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Town of Springfield approves village powers

By LeAnn R. Ralph

TOWN OF SPRINGFIELD — Electors in the Town of Springfield have approved village powers for the town board.

Village powers were granted during the Town of Springfield’s annual meeting April 16, but only for one year and with the stipulation that the approval be renewed every year.

Under Wisconsin law, townships with village powers have the authority to adopt and enforce ordinances.

The reason for the Springfield Town Board seeking village powers was not, however, to make stricter laws for town residents, said Bill Reusch, town chair.

St. Croix County is currently working on rewriting the county’s comprehensive zoning code. When the county completely rewrites the zoning code, townships have the opportunity to opt out of county zoning, Reusch explained.

If the Springfield Town Board has village powers, and the town board decides to get out of county zoning, then the township would have the ability to enact its own zoning code, he said.

With the village powers, the Springfield Town Board could, for example, also adopt its own non-metallic mining ordinance, Reusch said.

Village powers must be approved by a majority of the electors who attend the annual meeting or at a special town meeting of the electors called at another time, he said.

Out of all of the townships in St. Croix County, only two do not have village powers: the Town of Baldwin and the Town of Springfield, said Vicky Benson, town clerk.

Benson sent out a survey to the other townships in St. Croix County to find out how long village powers have been in effect.

Out of all of the townships in St. Croix County, only the Town of Star Prairie votes annually to renew village powers.

According to a report Benson supplied to the town board, the Town of Cady has had village powers since April of 2001.

The date of approval for village powers for the Town of Cylon is unknown.

Eau Galle approved village powers in the late 1970s.

The remaining townships have had village powers as follows: Emerald (early 2000s); Erin Prairie (over 15 years ago); Forest (over ten years ago); Glenwood (five or six years ago); Hammond (over six years ago); Hudson (has had village powers for years but the date is unknown); Kinnickinnic (about 20 years ago); Pleasant Valley (spring of 2005); Richmond (four or five years ago); St. Joseph (April 7, 1959); Somerset (around 1997); Troy (April 7, 1959); Warren (before 2004).

Reusch said he liked the idea of the Town of Star Prairie electors voting every year to renew the village powers at the annual meeting.

Under state law, electors have the ability to call a special town meeting at any time during the year and would not have to wait for the annual meeting to rescind village powers.

Village powers would give the town board authority to regulate small businesses in the township, such as a body shop, so that business owners would not have to go through the county, Reusch said.

If the township has a dog ordinance or an ordinance about livestock at large, then the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department would have the ability to enforce the ordinance in the township, said Dean Fayerweather, town supervisor.

The April 16 annual meeting was Fayerweather’s last meeting on the town board.

Fayerweather decided not to run again for town supervisor in the April 2 election.

Village powers also would give the town board the ability to regulate sand mines that have not yet been developed, Fayerweather noted.

A motion to grant village powers to the Springfield Town Board that would be voted on every year at the annual meeting, or earlier if a special meeting is called, was approved with ten “yes” votes.

Two of the electors voted “no” on the motion, and one elector, Brian Mahoney, who was elected as Supervisor II in the April election to replace Fayerweather, abstained from voting.

The resolution granting village powers to the Springfield Town Board goes into effect upon publication and must be published within 30 days, Benson noted.