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Town of Springfield authorizes village powers for the third time

By LeAnn R. Ralph

TOWN OF SPRINGFIELD —  Electors in the Town of Springfield have authorized village powers for the Springfield Town Board for the third year in a row.

The authorization of village powers occurred during the Town of Springfield annual meeting April 21.

Under Wisconsin law, townships with village powers have the authority to adopt and enforce ordinances. For town boards, village powers are most often used to regulate land use.

Electors in Springfield first authorized village powers for the town board in April of 2013 with the stipulation that village powers be re-authorized every year.

In April of 2013 when village powers were first approved by the Springfield electorate, Springfield was only one of two townships in St. Croix County that did not have village powers.

Village powers are granted under Wisconsin statute 60.22(3).

According to the statute, “A resolution under this paragraph is general and continuing.”

Continuing resolutions do not need to be reauthorized.

In the case of village powers, once the electorate approves village powers for a town board, the town board retains village powers until the electorate rescinds village powers, either at an annual meeting or at a special town meeting of the electorate.

According to state statute, rescinding village powers requires an equal or greater number of votes than the number of votes that approved village powers.

In other words, if 50 people approved village powers as a continuing resolution at an annual meeting or a special town meeting, and at a subsequent annual meeting or special town meeting, 40 people voted to rescind village powers, the town board’s village powers authority would remain.

The village powers that a town board may exercise are included in Wisconsin statute 61.34 . Under this authority, the town board “may … act for the government and good order of the … [town], for its commercial benefit, and for the health, safety, welfare and convenience of the public.”

At the Town of Springfield annual meeting April 21, nine people voted in favor of village powers and no one voted against village powers.

When village powers were approved in 2013, St. Croix County was working on rewriting the county’s comprehensive zoning code. With village powers, if the town board decided to opt out of county zoning, then the Springfield Town Board would have had the ability to enact its own zoning code.

At the Springfield Town Board’s June of 2014 meeting, the board voted two to one to remain under St. Croix County Zoning. Town supervisors Brian Mahoney and Jim Mahoney voted in favor of staying with county zoning while Bill Reusch, town chair, voted against county zoning.

At the July of 2014 meeting, Reusch said he wanted the motion from the previous meeting that had approved county zoning to be rescinded.

The two town supervisors who voted in favor of county zoning said at the July meeting last year that they would not change their votes.

The resolution approving village powers will go into effect the day after it is published in the newspaper.

The Springfield Town Board did not discuss why members of the electorate were being asked to reauthorize a resolution that under state statute is a continuing resolution that does not require reauthorization.