Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Work begins on larger village
If successful, Bloomfield would annex remaining town land

by Steve Targo

January 05, 2012

Last year, history was made and the village of Bloomfield was born. But before the new year could begin, the likely top story of 2012 emerged.

During a Dec. 21 telephone interview, Ken Monroe — town chairman and acting village president — discussed the effort of the village to annex the remaining town.

If successful, this means the new village of Bloomfield wouldn't be just a 12-square-mile region northeast of Highway. Its territory would span the boundaries of the town.

Two communities would essentially become one, which Monroe said was the intention all along. However, officials from the state, the city of Lake Geneva and the village of Genoa City opposed that idea.

"The Lake Geneva City Council members wanted a buffer between the village of Bloomfield and the city of Lake Geneva," Monroe said. "Genoa City officials did, too, between (their community) and the village (of Bloomfield). This delayed the process two years. When we talked to the state's Incorporation Review Board, they didn't want the whole township to incorporate, but practically everyone in the township at one point signed the incorporation petition."

Although years before the incorporation process, when town officials openly griped about the state law allowing cities and villages to annex land from towns, it may work to Bloomfield's advantage.

This law allows cities and villages to annex land from a nearby town at a property owner's request. With the village of Bloomfield surrounded by the remaining town, it can annex that land via a special referendum.

The first step occurred Dec. 20. The Bloomfield Village Board, which is comprised of the same members as the Bloomfield Town Board, adopted on a 5-0 vote a resolution declaring the village's intent to apply to the Walworth County Circuit Court for an annexation referendum order.

On Dec. 21, Monroe said the resolution must be posted. A Class 1 notice ran in the Dec. 29 Regional News.

Monroe said copies of the resolution and a scale map of the property to be annexed needs to be filed with the Bloomfield town clerk.

"The annexation will be considered announced upon publication of the resolution," Monroe said.

"Then, the request has to go to Circuit Court."

An annexation petition has to be filed between 30 and 45 days after the notice is published, Monroe said. The petition has to be signed by the governing officials. In this case, the officials for the town and village of Bloomfield are the same people — Monroe and Supervisor William Holder, who live in the new village, and Supervisors Tom Sullivan, Sue Leedle and Dan Schoonover, who live in the remaining town.

"Then it goes to court," Monroe said. "The court has to look at it and if the court is satisfied it has to hold a hearing."

It is presumed this is when people will have the chance to speak for or against the proposed annexation. Monroe said at the hearing, he expects a judge will determine whether to issue an annexation referendum order.

Then, it's up to the people who live in the remaining town. Those are the only ones who would be able to vote in the annexation referendum election, Monroe said. An estimated 1,400 are eligible voters, he said.

"We can do the resolution, we can do all the work, but really, it all comes down to the voters," Monroe said.

However, he said people have been asking if they could annex into the village shortly after the Nov. 8 referendum in which a large majority of voters approved the incorporation.

"There has been a lot of interest on it," Monroe said about annexing the remaining town. "At that first (incorporation) hearing, so many people from the outlying town asked the Incorporation Review Board why they couldn't just keep the community intact. That was the biggest thing."

Shared services

Regardless of the outcome of this annexation effort, the town and village of Bloomfield are required to designate the assets of each community and work out agreements for services.

On Dec. 20, town and village officials established temporary agreements.

According to Monroe, the boards approved one-year contracts for the building inspector and zoning administrator. The Bloomfield Town Police Department is responding to calls in both communities. Municipal court and the Highway Department are, too.

"We're still working out who owns how much of what, but the town and village will be covered," Monroe said. "All streets and roads will be plowed regardless if it's in the village or town and the police and fire department will be running like they always did."

He said details still need to be worked out in some areas, such as with the Bloomfield-Genoa City Fire Department, but they are waiting for real estate evaluation figures to determine assets.