Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

State approves incorporation proposal
Residents could be asked to approve proposed village in referendum

by Steve Targo

August 18, 2011

BLOOMFIELD — The state has had its say. Now, it appears soon the residents of the proposed village of Bloomfield will have theirs.

The state Department of Administration officially decided the town of Bloomfield’s request to turn about 12 square miles northeast of Highway H into a village meets state requirements.

The next step may fall into place as soon as later this week.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Bloomfield Town Chairman Ken Monroe said Walworth County Circuit Court Judge John Race is expected to look at the recent decision in favor of the proposed village by the DOA’s Incorporation Review Board.

But the final say doesn’t rest in the hands of state or county officials.

“I believe Judge Race has to set a date for a referendum,” Monroe said.

However, for now, it appears supporters of this plan made it out of bureaucratic purgatory.

“It’s been three to five years,” Monroe said Tuesday during a telephone interview about how long people like himself and other members of the town’s Incorporation Committee have been working on this request. “At least three.”

In 2008, the town filed a petition to incorporate areas including Pell Lake and surrounding lands.

The Review Board dismissed the petition June 14, 2010, because of the size of that proposal.

However, the board recommended the petitioners refile and ask to incorporate a smaller portion of the town as a village.

That’s what they did Dec. 20, 2010, reducing the original area by about 6 square miles.

In an Aug. 12 letter to Race from Review Board Chairwoman Dawn Vick, she stated Bloomfield’s revised petition meets statutory standards and “recommends that a referendum vote of the area residents be held.”

In Vick’s executive summary of the affair, she notes not everyone favors Bloomfield’s incorporation attempt.

The city of Lake Geneva and the village of Genoa City intervened against the town’s petition in 2008.

The city and village attempted again last year but Race denied them, “deciding that they did not have an interest,” Vick stated.

She stated the petitioners “wish to incorporate in order to preserve and maintain Bloomfield’s civic, social and economic character, gain greater local control over zoning and development, prevent annexation and loss of territory, utilize (Tax Incremental Financing districts) and receive certain state aids and shared revenues available to incorporated jurisdictions.”

There were six areas of criteria for the board’s decision — compactness and homogeneity, territory beyond the core of the proposed village, tax revenue, level of services, impact on the remaining town and impact on the metropolitan community.

As for compactness and homogeneity, the Review Board determined the 2008 petition “contained too much territory” and neighborhoods which weren’t connected to the community center of the proposed village — Pell Lake.

“Excluding 6 square miles of rural lands and the Lake Ivanhoe and Pioneer Park neighborhoods resolves these problems,” Vick stated. “Drawing the boundaries more tightly around the community center of Pell Lake results in a compact and urban territory.”

The Bloomfield Wildlife Area, near Hafs and Bloomfield roads, consists of wetlands and is included in the current petition map. However, Vick stated the area is connected “both environmentally and socially” to Pell Lake.

Then there’s the matter of Nippersink and Powers Lake.

“The continued division of the Nippersink/Powers Lake neighborhood, along the western boundary of this incorporation, is unfortunate, however, Nippersink/Powers Lake is already divided between two counties and three towns,” Vick stated. “Therefore, incorporation will not worsen the situation, but in fact may help by providing community services such as lake patrol, dam repair and lake management.”

With level of services, the Review Board took geography and finances into consideration.

“The board found that the previous petition would have cut the remaining town into four pieces, with numerous town islands and peninsulas, making community identity and service provision more difficult,” Vick stated. “Also, the previous petition allocated only $46 million in equalized value, a population of roughly 500, a proposed budget that was unreasonably low and increased the remaining residents’ tax rate.”

However, the new petition addressed these concerns.

“By excluding approximately 6 square miles of rural lands and the Pioneer Park and Lake Ivanhoe neighborhoods, this resubmitted petition more than doubles the remnant town’s equalized value, increases its population by 800 people and proposes a $526,000 budget with a projected decreased tax rate for remnant residents.”