connections to the larger community.

vi. Integrate natural resources into the subdivison design as aesthetic and conservation landscape elements.

vii. Restore degraded environmental areas within the subdivisions, such as streams and wetlands.

viii. Encourage Best Management Practices (BMPs) for storm water management as opposed to conventional engineering strategies. Typical BMPs include overland transfer, natural landscaping to increase infiltration and reduce runoff, bio-infiltration systems, and residential roof runoff directed to pervious yard areas, and minimize impervious surface ratios for development sites.

ix. Provide wide area for public access to parks and common open spaces.

x. Maximize areas of common open space in the neighborhood through public dedication and/or private management of open space.

2. Require the use of bluff design guidelines for all development within Shelby's bluffs (as defined by the Shelby Planning Commission). Bluff design guidelines as follows:

i. Land use patterns and site designs shall preserve the hillsides, scenic vistas, woodlands, wildlife habitat, and associated rare features found in the Coulee Region.

ii. Minimize exotic landscaping including the size of building footprints, and the amount of impervious surface devoted to roadways to the extent feasible. Allow the natural landscape to dominate.

iii. Nestle structures in valleys or below ridgelines and within the folds of the hills.

iv. Prohibit ridge top "Sky lining" that alters the natural land profiles with built structures. Limit the visual impact of any new development that can legally be constructed. Discourage clear cutting or extensive removal of trees.

v. Cluster development in a manner so as to maximize visually significant, unfragmented woodlands and open spaces.

vi. Design buildings on hillsides to follow the natural terrain in a manner that minimizes earth disturbance.

vii. Construct fences that are wildlife-friendly including efforts to minimize the areas fenced and the length of fences, using fence designs which exclude or discourage only certain types of wildlife, and providing exits and corridors for wildlife.

viii. Place all utilities underground.

ix. Restrict or shield lighting so as to restrict horizontal and vertical light spillover, thereby preserving the dark night sky.

3. No structure shall be built on a slope greater than 30%. Limit development on slopes greater than 20.  Prior to construction, site plans shall be developed to provide for drainage on and off the site to protect subject site and neighboring properties.

4. Limit new industrial development.

5. Support the existing La Crosse County Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, which prohibits new structures within 75 ft of the ordinary high water mark and regulates development within the 300 ft zoning area along creeks and other waterways.

6. Restrict development in floodplains.

7. Support redevelopment of vacant, blighted or underused lands.

8. Create a site development process that requires a public hearing pertaining to development of bluffs, conservation neighborhoods, and traditional neighborhood developments.

9. Reject expansion of existing mobile home courts and require new mobile homes to have permanent foundations and pitched roofs except for instances of multi-story development.

10. Determine the adequacy of the impact fees currently in place in the Town's Subdivision Ordinance.



This element includes a compilation of background information, goals, objectives, and recommendations to guide the future development of Shelby's transportation system.

Existing Road Network

U.S. Highway (USH) 14 & 61

USHs 14 and 61 share a common roadway from their entry point into Wisconsin from Minnesota via La Crosse's Cass Street and Cameron Avenue Bridges, to Vernon County. Within the City of La Crosse, as well as a small segment of the Town of Shelby, the urban street carrying these two highway designations, as well as STH 35, is Mormon Coulee Road. At a location which long time residents of La Crosse still refer to as the "Five Mile Hill", USH 14/61 splits off to the east while STH 35 continues south designated as "The Great River Road". This intersection is now entirely within the City of La Crosse.

At the Five Mile Hill, USH 14/61 has a four-lane, 52-foot wide pavement, with curbed urban cross section. East of Five Mile Hill grade, USH 14/61 has a two-lane, 24-foot wide pavement with an eight foot shoulder on each side and three feet of which is paved.

Every parcel of land that has a property line common to the state right of way for USH 14/61 has an access control restriction entered onto the property description at the La Crosse County Recorder's records. This severely restricts the placement of additional access points onto highway right-of-way, and also places similar restriction on town road access within 300 feet of the USH 14/61 centerline. While not totally prohibited, any additional access requests will be closely scrutinized by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) and internal road connections to an existing access point on the state road or a local road will be the preferred solution. This access control project reaches from Brickyard Road eastward to the La Crosse-Vernon county line.


State Trunk Highway (STH) 33

This highway, known as State Road in the City of La Crosse and a portion of Shelby, enters the Town of Shelby at 32nd Street, with the south side of the street being in the Town, although the City limits extend another 1,000 feet or so along the north side of the road. The Highway has high traffic volumes which reflect the heavy local service use this part of State Road receives by serving the Wedgewood Terraces, Wedgewood Valley, and Greenwald Coulee subdivisions, as well as the Towns of Greenfield and Barre, and the Village of West Salem.

From the City limit eastward to Wedgewood Drive, State Road is 48 feet wide, four lanes, with an urban curb cross section. A paved pedestrian walkway is located on the north side of the road, separated by the curb. This pathway also serves as a bicycle path, although there are no restrictions against a bicycle exercising its legal right to ride in the roadway at this point. East of Boma Road STH 33 pavement narrows to 36 feet, and an east bound climbing lane continues to the top of Irish Hill. The paved pedestrian way ends, but a ten foot wide paved shoulder continues on the north side of the roadway to within 150 feet of Forest Drive. At the top of the hill the roadway continues as a two-lane, 24-foot wide pavement with each shoulder ranging from three to five feet to the Town of Greenfield Town line.

STH 35-Great River Road

This highway is concurrent with USHs 14 and 61 from the Five Mile Hill junction, whereupon STH 35 continues south for about 1.8 miles to the Vernon County line. This pavement and shoulder width has been determined adequate for the existing traffic volumes but the constraining feature is the access points from public streets and private drives.

The Great River Road in Wisconsin is designated and administered by the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission. This Commission is part of the international commission composed of delegates from the ten Mississippi River states plus the province of Ontario in Canada. The purpose of the Parkway is to develop a travel route dedicated to leisurely travel with an emphasis on the scenic and historical qualities of the Mississippi River, which acts as the common thread binding the road together. This must occur on a public roadway which, in the case of STH 35 south of La Crosse, is also the principal link between La Crosse and Prairie Du Chien. These two goals are sometimes at cross purposes as the desire of one group is to maintain a scenic roadway for leisure travelers and the other group wants a direct truck and auto route for commercial purposes. This road is scheduled to be improved to a four lane cross section starting in the next ten years.


This 2.18 mile segment of Rural Major Collector begins/ends at STH 33 near the top of Irish Hill. Within the Town of Shelby it provides access to a condominium project, eight Town roads, CTH FO, four residential subdivisions, and a multi-family residence. At the road's northern end there is approximately one mile of length in the Town of Medary where access is made to CTH FA, then it enters the City of La Crosse and is known as Bliss Road, which is the city street providing access to Granddad Bluff Park up the bluff from Main Street.


This Rural Minor Collector begins at CTH F and extends 1.07 miles to the east Town line. After entering the Town of Greenfield it connects to CTH OA, and provides access to Barre Mills and West Salem.


This Rural Minor Collector of 2.74 miles serves the Goose Island County Park, and it includes spurs and its own dead-end, all within the park. It has a 22-foot pavement except for one segment of 20 feet, and 2 foot shoulders either side. The average daily traffic varies by season, with the heaviest volume being in the summer and fall. There are a large number of bicyclists on the road; however the slow speed of motor vehicles and the general recreational character of the road does reduce the potential motor vehicle/bicycle conflict. A proposal to widen the shoulders to better accommodate bicycles has been discussed, but the road bed is located mostly in marsh. Adding the additional fill required for widening the roadway would be both very expensive and environmentally challenging.


Located at the extreme southern border of the Town, and La Crosse County, CTH K, a Rural Major Collector, enters the Town for 0.78 miles while primarily serving Vernon County as a link between USH 14 and STH 35. The surface width of the pavement is 20 feet, with 2 feet of shoulder on both sides.


This 4.22 mile road is classified as a Rural Minor Collector and has also been designated a Rustic Road by the Wisconsin DOT. This designation results from a petition from the local unit of government having jurisdiction of the road, and an evaluation by DOT to determine if it meets program standards. The Rustic Road encourages the use of the road for leisure travel by motorists, bicyclists, and hikers. The jurisdiction having responsibility for the road maintains it for safe public travel, but is encouraged to preserve the unique scenic qualities through appropriate design standards and maintenance practices, and the encouragement of appropriate zoning to protect compatible adjacent land use. The roadway is currently 20 to 24 feet wide, with a pavement width of one 0.47 mile segment of 18 feet, to 20 feet for the major length of the road. CTH MM connects at each of its ends to USH 14/61 and travels along Brinkman Ridge more or less parallel to the major highway in Mormon Coulee. The area served is a mixture of agricultural fields and woods with little development.


A 0.19 mile segment of this Rural Minor Collector extends north from USH 14/61 right on the Shelby/Greenfield Town line. CTH YY extends through Greenfield to connect with STH 33 about two miles west of the unincorporated village of St. Joseph. There are no buildings in the Town of Shelby on this road.


Town Roads


Shelby has over 40 miles of local streets roads which are credited to the Town's mileage base by DOT for mileage payments. These roads range all the way from 0.11 miles of Losey Boulevard, a four lane, 52 foot wide urban street with an ADT of 22,000 to 0.94 miles of crushed rock surfaced rural roads, spread among four separate dead end lanes, each serving one or two houses, or out-buildings.

Maintenance on urban streets, especially snowplowing or sanding, is coordinated with the City of La Crosse, and on occasion a snow plow from one or the other jurisdiction may handle the neighboring jurisdiction's street for a short distance. Some other Town roads, such as North Chipmunk Road, also pass in and out of neighboring jurisdictions, and require maintenance coordination. North Chipmunk is the longest stretch of Town road, with 1.83 miles before passing into Vernon County, to reenter into Shelby farther west. Four other roads, Bloomer Mill, Skyline, Breidel Coulee, and Hagen Road are all over a mile long; all other Town roads are less than a mile long, with about 15½ miles of "final segments" being dead ends or cul-de-sacs.


Table 3.1 Average Daily Traffic, 1996-2002





Change 1996-2002

STH 35/USH 61/14










USH 61/14/CTH YY











Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Transportation of Goods and Freight


A 1996 study showed that Wisconsin's freight movements were accommodated through three modes: trucks on highway (58 percent), rail (33 percent), and water (9 percent). All three cargo modes are available in La Crosse County. The convergence of highway, rail, and water cargo facilities in La Crosse County provides the opportunity for a fully intermodal terminal for freight distribution. The County's closest intermodal terminals are in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago.

Truck Routes

The officially designated state or federal trucks routes within the Town of Shelby are: USH 14/61, STH 35, and STH 33. A discussion of these routes can be found at the beginning of this chapter.


Direct access for waterborne freight is available through both public and private terminals in the City of La Crosse and the Town of Campbell. The Port of La Crosse serves incoming and outgoing barge traffic on the Mississippi River. The port handles nearly 1.2 million metric tons of commodities annually and offers connections to the Upper Midwest and the world, including Russia, South America, Mexico, China, and other regions.

Rail Freight

La Crosse County has rail cargo service through three Class I railroad companies, all of which provide direct access to Chicago and connections to eastern points. The Chicago-Twin Cities mainline of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad passes through Shelby in a north-south direction. About 1 1/2 miles of this right-of-way lies within the Town parallel to STH 35. The public crossing of this busy rail line is CTH GI which services Goose Island County Park. This is a flashing light-gate protected crossing. The main passes through Shelby in an intersection where the Rail Road maintains the signal and the Town maintains the road.

The line has an industrial spur which leaves the mainline at a location in the City and travels north westerly along Diagonal Road. Within or at the edges of the Town "island" this spur crosses 27th Street, Losey Boulevard, and Ward Avenue. The Losey and Ward Avenue crossings have a flashing light warning. The City maintains all three crossings.

The Canadian Pacific Railway connects La Crosse to Milwaukee and Minneapolis/St. Paul. This company provides service, or potentially could provide service, to Rockland, Bangor, West Salem, and the north side of La Crosse. The Union Pacific Railroad operates with trackage rights on the Canadian Pacific between Tomah and Winona. The Wisconsin Rail Issues and Opportunities study in 1996 forecasted that rail cargo lines that serve La Crosse County will continue to serve as higher density lines.


Air Cargo


The La Crosse Municipal Airport serves as an air cargo facility. The airport is not one of the state's six primary air cargo airports, but it does function as a feeder air service. Rather than maintain and operate a fleet of small aircraft, the integrated express carriers contract for on-demand service with a variety of aircraft operators. The Wisconsin State Airport System Plan 2020 forecasts for all-cargo aircraft operations at La Crosse Municipal Airport to continue to grow. In 2020, state forecasts predict that the La Crosse Municipal Airport will have the second highest aircraft operations by commercial air cargo carriers, second to General Mitchell International in Milwaukee, but that the La Crosse Municipal Airport's share of the state's air cargo operations will be less than 12 percent.



Analysis on Regional Movement of People



Highway Network

The following street types move people throughout the region:

Principal Arterials – Serve longer intra-urban trips and traffic traveling through urban areas. They carry high traffic volumes and provide links to major activity centers.

Minor Arterials – Provide intra-community continuity and service to trips of moderate length, with more emphasis on land access than principal arterials. The minor arterial system interconnects with the urban arterial system and provides system connections to the rural collectors.

Air Transportation


The La Crosse Municipal Airport, is one of nine Wisconsin airports that have commercial air passenger service on a year-round basis. The airport is located on French Island and it serves passenger air travel through connections to regional hubs. American Eagle serves the airport with three flights per day every day of the week, connecting through Chicago. Northwest Airlines has eight flights per day, connecting through Minneapolis. Skyway Airlines, with service to Milwaukee and a connection to Midwest Airlines ended its service on October 31, 2005.

The Wisconsin State Airport System Plan 2020 forecasts an increasing number of enplanements. The plan forecasts 201,000 thousand enplanements in 2010 and 231,000 enplanements in 2020.

At the airport, the multimodal connection opportunities are to rent a vehicle from three national car rental companies (Avis, Hertz and National), or to use local city bus Route 4 (French Island/Industrial Parks).


Passenger Rail


Intercity passenger rail is available through Amtrak service in the City of La Crosse. The Amtrak Empire Builder serves La Crosse, with regional connection to Chicago, Milwaukee, Columbus, Portage, Wisconsin Dells, Tomah, Winona, Red Wing, and St. Paul. The Empire Builder also connects to the West Coast (Seattle, WA and Portland, OR). Through a connection in Chicago, the national Amtrak network is available. The passenger rail station is located at St. Andrew and Caledonia Streets (601 St. Andrew Street in the City of La Crosse).

WisDOT has been studying ways in which Wisconsin's intercity passenger rail system could be expanded and developed into a more robust component of the state's overall transportation system. WisDOT, along with Amtrak and eight other Midwestern state DOTs, is currently evaluating the Midwest Regional Rail System, a proposed 3,000-mile, Chicago-based passenger rail network in the Midwest. The regional rail system would provide 6 round trips at peak times between Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, and St. Paul. Modern trains operating at peak speeds of up to 110-mph could produce travel times competitive with driving or flying.


Intercity Bus


Intercity passenger bus service in the La Crosse area was provided by Greyhound Lines; however, in August 2004, Greyhound discontinued service to the La Crosse area as part of its route restructuring. Intercity bus transportation is now provided by Jefferson Lines, a connecting carrier to Greyhound Bus Lines. Jefferson Lines runs daily scheduled bus service that connects to Greyhound's national service in Madison and Minneapolis/St. Paul. The intercity bus terminal is located at 601 St. Andrew Street in the City of La Crosse.



Analysis on the Local Movement of People



The street network shapes access and circulation through the community. Public streets in the area are classified by their primary function, as described below:

Collectors – Provide both land access and traffic circulation within residential neighborhoods, commercial areas, and industrial areas. These facilities collect traffic from local streets in residential neighborhoods and channel it onto the arterial system. In the central business district, and in other areas of like development and traffic density, the collector system may include the street grid which forms the basic unit of traffic circulation.

Local Streets – Local streets primarily provide direct access to adjacent land and access to higher order systems. Local streets offer the lowest level of mobility and through traffic movement on this system is usually discouraged.

Public Transportation and Transit


The Town currently does not participate financially in supporting mass transit service but two La Crosse Municipal Transit Utility (MTU) routes pass through the edges of the Town, and one other route passes close enough to parts of the Town to provide reasonable service to at least some Town residents. The Town briefly subsidized an extension of MTU Route 3, but ended the subsidy because of low fares and ridership.




Paratransit, in its broadest sense, includes all modes of "public" or "mass" passenger transportation systems other than privately driven automobiles or regularly scheduled bus/train service. To meet the special needs of persons with disabilities and to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, MTU operates lift-equipped buses on its regular fixed route system. La Crosse County Department of Aging contracts with a private operator to provide "mini-bus" service to all residents of La Crosse County age 60 or over, or 18 and over who are disabled, or otherwise unable to use conventional mass transit if it is available. In the Cities of La Crosse and Onalaska this service is provided on a daily basis but in other parts of the County it is available certain days of the week on a demand response door-to-door, with a hierarchy of trip purposes determining the priority for space and time.





There are three taxi cab companies operating in the La Crosse area that will provide chauffeured taxi service from or to anywhere in the County, or to or from other destinations, with a La Crosse County starting or ending point, at market rates.


The La Crosse area has an extensive system of both on-road bicycle and off-road multipurpose facilities, especially in the more urbanized areas. The 2030 Metropolitan Area Transportation Plan describes in detail each of the off-road and on-road bicycling facilities.

On-road bicycle routes include both intracity and intercity routes, with intercity routes achieving state and national significance. On-road intracity routes tend to align with minor arterial streets in order to take advantage of signalization and connectivity. Greater directness could be achieved by following major arterials; however, those alignments are more heavily trafficked and pose a greater danger to bicyclists.


Pedestrian facilities are not mapped by most local governments in La Crosse County, including the Town of Shelby. However, the 2030 Metropolitan Area Transportation Plan makes the following generalizations about the pedestrian network:

For the most part, the roadways in suburban and urban-fringe areas of the planning area are constructed with curb and gutter; yet, these roads generally lack sidewalks, and have a narrow, 3-ft gutter pan and/or a wide curb lane within which a pedestrian might travel (not recommended). The lack of sidewalks forces pedestrians to walk in the roadway, increasing the likelihood of pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes.

The cities and villages have gaps in the sidewalk system or lack sidewalks entirely in their fringe areas. This is due mainly to the incorporated areas annexing unincorporated areas that were not under development requirements to provide sidewalks.



Transportation Plans

South La Crosse Transportation Study

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, in cooperation with the La Crosse Area Planning Committee, City of La Crosse, and Town of Shelby, completed a study to identify a long-term vision for the future of South Avenue/Mormon Coulee Road.

The area under evaluation includes South Avenue/Mormon Coulee Road from the junction with Green Bay Street (by Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center) to the intersection of USH 14/61/STH 35. Two additional highway segments also will be examined:

STH 35 from the USH 14/61/STH 35 intersection to the La Crosse County line (near Goose Island).

USH 14/61 from the USH 14/61/STH 35 intersection to the junction with County M (near Ten Mile Hill).

Alternatives generated for the study include a Four-lane Variable Width Median, Five-lane Two-

Way-Left-Turn-Lane, Hybrid Alternative, and the No-build Alternative. Major intersections with public

streets were evaluated and three potential intersection options developed including a signalized intersection,

two-lane roundabout, and three-lane roundabout. The potential intersection options would be contained

within the mainline alternatives. It was not within the scope of this study to determine a preferred alternative.

In addition to mainline alternatives for the urban segment of the corridor, six intersection alternatives for the

US 14/61/WIS 35 intersection were developed. These alternatives were developed as a system of

intersections including 33rd Street, Old Town Hall Road, Riverview Drive, and Sunnyside Drive. Though

each of the intersection alternatives would provide good operations at the US 14/61/WIS 35 intersection,

other intersections function differently depending upon the intersection alternative.

Long Range Transportation Plan for the La Crosse Area

The La Crosse Area Planning Committee (LAPC) has completed the 2030 La Crosse and La Crescent Metropolitan Area Transportation Plan, which is the new long-range transportation plan for the La Crosse and La Crescent area, including Shelby. The plan was adopted by the LAPC on August 17, 2005. Chapter 5 of the plan contains a highly detailed analysis and description of all transportation modes available in La Crosse County. Any reader of this section of the Existing Conditions Report seeking further details should consult Chapter 5 of the Metropolitan Area Transportation Plan.


Scheduled Transportation Improvements

STH 35: According to the South La Crosse Transportation Study (September 2005), there are planned improvements to STH 35 in 2010. "The WIS 35 South corridor is tentatively scheduled for reconstruction as a four-lane facility in 2010, and is expected to exceed the WisDOT FDM threshold for a two-lane facility some time near 2025."

US 14/61: According to the South La Crosse Transportation Study (September 2005), there is a plan to reconstruct US 14/61 to a four-lane facility, though "changes to WisDOT policy have resulted in the need to reexamine the need for implementation of the plan."


Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

Goals and objectives identify what the plan should accomplish. Goals are statements that describe a desired future condition, often in general terms. Objectives are statements that describe a specific future condition to be attained, to reach the established goals.

Recommendations identify the action necessary to achieve goals and objectives. For this reason, recommendations should be actionable, attainable, and specific. Not all recommendations can be achieved in the short-term, so they should be specific enough so that any individual or group wishing to achieve a stated goal can take action.

The following goals, objectives, and recommendations were jointly developed by the Town of Shelby Land Use Planning Committee and its consultants.

Transportation Goal: Maintain a safe, efficient, and economical transportation system by proactively addressing the varied vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, and transit needs.


Assess impact of future development on the Town and region's transportation infrastructure.

Better connect the region's walking and biking infrastructure through trails, paths, and on-street routes.

Monitor the feasibility of again participating in mass transit programs.

New streets and reconditioning of existing streets will seek to implement the provisions of the adopted "Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan Element" of the "La Crosse Area Long-Range Transportation Plan".


Support and assist the work of the La Crosse Area Planning Commission (LAPC) in developing regional cooperation to provide the most cost effective public transportation countrywide.

Encourage cooperative transportation efforts.

On an annual basis, continue to review and upgrade the roads under Shelby's jurisdiction based on safety, level of service and pavement condition criteria.

Improve development review to ensure that all private and public development is undertaken in a manner which minimizes increased traffic congestion and land use conflicts.

Traffic calming techniques should be included in all new developments where appropriate.

When new roads are required, minimize the use of dead end roads and cul-de-sacs whenever possible. New driveways shall continue to be regulated to ensure sufficient emergency vehicle access and to maintain safe driveway spacing standards.

Require developments to provide appropriate areas for future transit and transportation facilities.

Work with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as they develop and make modifications to State and Federal Highways to create "limited access highways" so that their actions to promote safer travel do not mean increased speed limits on local highways.



This element includes background information, goals, objectives, and recommendations to guide the future development of utilities and community facilities in the Town of Shelby. It describes current facilities and includes recommendations for future utilities needs, upgrades, and considerations.

Existing Conditions

Water Supply

Four residential areas of the Town are served by a regulated public water system. Shelby Sanitary District Two serves 277 customers in Arbor Hills, most of Wedgewood Valley, and the Skyline Addition, which includes all of the Hagen Road accessed properties from Sherwood Drive to the south. The two Wedgewood Terraces are served by a 181 customer cooperative water system, which purchases wholesale water from the Sanitary District. There are 10 to 15 instances of two to six homes sharing a single well, and a few lots in the "Urban Island" portion that are served and billed by the City of La Crosse. The rest of the Town residents obtain their water from their own private well.


Table 4.1: La Crosse County Municipal Water Supply, 2005




Storage Capacity



Shelby Arbor Hills LA CROSSE


Shelby Skyline Addition LA CROSSE


Shelby Wedgewood Terrace LA CROSSE


Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 2005

While the Town's precipitation and soil geology allow for rapid groundwater recharge, they also allow for groundwater contamination from surface activities. There are many contaminated groundwater sites within La Crosse County and with continued growth in population and economic activity, the demand on groundwater supplies will continue to increase. To assist in preventing further groundwater contamination, a groundwater modeling study of La Crosse County was completed in 2003. This study assessed the effects of recent and potential future groundwater withdrawals and provides a suitable tool to evaluate the effects of proposed water management programs. The plan identifies the extent of contamination on existing sites and the direction in which these contaminated sites are flowing.

Sanitary Sewer Service/Wastewater Treatment
Several residential subdivisions and commercial and industrial properties in Shelby are served by two different sanitary districts, while the remainder of properties within the Town have their own septic system. Shelby Sanitary District One has been taken over by the City of La Crosse, and much of the area served by it has been annexed; the town island and properties on the southeastern fringe of the City along Cliffside Drive remain in the unincorporated portion served by Sanitary District One. Administration and maintenance of this district including the billing of Shelby property owners served, is by the City of La Crosse.

Sanitary District Two is administered and maintained by the Town of Shelby. Approximately 14 miles of sanitary sewer mains serve Arbor Hills, the Wedgewood Terraces, Wedgewood Valley, the Hagen Road -Greenwald Coulee Subdivisions, Creekside Meadows, and Bridal Coulee; along the HWY 33 corridor between Norseman Drive and the City of La Crosse limits. Most town areas adjacent to the City, such as Ebner Coulee, Floral Lane, and Old Vineyard Addition are also served by Sanitary District Two. All wastewater from both sanitary districts is treated at the La Crosse municipal wastewater plant on Isle La Plume. There are 806 homes and 147 mobile homes that are customers of this district.


The Isle La Plume facility was originally constructed in 1936, but has been modified and upgraded many times, with the last major upgrade occurring in 1998. The La Crosse Sewer Service Area Water Quality Management Plan 1999-2020 states that the facility has excess capacity that can handle twice the loading and the population that was served in 1999. The Sanitary District is supported by user service fees paid by its customers.


On-Site Wastewater Treatment Technology

The disposal of waster water in the remainder of the Town is handled through the use of individual on-site wastewater disposal systems, often referred to as septic system. Septic systems discharge wastewater to underground drainage fields or septic tanks. There are currently six types of on-site disposal system designs authorized for use in the state: conventional (underground), mound, pressure distribution, at grade, holding tank, and sand filter systems. The Wisconsin Department of Commerce (COMM) regulates the siting, design, installation and inspection of most private on-site sewage systems. Recent changes to the State's Plumbing Code (COMM 83) allow for both conventional and advanced pre-treatment systems for residential development. The changes allow properties that have soil depths or soil types that were once unsuitable for conventional septic systems to now be developed and serviced by advanced pre-treatment sewage systems. If not properly located or maintained, on-site sewage disposal systems can significantly pollute groundwater.



Solid Waste Disposal and Recycling Facilities


The Town of Shelby offers refuse, on a weekly basis, and recycling collection, on a biweekly basis, to residents within the Town. The Town Hall also has a location for residents to dispose of large amounts of brush. Solid waste from the Town is disposed of at the La Crosse County Landfill, which is located east of I-90 and south of Highway 16 as shown on the Utilities Map 4.1.

La Crosse County recently entered into a contract to mine an estimated 2 million cubic yards of waste that was buried in the landfill in the 1970s and 1980s and rebury it in a new section designed to better prevent groundwater contamination. The old landfill has been leaking contaminants into the groundwater for years and the plume of contaminants threatened the wells of residents to the south. The project could extend the life of the landfill by up to 40 years, which is well beyond the planning horizon of this Comprehensive Plan.



Stormwater Management


Stormwater management has gained attention in recent years as an environmental concern because of its impacts on flooding, property damage, and surface water quality issues. Similar to water supply and wastewater treatment, stormwater management is an important part of municipal infrastructure.

In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requires an erosion control plan and permit for all projects that disturb one or more acres of land. The landowner is required to ensure that a site specific erosion control plan and stormwater management plan are developed and implemented at the construction site. Also, the La Crosse County Subdivision and Platting Ordinance requires subdividers to provide a soil erosion plan subject to Chapter 21 of the La Crosse County Code of Ordinances and a stormwater management plan that meets the appropriate post-construction water quality requirements of NR151 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and the water quantity requirements set forth in the La Crosse County Code of Ordinances.



Telecommunication Facilities


CenturyTel provides the County with local telephone service; long distance service is available through several providers. Cellular telephone services is available in Town through a variety of providers. High speed Internet access and fiber optic connections are available in the Town of Shelby through Charter Communications. The region is connected to the Midwestern fiber optic network via CenturyTel. However, this technology is not available throughout the entire Town and certain residents in rural areas within the Town have limited capabilities for high-speed Internet services.

Power Plants, Electricity, and Transmission Lines
Most of the geographic area of the Town of Shelby is served by Vernon Electric Co-op, a local retail distributor of the Dairyland Power Cooperative system. The portions of Shelby most immediately adjacent to, or surrounded by, the City of La Crosse such as Ebner Coulee, La Crosse Floral, Wedgewood Terrace, Wedgewood Valley, Greenwald Coulee, Skyline Addition, and Cliffside/Crown Point are served by Xcel Energy, and also have piped natural gas service. Arbor Hills, CTHs F and FO, the Coachlite and Pleasant Valley mobile home parks, and everything east of Wedgewood Valley and Greenwald Coulee on STH 33 to the Town line and virtually everything east of USH 14/61 and STH 35 intersection, Chipmunk Coulee, and most of the River Hills area is served by Vernon Electric. Goose Island Campground, the HWY 14/61 corridor, and part of the River Hills area is served by Xcel Gas.

Most of Shelby is served by the School District of La Crosse. The far northeastern corner of the Town is part of the West Salem School District. The School District of La Crosse operates twelve elementary schools, three middle schools, and three high schools. These schools are located throughout the district and include a wide variety of options for students, including charters, magnet, and alternative programs. One elementary school, State Road School, of the La Crosse School District is located in the Town.


In addition, the County has 16 private schools that provide additional educational choices for residents at all age levels.

Town residents also have access to several post-secondary education schools, including the following:

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was founded in 1909 and is now one of the 13 four-year campuses in the University of Wisconsin System with enrollment around 9,000 students. UW-L has joined the City's other two institutions of higher education and the region's medical facilities to form a consortium to bring cutting-edge health care to the region, along with a state-of-the-art health research and education facility for professionals and students.

Western Technical College is a public two-year college with a focus on technical education. The college has an annual enrollment of approximately 9,400 credit students and 12,900 non-credit students. The average age of WWTC's credit and non-credit student is 33.

Viterbo University, established in 1890, is a co-educational Catholic University founded in the Franciscan tradition. Viterbo offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and has an enrollment of approximately 2,100 students.



The Town of Shelby is served by the Winding Rivers Library System in conjunction with the La Crosse Public Library System. A main branch is located in the City of La Crosse and five other branches are located throughout the County. Each branch is housed in a building provided, furnished, and maintained by the municipality in which it is located.

In addition to the extensive resource collection within the library system, each branch has one or more public computers with Internet access.

Parks and Recreation Facilities


The Town of Shelby has an extensive system of small parks and play areas. The major subdivisions have outdoor recreation areas due to the Town's subdivision ordinance requirements. Within the Town system, there are 14 developed parks and four public parcels which are not developed for a total of approximately 64.57 acres in developed parks and 66.29 acres of undeveloped or idle lands.

Goose Island County Park, covering 710 acres, has a campground with over 400 sites, most of which are electrically equipped to handle recreational vehicles and trailers. There is a camp store, boat and canoe rental, and other public launch areas. Picnic shelters, ball diamonds, and hiking trails are also to be found at this park. Goose Island is the largest county managed campground in Wisconsin.


Table 4.2: Parks/Recreational Land Located in the Town of Shelby



Park Name

Size (acres)


Arbor Hills-Developed* 2.15 Tennis Courts, Playground,
Arbor Hills-Wooded Hillside* 18.5 Passive Recreation Space
Boulder Ridge Park* 1.18 Playground
Breidel Coulee Park* 9.29 1 acre of active park space, 8.29 passive recreational space
Brookwood* 2.15 Playground
Forest Hills* 1.32 Passive recreational space
Hills of Home* 0.15 Playground
Mormon Coulee Park* 18.0 Picnic Shelters, tennis courts, volleyball court, playground
Nolop Estates* 0.28 Playground
Pammel Creek Park* 18.0 New community wide park with paved trail and 2 baseball fields
River Hills* 0.42 Playground and basketball hoop
Scenic Addition/Lommen Land* 38.11 Underground water reservoir; passive recreation space
Shelby Ball Fields* 12.5 3 Youth Baseball Fields
Skyline* 4.29 Playground and basketball (Power line Right of Way)
Smyth* 1.63 Softball field, playground
Sunset Slope* 0.15 Vacant land
Wedgewood Terrace* 0.77 Playground, basketball, tennis court
Wedgewood Terrace First Addition* 0.75 Playground
Wedgewood Valley* 1.3 Playground
Stry Foundation Nature Center 5.18 Non-profit foundation passive recreation facility. Walking trail, pond, and natural habitat for wildlife.
Goose Island County Park 710 400 campsites, boating, canoeing, hiking trails, picnic shelters, baseball fields, and playgrounds run by La Crosse County
Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge 2,500 Nature preserve available for passive recreation owned by the federal government
Mount La Crosse Ski Area 200 Privately owned downhill (3 chair lifts) and cross country skiing


* - Designates Town park




Town Buildings


The two principal Town buildings are located across Ward Avenue from each other at 2800 and 2801 Ward Avenue, within a town island surrounded by the incorporated City of La Crosse. The original Town Hall, 2801, was built in 1956-57 and the Town shop was built adjacent.



In 1992 the Town bought the building at 2800 Ward Avenue that had been occupied by a tool rental and remodeled it into their Town Hall.





Police, Fire, and Rescue

The Town of Shelby has two full-time and one part part-time police officers that serve the Town. The Police Department is based out of the Town Annex at 2801 Ward Avenue.

In addition to the Town police, the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department is located in the City of La Crosse and serves the entire County. At the time of this writing, the Department has 109 employees.

The Town of Shelby has its own fire department that also serves parts of the Towns of Greenfield and Medary. The department consists of a salaried Chief and 30 volunteer fire fighters. Fire protection and first responder services, fire safety inspection and education are all services provided by the department.

The La Crosse County 911 Emergency Dispatch Center is located in the La Crosse County Law Enforcement Center in La Crosse. Over 30 employees provide 24-hour emergency telephone service to everyone in La Crosse County. Using a state-of-the-art enhanced 911 system (E-911), the 911 telecommunicator is able to send emergency and non-emergency assistance quickly and accurately.

In addition to providing emergency telephone answering service, the La Crosse County 911 Emergency Dispatch Center telecommunicators are the radio and multiple computer system operators. This fully integrated system allows the department to provide full emergency and non-emergency service to each of the eight Law Enforcement Departments, the eight Fire Departments, the nine First Responder organizations, Emergency Government, and Search and Rescue throughout the entire County.

Health Care Facilities
No health care facilities are located in the Town of Shelby. The nearest health care facilities to the Town are located in the City of La Crosse. Gundersen Lutheran and Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, are two (2) large medical centers that operate in the region, each with a hospital and large clinic in the City of La Crosse.

Gundersen-Lutheran Medical Center is the area's recognized leader in heart, trauma and cancer care, births, business services, research and health education, with over one million clinic, hospital, and emergency room visits each year.

Gundersen Lutheran operates a 325-bed teaching hospital with a Level II Trauma and Emergency Center in La Crosse.

Franciscan Skemp, MHS La Crosse Campus operates a 250 bed hospital with a 24-hour Emergency Trauma Center. Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, partnered with world-renowned Mayo Clinic, offers excellent specialty services including cardiology, neurology, nephrology, oncology, orthopedics and many others, as well as comprehensive, compassionate primary care throughout an 11-county region in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Franciscan Skemp is a leader in women's health, having established the area's first Women's Health Center in 1983.


Construction is underway for a 100,000 sq. ft. expansion to the Franciscan Skemp, MHS facility.

A health care education consortium that includes Viterbo University, Western Wisconsin Technical College and the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse exists in the region.


Child Care Facilities


The child care options within the Town of Shelby are limited to private home-based child care facilities. The La Crosse County Family Resource Center helps to connect parents and children to childcare providers.



La Crosse County has 33 regulated full day group child care centers and 254 regulated full day family child care homes. 212 child care facilities offer infant care and 47 offer care during second and third shift.



The Town has one child care facility on Harvest Lane.





There are eight cemeteries located within the Town. They are:






Chipmunk Coulee/Salzar Methodist Cemetery (N. Chipmunk Rd. near CHY K)


Kienholz Family Cemetery/ Old Settler's Mormon Coulee Cemetery (Hwy 14/61 at Breidel Coulee Rd)


Mormon Coulee Memorial Park Cemetery (N1137 Bloomer Mill Rd.)


Trinity United Church of Christ Cemetery/ Swiss Reformed Cemetery (Hwy 14-61 at Breidel Coulee Rd)






Hass Family Cemetery (Helke Road)


Justin Family Cemetery (Hwy. 14 at Justin Rd)


Markle Family Cemetery/ Salzer Methodist - Mormon Coulee Cemetery (W4607 Hwy.14/61)


Pruett Family Cemetery (Hwy 14-61, east of Bloomer Mill Rd.)




Timetable for the Expansion of Utilities and Community Facilities

Although population is not expected to increase over the next twenty years, there is anticipated growth forecasted. As such, many services and facilities are likely to be upgraded over time with increases in development. See Table 4.3.

Table 4.3: Forecasted Utilities and Community Facilities Needs



Approximate Timeframe


Fire Truck Expansion Immediate Chase shipped on Aug 24, 2007


Park Department Expansion Immediate John Deere 72" Mid-Mount Mower $15,490.00
Road Department Plow Truck Short-Term Budgeted $85,000.00
Road Department Pickup Truck Short-Term $10,000.00
Road Department Snow Blower Short-Term $25,000.00
Park Department Pammel Creek Walk Way, Well Short-Term  
Immediate: as soon as possible
Short-Term: approximately 1-4 years in the future    


Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

Goals and objectives identify what the plan should accomplish. Goals are statements that describe a desired future condition, often in general terms. Objectives are statements that describe a specific future condition to be attained, to reach the established goals.

Recommendations identify the action necessary to achieve goals and objectives. For this reason, recommendations should be actionable, attainable, and specific. Not all recommendations can be achieved in the short-term, so they should be specific enough so that any individual or group wishing to achieve a stated goal can take action.

The following goals, objectives, and recommendations were jointly developed by the Town of Shelby Land Use Planning Committee and its consultants.


Parks, Recreation and Open Space Goal: Coordinate public and private sector efforts to maintain and improve the varied park, recreation, and open space features that serve the local population and improve the region's high quality of life.


Identify locations and implementation tools needed to better connect the recreational path and greenway system.

Limit bluff top development by enforcing existing ordinances and continuing with voluntary easement acquisition programs and other tools.



Identify "no build" preservation areas and develop ways to encourage owners to participate, i.e. conservation easement; purchase of development rights; outright donation of land or tax incentives.

Set a preferred ratio of open space to developed space (i.e. 10/20/30 acres between any developments).

Encourage development of a Mormon Coulee Creek Greenway from Goose Island to CTH YY, along both sides of the creek, where possible. Require a 150 ft setback for new development along this section of Mormon Coulee Creek.

Encourage development of a Pammel Creek Greenway from Drive Inn Road easterly to the bottom of Irish Hill, along both sides of the creek, where possible.

Explore development of a Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan in accordance to DNR standards to forecast park needs and create eligibility for grant funding through the state.

Utilities and Community Facilities Goal: Maintain quality public services that provide for increased public safety, a low crime rate, a strong rural and urban economy, a clean environment, and reasonable and equitable taxes.


a. Recognize that new occupied structures within the Town will be serviced by the Shelby Sanitary District, private individual systems, or some other form of "off-site" wastewater disposal.

b. Explore urban "off-site" waste treatment systems. Other new technologies need to be explored for areas not served by sanitary sewer.


Identify preferred "off-site" waste treatment systems for use in urban developments. Ensure these facilities are owned and maintained by a consortium of property owners.

Continue to upgrade and maintain the Shelby Sanitary District as required to meet or exceed DNR standards.



This element includes an analysis of existing agricultural, natural, and cultural resources in and around the Town of Shelby. The chapter includes existing conditions, goals, objectives, and recommendations for the effective management of resources in the town.



Agricultural Resources


Agricultural Lands


There are 3,667 acres of agricultural land within the Town of Shelby. This accounts for nearly 20% of all the land within the Town. Farming is part of the local economy and is also a way of life for some residents. Map 5.2 depicts where these land uses are located and how these agricultural lands are utilized.

Soil Types & Capability

The Town's ridges and bluff tops are predominately overlain by Fayette and Dubuque Silt Loams. Fayette is considered to be a productive agricultural soil, and Dubuque is almost its equal, except in steeper settings. In addition to Fayette Silt Loam, the slopes have soils of the Gale-Hixton Complex which is a somewhat less productive agricultural soil, but with modern soil management techniques is still capable of producing annual crops. The only other significant soil complex on the buildable slopes is the Gale-Hixton Complex, a sandstone derived soil occurring on well drained nearly flat ridge tops to steep slopes.

On the less steep valley sides, in the coulees, and other low areas, the soil mixture becomes more complex. In the valleys, Arenzville Silt Loam and Plainfield Loamy Fine Sand are common. Arenzville is by far the better agricultural soil, being about the quality of Fayette, while the Plainfield series is too prone to wind erosion to produce good yields of row crops. It is better suited for vine-type crops or forage cover crops. The river terrace silt loam soils, Toddville, Richwood, and Judson, are all very productive agricultural soils. These productive agricultural soils are more common in the eastern part of the Town, where erosion has not yet cut down through as many strata. The Fayette and Bertrand soil associations, in the western area of the Town do not quite equal the more naturally productive silt loams in the east. They, however, are certainly quite capable of producing fine crops.

More detailed information on these soil types can be found in the La Crosse County Farmland Preservation Plan 1980. Soil suitability is depicted on Map 5.1. Soil suitability classes for agriculture range from Class I to Class VIII, with I being most suitable and VIII being the least suitable soils for agriculture.

Table 5.1: General Soil Suitability

Soil Classification



Class I


No significant limitations for raising crops.
Class II


Suited for cultivated crops but have limitations such as poor drainage, limited root zones, climatic restrictions, or erosion potential.
Class III


Suited for cultivated crops but have limitations such as poor drainage, limited root zones, climatic restrictions, or erosion potential.
Class IV


Suitable for crops but only under selected cropping practices.
Class V


Best suited for pasture and range
Class VI


Best suited for pasture and range
Class VII


Best suited for pasture and range
Class VIII


Suited only for wildlife habitat, recreation, and other nonagricultural uses
Urban- Developed



Source: USDA Soil Survey, boundaries clipped from La Crosse County Zoning, 2003

Not Shown: Water – 2,669.43 acres


Agricultural Dependency

There are 32 people, or 0.7% of the Town population, living on farms, and 22 people, or 0.9% of employed adults within the Town working on farms. This is less than La Crosse County as a whole and more than Towns of Campbell and Medary.

Table 5.2: Dependence on Agriculture (2000 Census)


Population Living On Farms

Employed Adults Working on Farms

Town Name

Town Population





Shelby town






Campbell town






Medary town






La Crosse County






Source: US Census, 2000

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that farm earnings in La Crosse County decreased by 48 percent between 1990 and 1998, which was a greater decline than in the Mississippi River region (37 percent), the State of Wisconsin (26 percent) or the United States (2 percent).

According to the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service, between 1992 and 1997 the following agricultural land trends occurred in La Crosse County:

Land in farms decreased 7 percent from 182,339 to 169,543 acres

Average size of farms decreased 3 percent from 231 to 223 acres

Full-time farms decreased 21 percent from 507 farms to 403 farms

Market value of agricultural products sold decreased 5 percent to $45,758,000 (crop sales accounted for 20 percent of the market value and livestock sales accounted for 80 percent of the market value)

Average market value of agricultural products sold per farm decreased slightly from $60,843 to $60,287

The State of Wisconsin showed similar agricultural trends during this time period. However, market value of agricultural products sold statewide increased by six percent and average market value of agricultural products sold per farm statewide increased by 10 percent.


Natural Resources


Floodplains in the Town of Shelby are located adjacent to the Mississippi River, Pammel Creek, Mormon Creek and Chipmunk Coulee Creek. The western edge of the Town falls within a 100 year floodplain, Map 5.3 graphically depicts this area. Floodplains are land areas that have been or may be covered by floodwater during the "regional flood". The regional flood is a flood determined to be representative of large floods known to have occurred in Wisconsin or which may be expected to occur on a particular lake, river or stream. Floodplains are identified and mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Nation's annual flood recovery costs are high and the human hardship beyond this is immeasurable. It is for this reason that the federal, state, and local governments encourage hazard mitigation planning that discourages floodplain development. Counties, cities, and villages are responsible for administering floodplain zoning in accordance with regulatory standards of Chapter NR 116 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and the standards of the National Flood Insurance Program.



The majority of the Town's wetlands are found surrounding the Mississippi River, Pammel Creek, and Mormon Creek.

Wetlands are defined in Section 23.32 of the Wisconsin Statutes, as areas where water is at, near, or above the land surface long enough to be capable of supporting aquatic or hydrophytic vegetation and which has soils indicative of wet conditions. Wetlands are environmentally sensitive due to the many values and functions they provide, including:

Filtering and replenishing groundwater.

Flood protection – wetlands act like sponges by storing and slowly releasing rainfall and runoff, which reduces flood peaks and flood recovery costs.

Filters for certain kinds of wastes and soluble contaminants generated from runoff, which protects water quality.

Food and habitat for many plants and animals, which benefits hunting, fishing, sightseeing, and other recreational or tourism interests.

Shoreline protection – wetlands protect shorelines from erosive wave action and enhance the quality of life by providing spacious and scenic open spaces.




Groundwater resources are plentiful in La Crosse County; and are the sole source of residential water supply for Town of Shelby residents. A deeper sandstone and dolomite aquifer with a soil geology that allows for rapid groundwater recharge of the shallow sand and gravel aquifer, which supplies a consistent supply of water. Groundwater in the area is generally considered to be of good quality; however, the area's soil geology, while allowing for rapid groundwater recharge, can also make the groundwater more susceptible to contamination. A groundwater study conducted for La Crosse County reported that there were over 160 groundwater contamination sites in La Crosse County in 2003, mostly in the vicinity of the Cities of La Crosse and Onalaska.




There are over 8,100 acres of woodlands within the Town of Shelby according to the most recent La Crosse County land use records available (2003). Approximate Woodland boundaries can be found on Map 8.1. The Town and County are located in a region of the country known as the Prairie-Forest Border, which forms the transition zone between the plains to the south and west and the forests to the north and east. Before European settlement and the resulting fire suppression, the vegetation in this region consisted of oak savanna and southern oak forest. The remaining forest cover is generally broad-leaved deciduous forest. Oak is the predominant hardwood with maple replacing some of the oak stands following logging. Extensive stands of bottomland hardwoods such as elm and cottonwood are found in the vicinity of the Black and Mississippi Rivers. The State's Managed Forest Law (MFL) program is available to landowners with 10 or more contiguous acres of forestland. Participating landowners must agree to a forest management plan that includes harvesting at least 80 percent of their forest area. In exchange, their land is taxed at a rate below the state average. There are 379 private acres within Shelby that are enrolled in the program.

Woodlands perform important aesthetic, environmental, and ecological functions. The Town and County's scenic wooded covered hills and coulees are one of the most attractive features of the landscape and have a major impact on residents and tourists alike. Woodlands also provide important settings, backdrops, and screens for homes, businesses, farms, roads, and shorelines. This creates an attractive landscape that benefits the economy and aesthetics of the County. In addition woodlands generate or contribute to energy, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon cycles. They also provide essential habitats for numerous varieties of plants and animals and can mitigate the destructive affects of erosion, pollution, and severe weather.

Surface Water


The Town of Shelby is located within the La Crosse-Bad Axe River Basin. The Mississippi River comprises a major portion of the western border of the Town. Mormon Creek, Pammel Creek and Chipmunk Creek are the major surface water resources within the Town. Mormon Creek has been designated as a Class II Trout Stream. The La Crosse River and 34 other creeks account for the remaining surface waters in the County. In total, the County has 273 miles of stream, or 983 surface acres, excluding any portion of the Mississippi River.

The region's surface waters are among the most popular environmental resources from a recreational and aesthetic perspective. There are few natural inland lakes in La Crosse County, but the adjoining surface waters of the Mississippi River, Black River, Lake Onalaska, and Lake Neshonoc are the biggest contributors to surface water recreation. Collectively these waterways cover over 16,460 acres of surface water in the County.








Table 5.3:

Features within the La Crosse-Bad Axe Basin



Water Body

Water within the La Crosse- Bad Axe River Basin
  Little La Crosse River Watershed
    La Crosse River Dutch Creek
    Big Creek Burns Creek
    Fish Creek Adams Creek
    Prairie Creek Lake Neshonoc
  Lower La Crosse River Watershed
    La Crosse River Pleasant Valley Creek
    Neshonoc Creek Bostwick Creek
    Larson Coulee Creek Smith Valley Creek
    Gills Coulee Creek Pammel Creek
  Coon Creek Watershed
    Berge Coulee Creek Mormon Creek
    Coon Creek Chipmunk Coulee Creek


Source: SAA, 2005



The Town and County lie in the heart of the driftless area, which covers southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, and northeast Iowa. This area was missed by the most recent glacial advance but was highly dissected by the glacial melt water created 11,000 years ago by the retreating glacier. The scenic ridges and valleys created by this melt water were named coulees by early French settlers resulting in this area becoming known as the "Coulee Region". Many of the ridges have bluffs of exposed dolmite limestone and sandstone outcroppings.


Steep Slopes


The Environmental Features Map 5.3 illustrates areas with slopes of 20 percent or greater. Topography in the Town of Shelby is characterized by steep slopes throughout the Town that range from 20 to 90%, and narrow valleys and ridge tops.

Steep slopes are environmentally sensitive from a water quality perspective because increased erosion potential and stormwater runoff occur when these slopes are developed. The detrimental effect of stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as rooftops and driveways increases greatly when such surfaces are constructed on steep slopes. Disturbed vegetation and poorly designed implemented landscape cause profoundly increased erosion and dramatically degrade the water quality of run off. La Crosse County has many creeks, some of which support trout fisheries. All of these creeks, as well as the larger rivers and lakes, are potential receptors of runoff from development on steep slopes. The water quality of these rivers and creeks provides biologic, recreational, and aesthetic benefits. The creeks classified as trout streams, in particular, make handling of runoff from development on steep slopes especially critical if these sensitive aquatic environments are to be maintained or enhanced.

To protect the area's rivers, lakes, and streams from excessive stormwater runoff, the County Land Conservation Department enforces a construction site erosion control ordinance that requires approval of an erosion control plan prior to construction activity taking place. This ordinance also prohibits construction activity from occurring on slopes of 30 percent or greater. Increased erosion control measures are required in this ordinance when slopes of 20 percent or greater are to be disturbed. In addition to erosion, sedimentation, and water quality problems, development on steep slopes can impair the natural beauty and viewsheds in the area. When development occurs on steep slopes, or on ridge tops, the aesthetic or visual character of the area is degraded because the development tends to dominate the viewshed.


Wildlife, Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species


According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, there are 25 endangered and threatened species within the Town. The species include certain plants, fish, and amphibians. Over the last few decades the communities within the County have experienced changes in the composition of their animal and plant life. Historically the majority of changes occurred through human encroachment and consequent disturbance to the wildlife and its habitat. Land uses that have drastically altered the natural environment such as the cutting of forests, wetland drainage, agriculture, and increased urbanization have resulted in the reduction of the quantity and quality of habitat for many species. This reduction in habitat has also resulted in the near extirpation or elimination of some species.

The U.S. government, in an attempt to protect biological resources, enacted the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. The Act essentially prohibits the taking of a threatened or endangered species or its habitat. Wisconsin, in accordance with the ESA, has developed the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Working Lists. The Wisconsin Natural Heritage Working Lists contains species known or suspected to be rare in the state. The list and a map depicting the general location of these rare species can be viewed on the DNR website (


Open Spaces, Environmental Corridors, and Environmentally Significant Areas

Environmental corridors are continuous systems of open space under public or private ownership include environmentally sensitive lands, floodplains, wetlands, and natural resources requiring protection from disturbance and development, and land specifically designated for open space or recreational use. Important environmental corridors that are suitable for preservation include the river and stream corridors, the bluffs, the coulees, and the important wildlife habitats located throughout the Town. Main corridors in the area connect the Town to nearby communities, particularly the Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Over 2,200 acres of this 46,000 acres reserve are within the Town borders. Another corridor that crosses jurisdictions are the bluffs located in the eastern portion of the Town. Those bluffs are unique to this region of the State, and create a natural identity for the region.

Open space can be valuable just for its existence, regardless of ownership or public entry and use provisions. The sweeping vistas, wooded hillsides, and rolling hills provide a visual recreation and relaxation that is highly prized by both residents and visitors to the Town of Shelby. The Mississippi River bottom lands, including Goose Island County Park are significant tracts of publicly owned open space. A land use analysis of the Town, with land use data from the La Crosse County Wisconsin Development Plan 2020, shows that 40% of lands in the Town or 7,602 acres are either wetlands, idle open space, or woodlands, a significant amount considering the Town is often perceived as urban due to its location adjacent to La Crosse.


Mining and Non-Metallic Mineral Resources

There are 15 registered non-metallic mining sites with La Crosse County; there are no active mining sites within the Town of Shelby.


Cultural Resources

Historic Structures and Places
There are numerous historic properties and sites in the Town of Shelby that are an important part of its historical past. As of 2005, there were four sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the Town of Shelby and four sites designated on the State Register of Historic Places.

Table 5.4: State and National Registered Historic Places in the Town of Shelby



Chambers--Markle Farmstead 6104 WI 35
District School No. 1 US 14/61 E of Jct. with WI 35
Mundstock, Carl August, Farm US 14/61, N side, E of jct. with WI 35
Overhead Site Address Restricted

Source: Wisconsin Historic Society

In addition to these sites, there are 43 sites in the Town that are listed as local historic resources in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Architecture and History Inventory (AHI) database. These include the following:

Table 5.5: Summary of Other Historic Places



Peter Keinholz Farmstead W4760 US Highway 14/61
Robert Hoeth House W5120 US Highway 14/61
Frederick Gabel House State Highway 35
H. Stroch Farm W4511 State Highway 33
Mormon Coulee Methodist Episcopal Cemetery W4607 US Highway 14/61

Source: Wisconsin Historic Society



Archaeological Resources


Native Americans inhabited the La Crosse County area for twelve thousand years prior to the arrival of the first white settlers. Archaeological survey and excavations have documented the presence of Paleoindian and Archaic camps, Woodland villages and mounds, and extensive Oneota agricultural villages. The latter includes cemeteries, long houses, and an elaborate ridge field system. Many of the archaeological sites have been documented by the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center (MVAC), which has displays open to the public at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. As of 2005, over 1,000 archaeological sites have been recorded in La Crosse County, and 24 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Under Wisconsin law, Stat. 157.70 all burial sites, including Native American mounds, and both marked and unmarked burials, are protected from encroachment by any type of development.


Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

Goals and objectives identify what the plan should accomplish. Goals are statements that describe a desired future condition, often in general terms. Objectives are statements that describe a specific future condition to be attained, to reach the established goals.

Recommendations identify the action necessary to achieve goals and objectives. For this reason, recommendations should be actionable, attainable, and specific. Not all recommendations can be achieved in the short-term, so they should be specific enough so that any individual or group wishing to achieve a stated goal can take action.

The following goals, objectives, and recommendations were jointly developed by the Town of Shelby Land Use Planning Committee and its consultants.


Environmental Resources Goal: Coordinate public and private sector actions and efforts to protect bluffs, floodplains, wetlands, groundwater, woodlands, prime agricultural soils and the habitats of threatened and endangered species.


Protect various environmental resources that help define the Shelby area.

Ensure valuable resources, such as groundwater, are protected from the effects of stormwater runoff that may occur with new development.

Protect the aesthetic nature of rural Shelby as distinct from the more urbanized areas.


Review existing ordinances to determine their effectiveness.

Promote awareness of voluntary easement programs and direct willing land owners to existing resources.

Promote best management practices (BMPs) and sustainable development that does not substantially alter the character of Shelby.

Encourage active agriculture in select areas throughout the town.


Cultural Resources Goal: Preserve cultural, historic, and archeological resources within the town.


To preserve historic places and structures within the community.

To maintain the ongoing historical context of Shelby.



Encourage preservation of natural and historic areas. Work with the La Crosse County Historical Society to identify and record historically significant properties.

Disseminate information on historical preservation tax credits and other programs designed to help property owners maintain their historic property.

Encourage local historic societies, Chambers of Commerce, and agencies such as UW-Extension to create a map and database of historical sites.

Identify archaeological sites and require deed restrictions and disturbance limitations to protect the archaeological significance of the site.



This element includes existing conditions, goals, objectives, and recommendations to help guide development of economic resources within the town. This element also includes an assessment of local strengths and weaknesses with respect to attracting and retaining businesses.


Existing Conditions

Education Level of Labor Force

The labor force in Shelby has a high level of educational attainment as demonstrated below.


Table 6.1: Educational Levels, 2000


Town of Shelby

Town of Medary

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County

Population 25 Years and Over











































































Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000



Participation in Labor Force

Of those 16 years and over that are active in the labor force only 2.6% percent are currently without a job. The Town of Shelby is experiencing exceptionally strong employment numbers, as almost 98 percent of their residents are employed.


Table 6.2: Workforce Participation, 2000



Town of Shelby

Town of Medary

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County

Population 16 Years and Over













































Unemployment Rate





Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000


Employment Statistics

The majority of the labor force in the Town derives their income from private companies. The figure below outlines the various sources of income. The largest income generator is the private sector employees, followed by government workers who account for nearly 16 percent of the labor force.


Table 6.3: Employment by Employer Type



Private Company



Unpaid Family Worker






La Crosse County










Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000





Table 6.4: Employment by Occupation, 2000


Town of Shelby

Town of Campbell

City of La Crosse

La Crosse County

Employed civilian population 16 years and over

































































Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000

Over 50% of the Town's workforce is employed in management or professional related occupations. This is significantly higher than the percentage found in other parts of the County. Less than one percent of the Town is involved in farming, fishing or forestry occupations.



Table 6.5: Average Annual Wages for La Crosse County Employees 2003


Average Annual Wage

All Industries


Natural Resources






Trade, Transportation, Utilities




Financial Activities


Professional & Business Services


Education & Health


Leisure & Hospitality


Other Services


Public Administration


Source: State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, 2003


Economic Base

Table 10.6 lists the top ten industry groups by employment for La Crosse County in March 2003. Two (2) industry types experienced employment increases between 2002 and 2003; most of the gains were in health care, and finance. Six (6) industry types were down in 2003; most of these job losses were in wholesaling, and merchandising. Data was unavailable for two (2) of the ten (10) industry types.


Table 6.6: Top Industry Groups: La Crosse County

March 2003

Number change




Educational Services




Food Services and Drinking Places








Ambulatory Health Care Services




Machinery Manufacturing




Administrative and Support Services




Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods




Credit Intermediation and Related Activity




General Merchandise Stores




Nursing and Residential Care Facilities




Source: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, 2003


Table 6.7: Top Employers in La Crosse County


Gundersen Lutheran 5,000 FTE employees Health Care
Trane 2,500 FTE employees Manufacturer
Franciscan Skemp Healthcare/Mayo Health System 2,350 FTE employees Health Care
Kwik Trip 900 FTE employees Convenience Store
CenturyTel 830 FTE employees Telephone Utility
The Company Store 567 FTE employees Manufacturer
APAC Customer Service 500 FTE employees Telephone & Telecommunications
Dairyland Power Cooperative 425 FTE employees Electric Utility
Bethany-St. Joseph Corp. 420 FTE employees Nursing Home
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad 400 FTE employees Rail Transport


County of La Crosse 1,100 FTE employees Government
School District of La Crosse 1,060 FTE employees Education
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 1,000 FTE employees Education
City of La Crosse 525 FTE employees Government
School District of Holmen 449 FTE employees Education
Western Technical College 418 FTE employees Education

Source: La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce. 2005

Environmentally Contaminated Sites

The Comprehensive Planning Law requires communities to evaluate and promote the use of environmentally contaminated sites for commercial or industrial uses. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Environmental Remediation and Redevelopment Program maintains a list of contaminated sites, or brownfields. The DNR identifies brownfields as "abandoned or under-utilized commercial or industrial properties where expansion or redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived contamination." Properties listed in the DNR database are self-reported and do not represent a comprehensive listing of possible brownfields in a community. Other state and federal databases may provide more comprehensive lists for the Town. As of January 2006, there were no sites in the Town was listed on the Bureau for Remediation and Redevelopment Tracking System (BRRTS).


Employment Projections

The State of Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development's "La Crosse County Workforce Profile" provides insight into the regional employment forecast for the County. This section illustrates employment forecasts for the La Crosse County area and for the entire State of Wisconsin.

Table 10.8 lists the top 10 occupations experiencing the fastest growth rates and the most job openings in Western Wisconsin. Many of the fastest growing occupations fall into either the "management, professional or related occupations" category or the "service" category, and there is a particular growth trend in computer software and support occupations as well as medical support occupations. The areas with the most openings are generally "service occupations," with some exceptions.

Table 6.8: Western Region Occupation Projections: 2010



Top Ten Occupations

Education & Training Typically Required

Average Wage

Computer Support Specialists Associate degree $16.65
Network Systems/Data Communications Analysis Bachelor's degree $23.49
Medical Records/Health Info Techs Associate degree $11.43
Medical Assistants 1-12 mo. on-the-job $10.61
Personal and Home Care Aides 1-month or less training $8.25
Computer/Information Systems Managers Work experience & degree $29.77
Social/Human Service Assistants 1-12 mo. on-the-job $12.30
Computer Systems Analysts Bachelor's degree $24.14
Home Health Aides 1-month or less training $9.03
Dental Assistants 1-12 mo. on-the-job $10.93
Combination Food Preparation/Service Workers Including Fast Food 1-month or less training $6.91
Cashiers 1-month or less training $7.60
Retail Salespersons 1-month or less training $9.04
Waiters/Waitresses 1-month or less training $7.55
Registered Nurses Bachelor's degree $20.23
Truck Drivers/Heavy/Tractor-Trailer 1-12 mo. on-the-job $20.88
Janitors/Cleaners, Maids/Housekeepers 1-month or less training $9.42
Office Clerks/General 1-month or less training $10.27
Bartenders 1-month or less training $7.41
Nursing Aids/Orderlies/Attendants 1-month or less training $9.95


Source: WI DWD, Bureau of Workforce Information, 2002


Strengths and Weaknesses for Economic Development

Strengths: The Town enjoys local access to the regional highway system. USH 14/61 and STH 35 both traverse Town boundaries, and provide access to other more regional transportation networks including freight, rail, and shipping facilities in nearby communities. Shelby also provides plenty of undeveloped land that could be utilized by both developing industries and residential contractors to provide corporate campus-type development. Close proximity to other industries within La Crosse County is also a local attribute.

Weaknesses: Meetings on the preparation of this Plan with the Plan Commission and residents of the community revealed the economic development outlook for the Town is less than it could be because of the lack of localized water or sewer system. Many noted that business owners, industries, and commercial uses require pressurized water systems to ensure sufficient product delivery and timely service provision. The Town is also located within a region that contains many other municipalities with more advanced service capacity, including the City of La Crosse that also provides direct access to Interstate 90.

Desired Businesses

Preferred business types are of a smaller scale mixed use nature along main arterials.


Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

Goals and objectives identify what the plan should accomplish. Goals are statements that describe a desired future condition, often in general terms. Objectives are statements that describe a specific future condition to be attained, to reach the established goals.

Recommendations identify the action necessary to achieve goals and objectives. For this reason, recommendations should be actionable, attainable, and specific. Not all recommendations can be achieved in the short-term, so they should be specific enough so that any individual or group wishing to achieve a stated goal can take action.

The following goals, objectives, and recommendations were jointly developed by the Town of Shelby Land Use Planning Committee and its consultants.

Economic Development Goal: Participate in ongoing efforts to promote economic growth in the region.


Define the types of business growth that are desired and appropriate in Shelby.

Define the types of business growth that are desired and appropriate in the Region.

Define, preserve, and enhance the unique aspects of Shelby that contribute to the overall quality of life that and the region's ability to attract and maintain businesses.



Promote sustainable development, energy conservation, and green building techniques in new commercial development.

Promote small commercial "cottage" business in allowed areas designated by this Comprehensive Plan.




Intergovernmental cooperation is a critical component of this planning effort and the future well-being of the Town of Shelby. Local services and planning strategies can be strengthened by cooperative relationships with neighboring communities. This chapter contains an overview of the Town's intergovernmental relationships and identifies known existing or potential conflicts between this Comprehensive Plan and the plans of local cities, villages, towns, School Districts, the State of Wisconsin, and important federal agencies that maintain a presence in the area.


This chapter also contains goals, objectives, and recommendations for maintaining or enhancing intergovernmental relationships.



Existing relationships between the Town of Shelby and each of the surrounding or overlapping jurisdictions are described below. A process for resolving conflicts is detailed at the end of this element.



Existing Relationships


Surrounding Municipalities




The Town has enjoyed good relationships with adjacent towns. The Town of Greenfield and Shelby are currently working to develop a shared Fire Station.



County Government


La Crosse County


La Crosse County encompasses 481 square miles and is located in western Wisconsin along the Mississippi River. The County's 2004 population was estimated at 109,616. La Crosse County is approximately 150 miles southeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, 175 miles from Waterloo, Iowa, and 145 miles from Madison, WI. The County is comprised of 18 local units of government: 12 towns, 4 Towns, and 2 cities. Interstate 90 and the La Crosse River bisect the County from east to west. Trempealeau and Jackson County border La Crosse County to the north, Monroe County lies to the East, Vernon County lies to the south, and the Mississippi River and Minnesota lie to the west. The County is currently working on an updated Comprehensive Plan, which is an update to the County's existing plan, the La Crosse County Development Plan 2020. In addition, the County has adopted numerous other plans, studies, and ordinances that provide policy and direction to local communities, such as Shelby, including:


La Crosse County, Wisconsin Farmland Preservation Plan, 1980


La Crosse County Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, 1998


La Crosse County Land & Water Resource Management Plan, 1999


Zoning Ordinance (for unincorporated areas)


Land Division Ordinance



La Crosse County is also party to general cooperative agreements for fire, police, rescue, road maintenance, solid waste, recycling, and other services with several towns, villages, and cities in the County. La Crosse County enforces shoreland zoning within the Town.





Regional Planning Jurisdiction




The Town of Shelby is located within the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission's (MRRPC) jurisdiction. The MRRPC prepares and adopts regional or county-wide plans and represents Pierce, Pepin, Buffalo, Trempealeau, La Crosse, Vernon, Crawford, Jackson, and Monroe counties. The RPC was established to:



Carry out comprehensive and intergovernmental planning;


Have jurisdiction throughout the seven-county area, including incorporated and unincorporated areas;


Meet area-wide requirements so local jurisdictions could receive federal grants;


Provide an organization to receive federal grants.



The MRRPC is currently working with La Crosse County to update their Comprehensive Plan. Shelby is also located within the Western Wisconsin Technology Zone which allows up to $5M in state income tax credits and is administered by the MRRPC. The MRRPC also administers the La Crosse County Business Fund.



MRRPC recently completed the La Crosse County Outdoor Recreation Plan 2006-2010, which contains the following recommendations for Shelby:


Pammel Creek Park: develop a play area, walkways, and construct a shelter


Breidel Coulee Park: purchase playground equipment




Important State and Federal Agency Jurisdictions


There are many state and federal agencies that affect planning in La Crosse County. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) District 5 plays a critical role in many aspects of the County's transportation system, from highway design and development to bicycle and pedestrian facilities and networks. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also has a prominent role in the County because of the many DNR-owned land and facilities that are located here. The University of Wisconsin Extension office is located in the City of La Crosse and serves as an educational resource for County residents. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a presence in the County because of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers also maintains a presence in the County because of their ownership and management of locks and dams along the Mississippi River, which borders the western edge of the County. The County and its local units of government recognize the importance of working with these state and federal agencies, and are committed to continuing an ongoing dialogue with these agencies, both during and after the development of this Comprehensive Plan.



Shelby communicates with state and federal agencies on an as-needed basis. For the comprehensive planning process, state agencies may be asked to review the plan documents as follows:


WisDOT: review the Transportation Element and provide planning expertise and comments, particularly regarding development and related planning for USH 14/61 and STHs 35/31, which traverse Town boundaries.


WDNR: review the Agricultural, Natural, and Cultural Resources Element regarding protection techniques for Shelby's existing natural resources.




School Districts


The Town continues to have an informal and engaged relationship with both school districts serving Shelby (School District of La Crosse; West Salem School District).




Existing or Potential Conflicts and Processes to Resolve Conflicts


Concern regarding annexation of Town lands because of Shelby's inability to expand sanitary sewer services is an ongoing issue. Consideration of a long-term boundary agreement with the City is one manner to resolve this conflict.




Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

Goals and objectives identify what the plan should accomplish. Goals are statements that describe a desired future condition, often in general terms. Objectives are statements that describe a specific future condition to be attained, to reach the established goals.

Recommendations identify the action necessary to achieve goals and objectives. For this reason, recommendations should be actionable, attainable, and specific. Not all recommendations can be achieved in the short-term, so they should be specific enough so that any individual or group wishing to achieve a stated goal can take action.

The following goals, objectives, and recommendations were jointly developed by the Town of Shelby Land Use Planning Committee and its consultants.


Intergovernmental Cooperation – Boundary Protection Goal. Limit the further erosion of the Town's land area, real property tax base, or population, by annexation especially when the principal reason for property annexation is to receive urban utility services of water and sanitary sewer.


Encourage development of areas adjacent to the City of La Crosse.

Encourage cooperative efforts between Shelby and neighboring municipalities to explore opportunities for shared services.


Improve Shelby's long-term Land Use Planning and capital improvements programming efforts throughout the Town.

Consider areas where Shelby can assist developments which will remain in the Town – such as financing, help for sewer/septic systems and water management.

Continue efforts to increase the relationship of the Town with the City of La Crosse and surrounding municipalities. These efforts may include the development of a cooperative boundary agreement.


1. Introduction

The Land Use Plan consists of the following elements:


Existing Conditions

Opportunities for Redevelopment

Land Use Projections

Future Land Use Policies

Future Land Use Districts

Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

This element of the Comprehensive Plan contains existing conditions, goals, objectives, policies, and recommendations to guide the future development and redevelopment of public and private property in Shelby. This chapter also explains future land use designations and describes these uses on the Future Land Use Map (located in the appendix).

2. Existing Conditions

Existing Land Use Patterns

Town estimates from May 2006 indicate a total land area of 18,521 acres. As shown in Table 8.1, Woodlands are prevalent throughout the local landscape with almost 44% (8,110 acres) of the total land area within the township. Agricultural uses are the next most common with 3,539 acres (19%). Rounding out the top five are Water (15%), Wetlands (8%), and Single-Family Residential (5%). See Map 8.1 for geographic orientation of land uses.

Table 8.1: Existing Land Use Table


Town of Shelby

Land Use Type

# of Acres


Single-Family Residential



Multi-Family Residential



Mobile Homes













































Source: La Crosse County Planning Department (2003),

SAA delineation and tabulation (2006)


Existing Densities

The Town of Shelby has a density of 183.2 people per square mile. There are 71 housing units per square mile in the Town. This density rate is nearly double that of the Town of Medary, but is significantly less dense than the Town of Campbell. The density rate for the entire County is 236.6 people per square mile and 96 households per square mile.

Table 8.2: Population and Household Density, 2000



Area in Square Miles

Density (Sq. Mi of Land Area)


Housing Units*

Total Area

Water Area

Land Area


Housing Units

Shelby town








Medary town








City of La Crosse








La Crosse County








Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000

* Housing Unit - A house, an apartment, a mobile home or trailer, a group of rooms, or a single room occupied as separate living quarters, or if vacant, intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. Current estimates indicate the total number of housing units in Shelby is 1,970.

Intensity of Non-Residential Use

Intensity refers to height, bulk, and use associated with non-residential development. In Shelby, this is regulated through the County Zoning ordinance. Table 8.3 indicates the zoning districts that are located throughout the Town. See Map 8.2.

Table 8.3: Non Residential Zoning Classifications

Non Residential Zoning District

Summary and Description

Commercial A (CA) Commercial A is the most restrictive district of non-agriculture / non-residential zoning districts in the County. A wide range of uses are allowed by right including small retail stores, gas stations, restaurants, grocery and motels. A maximum height limit of three stories or 45 feet is allowed.
Commercial B (CB) This is the second most restrictive district of the three non-agriculture / non-residential zoning districts in the County. A wide range of uses are allowed by right including feed mills, hotels, newsstands, and animal hospitals. A maximum height limit of three stories or 45 feet is allowed.
Commercial C (CC) This zoning district permits uses allowed in the Commercial B and more intensive uses including: a) Wholesale warehouses, truck terminals, and freight houses, b) Storage plants (not including junk yards), c) Bakeries, printing plants, laboratories, d) Woodworking and sheet metal fabrication plants The maximum height allowed is three stories or 45 feet.
Industrial (I) The industrial district allows a wide variety of industrial, warehousing, commercial and related uses. The maximum height for this district is 60' or 5 stories. In addition, the ordinance specifically states that the following several uses are only allowed with additional hearing and review.

Source: La Crosse County Zoning Code


Land Use Supply

The supply of land to support development is based on several factors including physical suitability, local and county regulations, and community goals. Intergovernmental agreements and annexations also become considerations when looking at the available land supply at the community level. Based on physical suitability, there is an available supply of land that could be used to support development in the Town. Local policy will more closely determine how this supply is defined and how it is used. Of particular interest are those parcels zoned "Transitional Agriculture," as those acres can be converted to other non-agricultural uses. Policy will help determine whether these acres contribute to the supply for planned development in the short and long term.

Land Use Demand

Direct highway access and available land have made this an accessible location for suburban growth in the region. The southern part of the metropolitan region may become a growth focus as lot prices increase and build-out occurs to the north. Other factors, including proximity to the City of La Crosse may also fuel growth in and around Shelby. Additionally, when considering Town growth demand, it is important to look at annexation trends for land previously in the Town. Local-level data for all communities listed in Table 8.4 were not available after 1997. This information is included to demonstrate the different rates of growth or annexation experienced between the comparables listed.

Table 8.4: Historic Growth and Growth and Annexation, 1990 - 1997


Number of Housing Units*




Town of Shelby







Town of Campbell







Town of Medary







All towns in La Crosse County







Source: Wisconsin Town Land Use Data Project: Program on Agricultural Technology Studies, UW-Madison

* Housing Unit - A house, an apartment, a mobile home or trailer, a group of rooms, or a single room occupied as separate living quarters, or if vacant, intended for occupancy as separate living quarters.

Land Prices

One method to analyze comparative land prices is to look at the cost of farmland for Towns in the area. Table 8.5 shows average farmland sales for the Towns of Shelby, Campbell, Medary and the average of all towns in La Crosse County from 1990-1997. Data for the communities listed were not available subsequent to 1997 for this analysis.

Table 8.5: Average Farmland Sales 1990-1997

  Number of parcels sold Total acres Acres continuing in agriculture Acres converted out of agriculture $/acre of land continuing in agriculture $/acre of land converted out of agriculture 1990 acres of farmland % sold and converted 1990-1997
Town of Shelby









Town of Campbell









Town of Medary









La Crosse County









Source: Wisconsin Town Land Use Data Project: Program on Agricultural Technology Studies, UW-Madison

3. Opportunities for Redevelopment

Redevelopment opportunities exist in portions of the Town located along 14/61 & 35 and in areas of "town islands."

4. Future Land Use Projections

Two sets of growth projections have been prepared using different sources. The first set of projections is based on state growth estimates and current Town development densities. Based on these figures, the Town is projected to need an additional 140 acres for new development over the next twenty years. Although population projections indicate a small decrease over the next 20 years, a small increase in households is projected for Shelby. That explains why small amounts of residential growth are projected. These calculations are based on the following sources and assumptions:

State of Wisconsin- DOA Population and Household Growth Projections;

Residential density is based on number of housing units per acre in the year 2000;

Commercial and industrial use projections are based on the ratio of these uses to residential uses in the year 2000 (assuming a land use pattern similar to what exists currently is desired in the future).

For the second set, a different methodology was used. In preparation of the previous plan, the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission projected growth by reviewing building permits. Their methodology was based on building permits issued over a five year period and projected the following: 500 new single family dwellings, 10 industrial buildings, 75 commercial buildings. This "building permit" based scenario was applied to existing Town densities to create the set of projections indicated in Table 8.6.


Table 8.6: Land Use Projections – Additional Acres Needed for Development






Estimated Total

Projected New Acres of Development Based on Long Term Historic Growth (DOA-based)



















Agriculture/Open Space






Growth Based on Recent Building Permit Data (MRRPC-based)



















Agriculture / Open Space






Source: Schreiber/Anderson Associates, 2005

Both projection methodologies anticipate growth over the 20-year planning period. The DOA projection provides a more conservative estimate because it uses a decades-long historical approach and careful analysis concerning future demographic trends. The MRRPC method relies on a relatively brief snapshot in history to make a 20-year estimate on growth based upon observations from the "snapshot". Both projects hold value for the Town of Shelby, and each should be consulted when making long-term decisions. The projections indicate the Town of Shelby should generally plan to accommodate between 142 and 585 additional acres of residential, commercial, and industrial land over the next 20 years. More than likely, the actual rate of growth will fall somewhere between the two projections.


5. Future Land Use Policies

Policies in this section are divided into two categories: 1) Area policies; and, 2) General policies. The area policies relate to policies for specific geographic areas. General policies apply throughout the town unless specifically identified. These policies were developed through careful consideration by the Shelby Land Use Planning Committee.

General Policies

1. No structure shall be built on a slope of greater than 30%.  Limit development on slopes greater than 20%.  Prior to construction, site plans shall be developed to provide for drainage on and off the site to protect subject site and neighboring properties.

2. Areas adjacent to developed areas and able to be serviced by a municipal sanitary sewer shall be allowed to be developed as "Single Family 1" up to 5 homes per acre, to complement existing or proposed adjacent development.

3. Areas currently zoned Residential A or Residential B wil be allowed to develop as "Single Family 1" up to 4 homes per acre.

4. Areas currently zoned Agricultural A or Agricultural B will be allowed to develop as "Single Family 1" up to 2 homes per acre.

5. Areas currently zoned Exclusive or Transitional Agricultural shall be allowed to develop as Rural Residential 1 (1 home per 10 acres), or Conservation Development (1 home per 5 acres).  Proposed Cluster Developments with greater density may be considered by the Planning Commission and Town Board as exceptions.

6. Areas adjacent to or within one-half mile of the City of La Crosse shall be allowed to develop as Single Family 1.  Shelby will define this to allow up to 3 homes per acre, to complement existing or proposed adjacent development.

7. Special provisions for parcels less than 50 acres will be handled as exceptions on a case-by-case basis by the Planning Commission and Town Board.

Area Policies

Encourage Conservation Development

Basic idea of one home per 10 acres, doubled to one home per five acres if conservation development is used. Gross acreage will be used, not net developable acreage.

Density will be one home per 10 acres or one home per five developable acres if conservation development concept is used. Maximum numbers of homes is the larger of each calculation.


100 acre parcel 100 acre parcel

70% slope/wet lands 30% slope/wet lands

30% developable 70% developable

Gross 10 home sites 10 home sites

Net 6 home sites 14 home sites

Town Island and Boschert Addition Area

This area is fully developed – develop as currently zoned.

Hanifl Road

Fully developed to remain "as is" within flood plain.

6. Future Land Use Districts

The following categories are included in the Town of Shelby Future Land Use Map. A description of each category is included below.

Agricultural and Rural District. This district is established for areas in which agricultural and certain compatible low intensity uses are encouraged as the principal uses of land. Preferred agricultural uses in Shelby include:

General Agricultural Areas. This category indicates other rural and agricultural areas that are not designated as planned exclusive agriculture areas. New residential development should be limited to a density of one home per 20 acres. However, this district does not require a 20 acre minimum lot size. Splits and land divisions within this category will be limited to one split per five years. Lot size and physical constraints will be determined by local and County ordinances. New developments are strongly encouraged to utilize cluster and conservation housing principles.

Environmental District. This district includes areas where special protection is encouraged because of unique landscape, topographical features, wildlife, or historical value. They contain the best remaining woodlands and wetlands, wildlife habitats, undeveloped shorelands and floodlands, groundwater recharge and discharge areas, and steeply sloped lands in the County. In developed areas, this designation also refers to parks and open spaces used for recreation or environmental purposes.

Non Residential District. A non-residential district includes uses that are business related, including commercial, retail, or industrial. Zoning for these areas is established to provide separation from incompatible uses, which may include residential neighborhoods. Preferred non-residential development in the Town of Shelby includes the following type:

Mixed Use. Mixed-use development refers to the practice of containing more than one type of use in a building or set of buildings. This includes a combination of residential, commercial, industrial, office, institutional, or other uses.

Single-Family Residential District. A single-family home is a detached, free-standing residential structure. Preferred single-family residential development in the Town of Shelby includes the following:

Rural Residential 1. This district is generally intended to preserve agricultural lands and provide for very low-density rural, single-family detached residential development at a density of approximately 1 dwelling unit per 10 acres.

Conservation Subdivision. Wisconsin's Comprehensive Planning Law (s. 66.1001) defines a conservation subdivision as "a housing development in a rural setting that is characterized by compact lots and common open space, and where the natural features of land are maintained to the greatest extent possible." Conservation subdivisions allow for an adjustment in the location of residential dwelling units on a parcel of land so long as the total number of dwelling units does not exceed the number of units otherwise permitted in the zoning district. The dwelling units are grouped or "clustered" on only a portion of a parcel of land. The remainder of the site is preserved as open space, farmland, or as an environmentally and culturally sensitive area. The clustering of the dwellings into a small area is made possible by reducing the individual lot sizes. The open space is permanently protected and held in common ownership.

Conservation subdivisions are an alternative approach to conventional lot-by-lot division of land in rural areas which spreads development evenly throughout a parcel with little regard to the impact on the natural and cultural features of the area. Conservation subdivisions enable a developer to concentrate units on the most buildable portion of a site, preserving natural drainage systems, open space, and environmentally and culturally sensitive areas.


7. Land Use Goals, Objectives, and Recommendations

Goals and objectives identify what the plan should accomplish. Goals are statements that describe a desired future condition, often in general terms. Objectives are statements that describe a specific future condition to be attained, to reach the established goals.

Recommendations identify the action necessary to achieve goals and objectives. For this reason, recommendations should be actionable, attainable, and specific. Not all recommendations can be achieved in the short-term, so they should be specific enough so that any individual or group wishing to achieve a stated goal can take action.

The following goals, objectives, and recommendations have been grouped into categories. These categories relate to a specific characteristic of growth within Shelby. Language for this section was jointly developed by the Town of Shelby Land Use Planning Committee and its consultants.


Rural Area Growth Goal: Maintain the primary rural and agricultural character as much as practical through existing Exclusive Agricultural and Agricultural Transition zoning and land division controls while allowing for planned development so long as it does not alter the rural character of this area.



Preserve Shelby's "green space", promote low impact development.

Include additional green space in new development.

Recognize that many portions of the Town have areas of highly productive soils and have continuing agricultural operations. Maintain State Farmland Preservation Program participation.

Discourage development of single homes on large lots. Consider options for conservation development.



Limit housing density on land currently zoned Exclusive Agricultural and TransitionalAgricultural  to 1 home per 10 acres.

Encourage conservation development through incentives such as doubling the allowable density to 1 home per 5 acres if 60-80% of the site will be preserved as open space.

Allow higher density cluster housing development in areas currently zoned Residential A or B or Agricultural A, in areas adjacent to existing developments or  within one-half mile of the City of La Crosse.  Encourage buffering, vegetation cover and maintenance of surrounding woodlands, etc.

Amend zoning to require design guidelines that include site designs, drainage plans, signage, construction material standards, landscape designs and erosion control.

Maintain the rustic road characteristics adjacent to the Skyline Drive and North Chipmunk Coulee corridors.


Sanitary Sewer Service Area Growth Goal: Continue to support an urban/suburban mixed use of smaller lot size residences, estate lots, and a mix of retail, wholesale, light industrial uses, and existing mobile home parks.


Allow a greater range of lot sizes within areas served by sanitary sewer.

Seek cooperative boundary agreements that further protect these areas from annexation.


Allow residential density of up to 5 homes per acre in areas currently served by sanitary sewer or easily connected to existing sanitary sewer services.

Encourage development in urban/suburban mixed areas along major transportation routes to factor the impacts of the development on traffic flow and volume.

Ensure adjacent land uses are compatible with proposed development.

Explore opportunities for creative wastewater treatment alternatives including low-pressure systems, methane recovery, and other new technologies.


Regional Entrance Goal: Promote Shelby's unique role as the southern entrance to the greater La Crosse urban area via the Great River Road and USH 14/61.


Promote a semi-rural residential alternative for the south side of the urban area.

Maintain agricultural zoning along STH 35.


1. Limit development density to 1 home per 10 acres (1 home per 5 acres if conservation development is used). Establish buffers and set backs where needed to preserve the visual environment.

2. Restrict signage.



The implementation of the Town of Shelby comprehensive plan involves decision-making by both public officials and the citizens of the community. These decisions will be measured by the concern for the welfare of the general community; the willingness to make substantial investments for improvement within the community, and the realization that certain procedures must be followed and adhered to for the continued high quality environment found within the Town. Suggested implementation measures include:

The implementation and enforcement of regulatory ordinances and non-regulatory activities based on the goals and objectives identified in the comprehensive plan.

The development of programs and support systems that further the goals and objectives set forth by the Town in this plan.

The establishment and support of a continued planning process providing for periodic review and updates to the plan and land use control measures.

The support of committees and local organizations to carry out specific community improvements as identified in the comprehensive plan.

Summary of Key Planning Issues and Opportunities

The following list summarizes many of the key issues identified by the Visioning Forums and Town Survey. Issues also reflect observed liabilities and comments made through the planning development process.

Planning for "Agricultural Transition" Lands

"Agricultural Transition" refers to a zoning district in place in the Town. The purpose of this district is to provide the orderly transition of agricultural lands for eventual urban development. The purpose statement of the ordinance indicates that the suitability of any transition should be reviewed every five years and reflected in the Town's land use policies. The current Town policy allows a set percentage to be developed at a time.

Implementing the Concept of "Green Space"

One of the most frequent responses during the Town Vision Forum was to preserve Shelby's "green space". A related response was to include additional open space in new development. Several implementing tools, programs, and ordinances are available. A key part of the process is to determine the extent of preservation areas and the most feasible tools to use.

Better Intergovernmental Relationships and Planning

One of the key issues raised in each of the public meetings is improving cooperation between the communities, especially La Crosse and Shelby.

Environmental and Bluff Land Protection

There are numerous ordinances and programs that seek to protect the environmental resources in the Town. A review of these tools should take place to determine if any program or ordinance needs expansion- based on confirmation of the plan's goals and objectives.


Promote Regional Trail and Park Planning

The public input (gathered to date) indicates a need to better connect the region's trail and park systems. Comments indicate that this needs to support both recreational and transportation needs.


Balancing public interest and private property rights

The need to balance public interest and private property rights is a goal stated by the State. Land use decisions should consider equitable and defensible growth management strategies.


9.0 Implementation Tools

Implementation Tools include the rules, policies, and ordinances used to facilitate or control for a desired outcome. Examples include zoning, subdivision, and official mapping, or the availability of certain incentives. This section includes both regulatory and non-regulatory measures.

9.1 Regulatory Measures

The following regulatory measures can be used to guide development and implement the recommendations of a comprehensive plan. The Town Board officially adopts these regulatory and land use control measures as ordinances (or as revisions to the existing ordinances). For the purposes of this document, "regulatory measures" are those that must be adhered to by everyone if adopted.

9.1.1 Zoning Ordinance

Zoning is used to guide and control the use of land and structures on land. In addition, zoning establishes detailed regulations concerning the areas of lots that may be developed, including setbacks and separation for structures, the density of the development, and the height and bulk of building and other structures. The general purpose for zoning is to avoid undesirable side effects of development by segregating incompatible uses and by maintaining adequate standards for individual uses.

The establishment of zoning districts is generally conducted after careful consideration of the development patterns indicated in the comprehensive plan. Amending zoning district boundaries has the overall effect of changing the plan (unless amendments correspond to changes within the plan), therefore, it is reasonable to assume that indiscriminate changes may result in weakening of the plan. La Crosse County controls the content of the zoning ordinance and the Town of Shelby along with the county determine the local district map. These decisions are preceded by public hearings and plan commission recommendations.

Action: The existing La Crosse County ordinance is sufficient for current usage. However, amendments may become necessary to implement portions of this plan.

9.1.2 Official Maps

An official map shows the location of areas which the municipality has identified as necessary for future public streets, recreation areas, and other public grounds. By showing the area on the Official Map, the municipality puts the property owner on notice that the property has been reserved for future taking for a public facility or purpose. The municipality may refuse to issue a permit for any building or development on the designated parcel; however, the municipality has one year to purchase the property upon notice by the owner of the intended development.

There are no immediate plans for the Town to draft an official map. However, should local officials want to ensure consistency of the Future Land Use Plan with capital improvements, an official map should be drafted. For areas within the extraterritorial area of the City of La Crosse, the official map must be developed jointly.

Action: Adopt an official map at which time changes in the rate of development require increased long-term infrastructure planning. Involve the City of La Crosse for locations within the extraterritorial area

9.1.3 Sign Regulations

Local governments may adopt regulations, such as sign ordinances, to limit the height and other dimensional characteristics of advertising and identification signs. The purpose of these regulations is to promote the well-being of the community by establishing standards that assure the provision of signs adequate to meet essential communication needs while safeguarding the rights of the people in the community to a safe, healthful and attractive environment.

Shelby does not currently have local sign regulations, however within the county zoning ordinance there are provisions to regulate for type, bulk and setback. In the future there may be need to develop local regulations if the county regulations lack the specificity Shelby requires. This is especially true for subdivision signage.

Action: Continue to utilize current standards. Monitor community desire for increased standards as determined through complaint or request basis.

9.1.4 Erosion/Stormwater Control Ordinances

The purpose of stormwater or erosion control ordinances is to set forth stormwater requirements and criteria which will prevent and control water pollution, diminish the threats to public health, safety, welfare, and aquatic life due to runoff of stormwater from development or redevelopment. Adoption of local ordinances for stormwater do not pre-empt more stringent stormwater management requirements that may be imposed by WPDES Stormwater Permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources under Section 147.021 Wis, Stats.

The Town of Shelby has adopted the La Crosse County Erosion Control Ordinance.

Action: Continue to utilize the county ordinance until such time that more stringent requirements are preferred to control for increased stormwater pressures brought about by new development.

9.1.5 Overlay Districts (Viewshed)

An overlay district is an additional zoning requirement that is placed on a geographic area but does not change the underlying zoning. Overlay districts have been used to impose development restrictions or special considerations on new development. For the Town of Shelby, these may include special requirements for commercial buildings along highway corridors or regulations to preserve "viewsheds". No current overlays exist within the town.

Action: Determine demand for additional regulations to control for design within highway commercial areas and viewshed regulations.

9.1.6 Building/Housing Codes

The Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC) is the statewide building code for one- and two-family dwellings built since June 1, 1980. As of January 1, 2005, there is enforcement of the UDC in all Wisconsin municipalities. The UDC is primarily enforced by municipal or county building inspectors who must be state-certified. In lieu of local enforcement, municipalities have the option to have the state provide enforcement through state-certified inspection agencies for just new homes. Permit requirements for alterations and additions will vary by municipality. Regardless of permit requirements, state statutes require compliance with the UDC rules by owners and builders even if there is no enforcement.

Shelby enforces the states Uniform Dwelling Code.

Action: Shelby continues to require builders follow State building codes for all structures built within the jurisdiction.

9.1.7 Mechanical Codes

In the State of Wisconsin, the 2000 International Mechanical Code (IMC) and 2000 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) have been adopted with Wisconsin amendments for application to commercial buildings.

Action: Shelby requires builders follow state building and mechanical codes for all structures built within the jurisdiction.

9.1.8 Sanitary Codes
The Wisconsin Sanitary Code (WSC), which is usually enforced at the county-level, provides local regulation for communities that do not have municipal sanitary service. The WSC establishes rules for the proper siting, design, installation, inspection and management of private sewage systems and non-plumbing sanitation systems.

Action: Work with developers and government agencies to explore alternative sanitary sewer technologies.

A portion of the Town of Shelby is within the City of La Crosse Sanitary District. Requirements for connection to this system are detailed in Chapter VI: Sanitary and Storm Sewers (C. La Crosse Municipal Code).

Action: No town action required within the district.

9.1.9 Land Division Ordinance

Land division regulations serve an important function by ensuring the orderly growth and development of unplatted and undeveloped land. These regulations are intended to protect the community and occupants of the proposed subdivision by setting forth reasonable regulations for public utilities, storm water drainage, lot sizes, street design open space, and other improvements necessary to ensure that new development will be an asset to the Town. The Town Board makes the final decisions on the content of the subdivision ordinance. These decisions are preceded by public hearings and recommendations of the plan commission.

The Town of Shelby has a locally adopted subdivision ordinance. It does not contain regulations for development of a conservation subdivision.

Actions: Review and update existing Town subdivision ordinances to reflect concepts outlined in this plan.

9.1.10 Shoreland Zoning
La Crosse County regulates shorelands within its jurisdiction. The zoning code controls for water pollution, protects spawning grounds for fish and aquatic life, controls building sites including placement of structures and land uses, and preserves natural shore cover. The Town of Shelby has adopted La Crosse County's Shoreland Zoning Ordinance.

Action: Continue to utilize county rules and regulations.

9.2 Non-regulatory Measures

The following non-regulatory measures can be used to guide development and implement the recommendations of a comprehensive plan. These measures often exist as policies or as special incentives available to willing participants. For the purposes of this document, "non-regulatory measures" are meant to encourage a particular practice, but not legislate it.

9.2.1 Capital Improvement Plan

This is an ongoing financial planning program intended to help implement planning proposals. The program allows local communities to plan for capital expenditures and minimize unplanned expenses. Capital improvements or expenditures are those projects that require the expenditure of public funds for the acquisition or construction of a needed physical facility.

Capital improvement programming is a listing of proposed projects according to a schedule of priorities over the next few years. It identifies needed public improvements, estimates their costs, discusses means of financing them, and establishes priorities for them over a three-to-five year programming period. Improvements or acquisitions considered a capital improvement include:

· Public buildings (i.e. – fire and police stations)

· Park acquisition and development

· Roads and highways

· Utility construction and wastewater treatment plants

· Joint school and other community development projects

· Fire and police protection equipment

A capital improvement plan or program is a method of financial planning for these types of improvements and scheduling the expenditures over a period of several years in order to maximize the use of public funds. Each year the capital improvement program should be extended one year to compensate for the previous year that was completed. This keeps the improvement program current and can be modified to the community's changing needs.

Preparation of a Capital Improvement Program

The preparation of a Capital Improvement Program is normally the joint responsibility between the community administrator or plan commission, various staff, governing body, and citizen commissions. The preparation of a capital improvement program may vary from community to community depending on local preferences, the local form of government and available staff. In communities that have a community development plan or comprehensive plan, a planning agency review of the proposed capital improvement program is desirable.

Shelby does prepare a CIP that is primarily used to schedule street repair.

Action: Continue to utilize an annual system of funding allocation, such as capital improvement plan (CIP), to ensure adequate funding and programming for needed upgrades and repair.

9.2.2 Cooperative Boundary Agreements

These agreements attempt to facilitate problem solving through citizen involvement, negotiation, mediation, and other cooperative methods. Generally, boundary agreements help both an incorporated community and an unincorporated community forecast future lands for annexation so that infrastructure needs can be forecast and funded. They can also ease contentious relationships.

A boundary agreement between the Town of Shelby and City of La Crosse has not yet been created.

Action: Contact the City of La Crosse about establishing a Joint Committee to negotiate the boundary agreement process.

9.2.3 Impact Fees

Impact fees are exactions levied to a developer or homeowner by a municipality to offset the community's costs resulting from a development. To set an impact fee rate an analysis called a Public Facilities Needs Assessment must be performed to quantify the fee. Although counties cannot charge impact fees, many municipalities in La Crosse County would benefit from the revenue created by these fees in implementation of their local plans (eg. paying for development of parks in new residential developments).

The Town of Shelby does not currently collect impact fees for new development.

Action: Determine the need for impact fee exactions over time and develop a Public Facilities Needs Assessment prior to development of the impact fee ordinance.


9.2.4 Site Plan Regulations

A site plan is a detailed plan of a lot indicating all proposed improvements. Some communities have regulations indicating that site plans may need to be prepared by an engineer, surveyor, or architect. Additionally, site plan regulations may require specific inclusions like: General Layout, Drainage and Grading, Utilities, Erosion Control, Landscaping & Lighting, and Building Elevations.

The Town of Shelby does not have sufficient site plan review processes in place. New standards should minimally include standards for applicant submission and review by the Plan Commission.

Action: Create a site plan review procedure that is utilized by the Plan Commission for review of all development applications.

9.3 Consistency Among Plan Elements / 20-Year Vision

The State of Wisconsin planning legislation requires that the implementation element describe how each of the nine-elements will be integrated and made consistent with the other elements of the plan. Since the Town of Shelby completed all planning elements simultaneously, no known inconsistencies exist.

This Comprehensive Plan references previous planning efforts, and details future planning needs. To keep consistency with the Comprehensive Plan the Town should incorporate existing plans as components to the Comprehensive Plan, and adopt all future plans as detailed elements of this Plan.

The Town of Shelby will continue to make educated decisions based upon available information and public opinion. Planning will revolve around the 20-Year Planning Vision (below) and decisions will incorporate a comprehensive look at all elements to determine appropriate cohesiveness of the decision against stated visions.

20-year Vision

The Town of Shelby will continue to be a community of distinct urban, suburban, and rural areas. Shelby's quality of life is defined by its agricultural resources, natural resources, access to urban amenities, varied neighborhoods, and by its people.

9.4 Plan Adoption, Monitoring, Amendments and Update

9.4.1 Plan Adoption

In order to implement this plan it must be adopted by the Town Planning Commission. After the Commission adopts the Plan by resolution, the Town Board must adopt the plan by ordinance. This action formalizes the plan document as a frame of reference for general development decisions over the next 20 years. Once formally adopted, the Plan becomes a tool for communicating the community's land use policy and for coordinating legislative decisions.

9.4.2 Plan Use and Evaluation

The Town of Shelby will base all of its land use decisions against this Plan's goals, objectives, policies, and recommendations including decisions on private development proposals, public investments, regulations, incentives, and other actions.

The Town of Shelby can expect gradual change in the years to come. Although this Plan has described policies and actions for future implementation, it is impossible to predict the exact future condition of the Town. As such, the goals, objectives, and actions should be monitored on a regular basis to maintain concurrence with changing conditions.

The Plan should be evaluated at least every 5 years, and updated at least every 10 years. Members of the Town Board, Plan Commission, and any other decision-making body should periodically review the plan and identify areas that might need to be updated. The evaluation should consist of reviewing actions taken to the implement the plan visions, goals and objectives. The evaluation should also include an update of the 5-Year Action Plan located within this chapter.

9.4.3 Plan Amendments

The Town of Shelby Comprehensive Plan 2025 may be amended at any time by the Town Board following the same process to amend the plan as it originally followed when it was initially adopted (regardless of how minor the amendment or change is).


Amendments may be appropriate throughout the lifecycle of the Plan, particularly if new issues emerge or trends change. These amendments will typically be minor changes to the plan's maps or text. Large-scale changes or frequent amendments to meet individual development proposals should be avoided or the plan loses integrity. Any proposed amendments should be submitted to the Planning Commission for their review and recommendations prior consideration by the Town Board for final action.


9.4.4 Plan Update

According to the State comprehensive planning law the Comprehensive Plan must be updated at least once every ten years. As opposed to an amendment, the plan update is a major re-write of the plan document and supporting maps.

9.5 5-Year Action Plan

This 5-Year Action Plan provides a summary list and work schedule of short-term actions that the Town should complete as part of the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. It should be noted that many of the actions require considerable cooperation with others, including the citizens of Shelby, Town Committees, Town staff, and local/state governments. The completion of recommended actions in the timeframe presented may be affected and or impacted due to competing interests, other priorities, and financial limitations facing the Town. This table should be update every five years.

What Who When

Develop Town site plan development guidelines

Planning Commission


Continue to investigate alternative sanitary sewer technologies

Planning Commission


Initiate discussion of a bike/pedestrian trail system

Planning Commission


Consider "view shed" regulations

Planning Commission


Discuss intergovernmental boundary agreement with the

City of La Crosse

Town Board


Review and update existing Town subdivision ordinances to reflect concepts outlined in this plan.

Plan Commission/

Town Board



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