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Sewers could stop townships from losing their land

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Kayla Bunge
February 24, 2008

Installing sewers in a 700-acre area of Geneva and Linn townships could prevent township land from being gobbled up by nearby cities and villages.


“The integrity of the town gets somewhat compromised as little by little it gets absorbed by adjoining communities,” said Ted Peters, president of the Linn sanitary district.


Developers want their land annexed to get municipal services, according to the 2004 book “Managing Community Growth” by Eric Damian Kelly.


And why do municipalities agree to annexation? To ensure land is available for future growth, the book says.


Meanwhile, townships struggle to maintain their rural identities.


“It’s the growth issue,” said Dan Lauderdale, town of Geneva chairman. “None of us want growth. We want to preserve our green space.”


That’s one reason why Geneva and Linn townships are proposing sewer service for the area between the south shore of Lake Como and the north shore of Geneva Lake.


But it wasn’t their worry about losing land to annexation that prompted the discussion about installing sewers.


Geneva and Linn townships assessed wastewater treatment a couple years ago and found a number of homes with failing septic systems.


Town officials looked at alternatives, including repairing existing septic systems, installing holding tanks or installing sewers.


Sewers seemed to be the most viable alternative because the lots aren’t suitable for holding tanks and because septic systems could continue to pollute the lakes.


Much of the area is in the Walworth County Metropolitan Sewerage District service area. Sewer lines would run along Highway 50 to the lift station at the gates of Geneva National, from which wastewater would be pumped to the wastewater treatment plant in Delavan.


A 2006 wastewater facilities study presented at a public meeting in December proposed sewers for 2,625 acres. But based on residents’ feedback, town officials cut the area by half.


Officials eliminated the eastern portion of the study area, saying sewers are not as badly needed there.


Lauderdale said most of the green space is the Geneva Township side, and residents were concerned installing sewers would spur growth.


“They didn’t want developers to over-develop that,” he said. “(By not installing sewers), we can better deter potential development in that area.”


Lauderdale said that area is “vulnerable” because Lake Geneva has it slated for future growth.


While losing land to development and annexation is troubling for both townships, the feelings are stronger in Geneva Township.


“In our case, it’s not as serious of an issue with our neighbors,” Peters said. “We’re not under the pressure that Geneva Township is.”


Linn Township’s neighbor is Williams Bay, which has a moratorium on annexation. But Geneva Township is bordered by Elkhorn, Lake Geneva and Williams Bay.


WHAT’S NEXT

A second public meeting on the sewer proposal will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at Woods School, N2575 Snake Road, Lake Geneva. Town officials will be seeking feedback from residents on the revised proposal.



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