State says 'no'
DOA denies proposed village, but Pell Lake meets incorporation requirements
June 16, 2010 | 09:07 AM
|SCRAMBLING TO MAKE A DECISION -
With the 18-square-mile village of Bloomfield proposal dead, the state Department of Administration issued some hope for a new village proposal concerning the Pell Lake area.
But on Monday, Bloomfield Town Chairman Ken Monroe said it will be up to the town's Ad Hoc Incorporation Committee to recommend a course of action to the Town Board.
"The next step will be to have a committee meeting," Monroe said.
However, the committee needs at least one more member before that meeting takes place.
According to Monroe, only Doug Mushel and Becky Gallagher have remained on the committee since officials created the 18-square-mile village proposal. Others left the committee because where they live no longer was part of the proposed village.
The focus of the meeting may be to decide whether the town pursues incorporating the Pell Lake area as a village. This wouldn't be the first time someone tried to turn Pell Lake into a village, but in 1999, that effort failed during a referendum election.
Monroe said once the committee finds a third member, he wants the committee to meet. He said the board may act on that recommendation at its next regular meeting Monday, July 12.|
Bloomfield — Ken Monroe said in a way he was surprised with what he read Saturday in a letter from the state Department of Administration.
The town chairman had been optimistic about his community's chances to turn an 18-square-mile region northwest of Higway H into what could have been Walworth County's largest village.
But on Monday, Monroe said the state Department of Administration determined the proposed village of Bloomfield doesn't meet all the incorporation requirements.
"The big reason for the determination was, I think, that we were just asking for too much land," he said.
In a June 11 letter to Walworth County Circuit Court Judge John Race, DOA Incorporation Review Board Chairman Brian Vigue stated a portion of the proposed village area — including Pell Lake — "would meet all the standards."
To those who can remember what happened more than 10 years ago, this could be construed as an ironic twist of fate.
In 1999, a group of town residents attempted to incorporate Pell Lake.
At that time, the DOA determined the Pell Lake proposal met the incorporation requirements, the majority of residents voted against a referendum to allow the proposed village.
Monroe, then a Town Board supervisor, was one of the officials against the Pell Lake incorporation attempt.
In explaining why he opposed the 1999 Pell Lake effort — and why he supported the recently rejected Bloomfield village proposal — he suggested his all-or-nothing attitude about the effort to preserve the town's borders.
"We wanted the whole township, or at least as much of it as we can get (as a village)," Monroe said.
He said with this latest attempt, it was the same mindset.
"You've got to go for it all," Monroe said. "That's what the petitions were for. The town people, when they petitioned, they wanted to go for the whole town, not just Pell Lake."
State law allows cities and villages to annex land from nearby towns at a property owner's request.
Monroe and other town officials have expressed concerns over two nearby communities — the city of Lake Geneva and the village of Genoa City — annexing town of Bloomfield land, thereby reducing the town's borders, territory and tax base.
The town filed its incorporation, and Lake Geneva and Genoa City filed motions to intervene.
This made the first half of last year a busy — and some would say frustrating — one, with negotiation attempts at boundaries for the proposed village of Bloomfield.
On Monday, Monroe said although he thought proponents of the Bloomfield village proposal did what the state had asked, in the back of his mind was a suspicion that there would be one reason the DOA wouldn't accept the request.
"Lake Geneva was one of the biggest reasons we didn't make it," he said. "Their biggest thing was (the city) wanted a bigger buffer."
The proposed village of Bloomfield would have abutted directly against the city of Lake Geneva's southern boundary line. Some city officials said this prohibits Lake Geneva's southern growth. One city or village cannot annex land from another.
But Monroe saw it differently.
"The buffer zones, to me, are ridiculous," he said. "Once (a city or village) annexes that buffer area, are you supposed to put another one in there?"
Although Bloomfield and Genoa City officials agreed on a buffer zone — but not a clause prohibiting residents in the zone from asking to be annexed in the proposed Bloomfield village — negotiations didn't go too far with Lake Geneva officials.
"We couldn't come up with an agreement," Monroe said.
But now, he said he wants to take another stab at an agreement with the city despite his track record. Monroe said he wants to speak soon with the city's new mayor, Jim Connors.
"I've never had any success with the last three city mayors," Monroe said with a laugh.
Also, Vigue stated the town could revise its incorporation request.
According to Vigue, the Incorporation Review Board will consider waiving the $20,000 incorporation fee if it revises the map following the board recommendations for Pell Lake and circulates a new petition within the next 114 days.
Monroe said that will be up to the town's Ad Hoc Incorporation Committee.