Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

County wouldn’t control new village’s zoning

by Chris Schultz

October 20, 2011

BLOOMFIELD — Nothing like incorporation to eliminate a layer of government.

That layer would be the county, which would no longer be involved in Bloomfield’s zoning, said Doug Mushel, chairman of the Bloomfield incorporation committee.

The committee and incorporation supporters want to turn about 12 square miles of the town of Bloomfield, centered on Pell Lake, from a town to a village. The state Department of Administration has approved the incorporation plan.

It will be up to voters living in the 12-square-mile area to decide whether they want to be part of a village at a special Nov. 8 election.

The projected population of the proposed village in 2010 was 5,093, about 2,000 within the proposed village are registered voters, Mushel said.

The town’s remaining population would be 1,248.

Mushel and Becky Gallagher, also a member of the committee, presented a public informational meeting that drew about 70 residents to the Bloomfield Town Hall on Oct. 12.

The new village of Bloomfield, if voters approve it, will be directly between the city of Lake Geneva to the north and the village of Genoa City to the south.

The meeting Oct. 12 was the third information meeting scheduled by the Incorporation Committee.

Mushel also said he is willing to schedule more meetings if residents want them. An engineer at Kapur & Associates, Burlington, Mushel said he can be reached by calling (262) 758-6005.

About 40 people turned out for the meeting in the pro shop of the Nippersink Golf Course on Oct. 4 and another 50 showed up for the meeting at the Bloomfield Town Hall on Oct. 5.

Mushel said incorporation would prevent annexation of land in the village and slow annexation of town land by either Lake Geneva or Genoa City.

According to Mushel, one of the goals for incorporation is to return control of local zoning to the local government.

Other reasons are:

- To maintain and preserve Bloomfield’s civil social and economic character.

- Gain greater control over zoning and development.

- Prevent annexation and loss of territory.

- To receive certain aid and shared revenues available to incorporated jurisdictions.

- Maintain a stable tax base and tax rate.

What incorporation wouldn’t do is change local zoning, or any mailing addresses witnin the village.

It wouldn’t even change where the local government meets, Mushel said. He said a site survey showed that the Bloomfield Town Hall could serve as both the village and town halls, with plenty of room for the offices of both municipalities.

It wouldn’t cause an expansion of the Pell Lake Sanitary District, which provides sewer and water to Pell Lake.

But incorporation wouldn’t set the village’s boundaries in stone, either, Mushel said.

Right now, the town of Bloomfield has a tax base of $551 million. Should the new village incorporate, it will have $431.7 million of that valuation, leaving the remaining town with $120 million.

State law would allow the new village, through directed annexation, to then annex surrounding sections of the town of Bloomfield, to bring it within the village limits.

Mushel said directed annexation would allow the new village to negotiate annexation agreements with key property owners representing 20 percent of the town’s population and owning more than 50 percent of the assessed valuation of the annexable area.

One of the concerns most residents voiced was whether their tax rates will go up.

That would go up slightly, Mushel said. The proposed tax rate for the village is $2.88 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for 2012, Mushel said. The town of Bloomfield’s rate for this year is $2.75.

This is at least the fourth incorporation petition from the town of Bloomfield.

Bloomfield’s current proposal is a resubmittal of a 2008 petition, which the state Incorporation Review Board dismissed in June 2010, but recommended that it be refiled with altered boundaries.

Both Lake Geneva and Genoa City intervened in the Bloomfield incorporation process trying to shrink the unborn village’s boundaries and limit its ability to annex surrounding town property. Those efforts were unsuccessful.

On Feb. 10, the petition was resubmitted to the Walworth County Court. The court decided the petition met population and area standards set by state law and sent it to the Incorporation Review Board on Feb. 21.

The second effort proved more successful, and led up to the referendum.

Doug Mushel said that Bloomfield, if it incorporates, would resemble the village of Bristol in neighboring Kenosha County.

In November 2009, residents of the town of Bristol, living in a nine-square-mile of the northwest corner of the town voted to incorporate as a village.

The village received its certificate of incorporation from the Wisconsin Secretary of State in January 2010.

About six months later, the village of Bristol voted to annex the remaining town of Bristol, which took effect July 2010.

A small section of the former town of Bristol annexed to the village Pleasant Prairie.

The village of Bristol is about 9 square miles with a population estimated at 2,510 in 2009.