The Senate voted 19-13 to approve Assembly Bill 563, which would allow Dane County towns to opt out of shared zoning authority with the county.

Under current Wisconsin law, cities and villages control decisions on rezoning farmland for residential or commercial construction, but most towns share the authority with counties. The Dane County Towns Association has pushed for legislation as a way for towns to gain more autonomy over developments in rural areas, and to grow tax bases to pay for services.

But critics, including officials from Dane County, its cities and villages and a group of its towns, have argued that towns lack the financial and staff resources to administer their own zoning code, and that it could unleash irresponsible development in rural parts of the county. They have also blasted the proposal for carving out rules that apply only to Dane County.

Assembly Republicans passed the bill's companion in a vote along party lines last week. The bill now heads to Gov. Scott Walker for final approval.

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Matthew DeFour covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.