Bloomfield to control land use
Residents on Monday voted to give town officials the authority to enact a town zoning ordinance. The vote was 42-5.
Town Chairman Ken Monroe said town officials are experienced, but he expects there will be a learning curve.
"We understand there's going to be some bumps in the road and the planning commissioners are going to have to do some schooling," he said.
A planner soon will begin drafting a town zoning ordinance and should have a working ordinance complete by the end of January, Monroe said.
Town officials asked residents to support the measures as the town seeks to opt out of county zoning. The town will be able to opt out as soon as it has the mechanism in place to control its own zoning, Monroe said.
Land use matters in Walworth County townships are controlled not by town officials but by county officials. The town plan commission makes a recommendation to the town board, and the town board makes a recommendation to the county. The county ultimately decides what happens on town land. But the town of Bloomfield wants to make zoning decisions.
"We can no longer say ‘we didn't do it; the county did it,' Monroe said. "Now the whole ball of wax falls on our shoulders."
The town board on Thursday adopted a temporary moratorium on zoning applications to give officials time to draw up a town zoning ordinance, Monroe said.
The board also sought authority to enact a town zoning ordinance so the town can have something in place when it opts out of county zoning and so it can have something in place if the town someday becomes a village, he said.
A group of town residents seeks incorporation of an 18.5-square-mile portion of the township northeast of County H, including the Pell Lake area.
County officials are not fearful the town of Bloomfield's move will prompt other towns to opt out of county zoning, Michael Cotter, director of the Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department, told the Gazette last week.
Several years ago, the county board directed staff to conduct a comprehensive review of the county zoning code to allow towns to either adopt the county ordinance or adopt a town ordinance, Cotter said.
This is the first opportunity towns have had to opt out since county zoning went into effect in 1974, Cotter said. The town of Bloomfield would be the first, he said.
Although opting out of county zoning would give town officials control over most land-use matters, the county still would control some matters, such as shoreland zoning, Cotter said.