Janesville33.8°

Bloomfield annexation headed to trial

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Stan Milam
October 5, 2012

— With no agreement in sight, a February trial is likely concerning whether a referendum will proceed to allow residents in the own of Bloomfield to decide whether to join the village of Bloomfield.

A joint meeting Thursday of the town and village boards reviewed the lack of progress at a mediation session a week ago. The other major players in the issue are the city of Lake Geneva and the village of Genoa City. Both municipalities oppose the annexation.

"During the mediation, we offered to allow them to keep their islands of land within the town border," said Brian Schuk, a Delavan lawyer representing both the town and village of Bloomfield. "We then offered to give both Lake Geneva and Genoa City 10 years to de-annex land they are interested in."

The Bloomfield offer required Bloomfield to annex contested town land, but give Lake Geneva and Genoa City 10 years to take back the property.

"We would not object if the two could convince property owners to join Lake Geneva or Genoa City," Schuk said.

Lake Geneva came back with a counter offer of 50 years, said town board member Tom Sullivan.

"State law limits those agreements to 10 years," Sullivan said. "We can't agree to 50. Lake Geneva simply will not listen to us. There's no way to compromise with them."

Attorney Schuk confirmed Sullivan's interpretation of the law governing boundary agreements.

"The law is clear to me," he said. "It says in 66.0301 (6) (b) that the agreements are limited to 10 years."

Schuk said Genoa City representatives apparently could not agree on a boundary agreement time frame and did not come back with a counter offer.

Bloomfield board member Doug Mushel said the issue since village incorporation and now into the annexation phase is allowing residents to choose where they want to be.

"I think it's reasonable to allow Lake Geneva and Genoa City to take 10 years to determine where town residents near them want to be," he said. "If they want to be in Lake Geneva or Genoa City, so be it. All we are asking is that town residents ought to be able to decide where they want to be."

Only two area residents attended Thursday's meeting.

"I want to thank you for your efforts," Jan Hammarstrom of town of Bloomfield told members of the two boards. "You are helping us back to a whole unit."

Attorney Schuk said after the meeting he expects Lake Geneva to file a motion to dismiss the suit over whether to proceed with a binding referendum.

"They have said as much, so I expect it, and it could come in the next month or so," he said. "Barring the judge granting that motion, I would expect the matter to go to trial in February."

Bloomfield Board President Ken Monroe said he continues to hold out hope an agreement can be reached before trial.

"I continue to wonder if the residents of Lake Geneva and Genoa City realize how much this is going to cost if it goes to trial," he said. "If Lake Geneva and Genoa City want to sit down at the table and talk, we're ready, any time."



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