Village Issues

Here are my thoughts on various issues facing the village of Howard.

My home in Howard, Wisconsin.


The village recently increased its tax levy by over 10%. Many residents were surprised by this, especially after receiving a letter from the village in August that downplayed the amount of the increase. We are going through a period of high inflation, so we should not be too critical of the village needing a tax increase to maintain current sevice levels. Howard citizens should, however, demand better communication from village leadership on such an important issue.

We need to ensure the village runs efficiently and provides a good value to tax payers. With an expanding population, the village will face increasing costs for services such as infrastructure, public safety, trash collection, etc. When it is appropriate to expand those services, it will be important to share better data with the public showing the demand for the services in addition to the increasing costs. We need to make wise choices on budget priorities within the village.


I see a few challenges with housing in Howard. We need more affordable units, and I would like to see some of the new development address this need so we aren’t always pushing lower income residents to older housing units with more maintenance issues. New housing need not be expensive. Site selection for new development is also very important. Howard has taken missteps recently regarding development in environmentally sensitive areas, and I would instead like to see the village start going “above and beyond” regarding environmental stewardship. The last housing issue I’ll address is that we have many residents that are upset Howard is losing its rural character as development expands to the west side of the village, and they would like to see fewer housing units built in this area. The truth is that because of economic realities, Howard will continue to become more suburban and less agricultural over time no matter what the village does. We can, however, take some steps to preserve some of that rural character in the western parts of our village by investing in green spaces…

Green Spaces

There are a few small pockets of forest land remaining in Howard and we should work hard to preserve them. They provide wildlife habitat, the trees clean the air, and they provide a nice diversity to the landscape. The village should look to purchase these parcels when they become available and use them for parks, adding hiking trails and picnic areas for public use.

Trails, Pedestrians, and Public Transportation

We need to keep investing in ways to connect neighborhoods to services in ways that don’t require our automobiles. The village recently expanded the trail network between Meadowbrook and the new Village Center, and we need more projects like that. We should also encourage more pedestrian friendly infrastructure throughout the village. A classic pedestrian nightmare is Cardinal Lane and Riverview Drive, where it would be nice to have a better connection between the senior housing and the pharmacy. This is also an area of the village that should be connected to Green Bay Metro, to add public transportation options for our residents.

Environmental Stewardship

We currently face urgent issues regarding environmental stewardship. We have a responsibility to save the world (literally) for future generations, and we aren’t doing nearly enough. This starts with our own personal choices as we go through our daily lives, but there are a lot of things our village can do. For instance…

Rooftop Solar

Small scale rooftop solar projects are a great way to generate clean electricity and reduce strain on the electrical grid. Homeowners can recieve federal tax credits for solar projects, and I want the village to faciliate the projects by grouping homeowners together and negotiating contracts with local installers and financing partners. This can be done in a way that significantly lowers the overall cost of the projects, allows for homeowners to avoid out-of-pocket costs, and can save homeowners thousands of dollars over the life span of the solar panels. It will also stimulate our local economy and increase property values in the village.

I would also like to see rooftop solar on village owned facilities, partnerships with local businesses, and aggressive pursuit of grant funding.

While solar projects can help us solve the climate crisis and our growing energy needs, it is important to realize they are also money makers. The life span of a solar panel is 25 years, and they pay for themselves in 8 or 9 years. I installed a rooftop solar project on my home in 2019, and I’m projecting I will make over $12,000 from it – and that assumes electricity prices stay the same for 25 years (unlikely!). While we may disagree on climate science and energy policy, we should all agree it is a good idea to take advantage of an economic opportunity.

War on Plastic

We need to declare war on plastic shopping bags, styrofoam containers, single use plastics such as straws and beverage toppers, and many other items. Most of the time they are entirely unncessary as green alternatives are available. The village should encourage the local business community to remove these items. I envision a “Keep Howard Green” program that allows Howard businesses to display a stamp of approval from the village for following a set of sustainable business practices, with the village encouraging residents to patronize those businesses that sign up to be part of the program. Unfortunately, Wisconsin state law does not allow Howard to pass an ordinance to ban these items, which would be a preferred solution.

Storm Water

Our storm water drains into Lake Michigan, and we can take meaningful steps to reduce runoff. We can use permeable pavement when building sidewalks and driveways. We need to make sure we are using green lawn care products, and we can keep our grass clippings off the roads and sidewalks. There are lots of ways the village could make progress in these areas. One approach is to promote voluntary compliance through awareness campaigns and partnering with local retailers to promote best practices and green products. Another approach is to create new local ordinances on these topics.

Light Pollution

On a clear night I can still see a few stars from my Howard back yard, but I fear that will not be the case in the coming years. I feel the night sky is important as it helps us relax, provides inspiration, and helps us teach our children about our place in the universe. Light pollution is a problem in the village because of poor design choices on recent projects such as the Howard Commons. There are best practices to implement such as pointing light down and not up or sideways, using less blue light to reduce glare, and implementing timers and motion sensors to make sure light is only used when needed.

New Development

The new Marley Street exit near Maplewood should drive new development on the west side of the village. Wouldn’t it be nice to see some new restaurants or a small grocery store out there? We should have planned zoning in this area that efficiently utilizes the available land and respects the remaining forested areas on the west side of the village.

Special Assessments

I would like to see the village reduce the practice of charging property owners special assessments for infrastructure improvements, especially when they oppose the projects. An example is the recently completed Pinecrest/Evergreen project. The village added storm sewers to those roads and put in sidewalks, significantly impacting front yards, driveways, old growth pine trees and landscaping. Some residents were upset and voiced concerns to the Village Board, but the project continued, and to add insult to injury the impacted property owners had their taxes increased to help pay for the “improvements” to their properties. I live a couple blocks away and while my property was not impacted, I sympathize with my neighbors. I’m not opposed to adding sewers and sidewalks where needed, but the special assessments seemed unjust in this case and it would have been better for the village to pay for the entire cost of the project, and to also consider design alternatives to lessen the negative impacts. Special assessments should be reserved for instances such as developers putting in a whole new subdivision, and not for projects in established neighborhoods.