Town of Bloomfield takes step toward adopting its own zoning

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Kayla Bunge
Friday, October 30, 2009
— Town residents will have to wait a few months before applying for rezones, conditional-use permits and variances as town officials prepare to take over land use matters in the township.

The Bloomfield Town Board on Thursday unanimously voted to adopt a 90-day moratorium on zoning applications pending a vote by residents at a special board meeting Monday.

"As I've said for years, this is nothing against (Walworth) county," Town Chairman Ken Monroe told the Gazette after the meeting. "They have good people, but it's rough when you only have 11 people on the board. There's a lot for them to do."

Town officials have asked residents to support two measures as the town seeks to opt out of county zoning:

-- Adopting a 90-day moratorium on rezone, conditional-use and variance applications.

-- Enacting a town zoning ordinance.

The town planning and zoning commission recommended the moratorium prior to Thursday night's board meeting. The creation of a zoning ordinance will come up on future agendas, Monroe said.

A few residents turned up to ask questions about the changes, Monroe said. The board will hold a special meeting Monday after its regular 7 p.m. meeting. During the special meeting, residents will be able to vote on the moratorium.

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.

Bloomfield Township wants to make its own zoning decisions.

The town board adopted a temporary moratorium on zoning applications to give officials time to draw up a town zoning ordinance, Monroe said. It also is seeking 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 are seeking incorporation of an 18.5-square-mile portion of the township northeast of County H and including the Pell Lake area.

County officials are not fearful Bloomfield Township will start a domino effect of townships opting out of county zoning, said Michael Cotter, director of the Walworth County Land Use and Resource Management Department.

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.

"It isn't a surprise that they're doing this," he said.

This is the first opportunity towns have had to opt out since county zoning went into effect in 1974, Cotter said. Bloomfield Township would be the first, he said.

Although opting out of county zoning would give town officials control over the majority of land use matters in the township, the county still would control some matters, such as shoreland zoning, Cotter said.

Last updated: 11:37 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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