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History - Local - Government - Lisbon Incorporation Efforts - chronological history of events

Editor's note: The following is an accumulation of Milwaukee Journal, Sussex Sun and Lake Country Reporter newspaper articles concerning the Town of Lisbon efforts to incorporate itself into a village. They are presented in publication chronological order.

Articles beginning in 1981 and continue through 2009

Continued on Page 2 -  Lisbon Incorporation Efforts - Page 2, Page 3 - Town of Lisbon Consolidation/Merging Discussions

Consolidation gains backers in Lisbon, Sussex

by Cynthia Dennis of The Journal staff, The Milwaukee Journal - Mar 11, 1981

Though it consists primarily of conversation at this point, the idea of consolidating the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex seems to be gaining momentum.

Town officials are reviewing feasibility studies prepared by the Wisconsin Taxpayers alliance for other communities that have considered consolidation. Reports also have been distributed to Village Board members.

Town Chairman Richard Jung said the Lisbon Plan Commission would discuss conducting a feasibility study, which he said could be completed by the end of the year at an estimated cost of $5,000. He said he might schedule a special meeting of the commission members and Town Board members to speed the procedure.

Consolidation is the merger of an entire village, town or city, with another whole village, town or city. The communities involved cease to exist as separate governments and form a new government unit.

Jung said he had received favorable reaction from town and village residents to a study. Village Administrator William Ross said although it was premature to draw conclusions about consolidation, Sussex was willing to talk it over with Lisbon.

Positive conversations of that nature might be considered a small victory for the two communities, which at times have resembled sparring partners more than congenial neighbors.

Although Lisbon has tenaciously attempted to protect its 33-square miles from annexations, especially by Sussex, its success has been spotty. Jung said consolidation would solve that problem.

:We spend months on planning, then lose the land, and planning is for naught," he said.

Lisbon's desperation to curb annexation resulted last year in a town bid to incorporate as a fourth-class city, which was unsuccessful because the State Department of Local Affairs and Development said the town failed to meet four of the five incorporation criteria.

The incorporation bid was prompted in part by Lisbon's frustration over annexation of 150 acres by Sussex for industrial development.

Sussex, with a population of about 3,000 is surrounded by the town, which has more than 8,000 residents. Jung said it made economic sense to combine services. One incorporation criteria not met by Lisbon was ability to provide services superior to those of Sussex.

Lisbon seeks consolidation study

The Milwaukee Journal - Oct 3, 1983

Lisbon - The Town of Lisbon and Village of Sussex should study whether it is feasible for the communities to consolidate, Town Chairman Richard M. Jung said Tuesday,

At Lisbon's Town Board meeting Monday night, Jung said he had sent a letter to Sussex asking that the village place half of the $8,200 needed for the study in its 1984 budget.

Lisbon officials had earlier agreed, put money for the study in the town's 1984 budget.

If approved by both communities, the study would be conducted by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

In April 1981, Lisbon said it would pay half of the $5,000 needed at that time to conduct a consolidation study. However, Sussex said it would not share the cost because the money had not been included in the village's budget for that year.

Jung said he had heard from Sussex residents who were interested in the study.

Lisbon, Sussex fund for study

by Gretchen Schuldt, The Milwaukee Sentinel - Jan 3, 1984

The Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex have budgeted money to pay for a study of the effects of consolidating some municipal services, but that may or may not be significant.

No contract for the study has been signed, and the town and village have been around this particular merry-go-round before, sometimes spinning into battle.

In 1979, Lisbon unsuccessfully sought incorporation as a city to thwart annexation moves by Sussex. Under state law, a village can annex any part of a town that is contiguous to its borders without the approval of town officials.

This year, for the first time, Lisbon had its own Fire Department, established after the village increased the rate it charged Lisbon for fire protection services.

In August, the Village Board passed an ordinance that allowed Sussex to regulate or prohibit offensive industries within four miles of its borders. The area was reduced to 1.5 miles after complaints by Lisbon officials.

Now, however, both municipalities have set aside money for the consolidation study, to be done by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. A proposal was made for a similar study in 1981 but was tabled by both town and village.

"I'm 100% behind this study," Lisbon Town Supervisor Charles E. Schuldt said.

Sussex Village President John H. Tews, however, was not as enthusiastic.

"I have some real doubts if $8,200 would be what it really costs," he said. "I guess we have to look att what it (the study) really covers" before spending money on it.

In the past, Schuldt said, arguments about which municipality could provide services most efficiently were impossible to judge.

"Really, no one knows," he said. "It's really hard to argue when it's impossible to prove if they're right or not."

Schuldt said the two municipalities could share police, road, sewer and water services.

Sussex, which is 3.2 square miles and has a population of 3,700, has budgeted about $154,000 for police protection in 1984, Tews said.

Lisbon, with 30 square miles and a population of about 9,000, has budgeted $12,500 for police in 1984, Schuldt said. Consolidating police services could benefit the village, he said.

However, Tews said that Lisbon did not have 24 hour police protection and had a very low dispatching costs because of the size of its department. He said he did not know whether consolidating the department would save money.

Lisbon has no water and sewer services and could benefit from connecting with Sussex's, Schuldt said.

But the village has balked at providing sewer service to portions of Lisbon unless they annex to the village,

"Why should we?" Tews asked. He said the village treatment plant was scheduled to be phased out by 1995 and discussing the issue might be "arguing a moot point."

Lisbon, Sussex merger called feasible, but legally difficult

by Jay Erickson, Source: The Milwaukee Sentinel - Dec 20, 1984

Sussex - Consolidation of the Village of Sussex and the Town of Lisbon into a new municipality would "generally feasible but probably would not be legally possible," the municipalities' boards learned Wednesday at a meeting on results of a consolidation study.

In presenting the Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance report on its study, WTA Research Director Rindert Kiemel Jr., told the board that annexation of the entire town by the village would be a more desirable course of action.

If a merger is impossible, the two communities should aim for better cooperation in offering services to their residents, Kiemel said.

Kiemel's report said the necessity for state approval of a consolidation would be a major obstacle. State authorities have denied several consolidation petitions over the past few years, he said.

Annexation would be an easier move because the state does not have power to block it, he said.

Under annexation, the Sussex Village Board would adopt a resolution asking for a court-ordered referendum to poll Town of Lisbon residents on the annexation issue.

If the referendum passed, the municipalities' boards would then divide the Town of Lisbon's assets and the town government would be dissolved.

Consolidation, although similar, requires state approval and a favorable referendum vote in each of the municipalities/

Both municipal governments would be abolished under consolidation and a new unit created.

If annexing the whole town is impractical, the village should consider annexing several subdivisions on the town's eastern edge to provide sewer service to the area, Kiemel said.

The recent failures of many septic systems there make sewer service more important than in many other town areas, he said. The village has historically refused sewer service to any area not annexed to Sussex.

Failing either consolidation or annexation, both communities could benefit from cooperation, Kiemel said. For example, the communities have duplicate fire department services, he said.

Lisbon established its own fire department in 1983, after a dispute with Sussex over the cost of Sussex providing contract fire protection to the town.

The report will now be referred to both boards for their consideration.

Town of Lisbon - Board quickly ends talk about merger

by Carol Wahlen of The Journal staff, The Milwaukee Journal - Jan 23, 1990

Lisbon - The Lisbon Town Board has put a quick end tot he question of whether Lisbon and Sussex should be consolidated into one municipality.

The board voted 4-1 Monday night to table a proposed merger study indefinitely.

"It would be like trying to mix oil and water," Town supervisor Teryl Williamson said, "Sussex is totally urban and Lisbon is totally rural. I can't see setting up a committee to study something that I don't believe in."

Sussex Village President Paul Fleischmann said Tuesday that the Village Board had no plans to act on the study when it meets tonight, but that Lisbon's action might be discussed. He said the study could not proceed if Lisbon was not in favor of it.

Town Chairman Donald Holt, who proposed the study, voted against tabling it, saying it was time the two communities took an objective look at consolidation.

Holt said later that the matter probably would be tabled for 20 years, because many Lisbon residents had a lot of misconceptions about consolidation.

"People are afraid they would not have anything to say if the town was merged with Sussex." Holt said. "I don't feel that way."

"I don't think I'd lose the ability to control the way the area is governed. There are more people in the Town of Lisbon so they would have more to say on how the new community would be run."

Before the vote, Town Clerk Betty Fryda read a letter opposing the merger sent by David and Randa Fuller, W265 N6533 Beacon Hills Circle.

The couple said Sussex would retain its name and sense of community, while Lisbon would cease to exist. Sussex would grow from four miles to 36 miles and triple in population, and Lisbon would lose its land and population.

The couple also said that more than $1 million in Lisbon firefighting equipment would be given to Sussex. In addition, Lisbon residents would see higher property taxes, while property taxes for people now living in Sussex would go down, the couple said.

The only benefits would be from eliminating duplicate services and having a greater voice in Waukesha County matters, the Fullers said.

Town supervisor jane Stadler said that the two communities had been working together to consolidate some services such as a public library and recycling program, but that she could not go along with any consolidation plan.

Town Supervisor Daniel Meissner, who made the motion to table the merger study, said he had been in 150 homes in the past two months and found no one in favor of consolidation.

Lisbon surprises neighbors with petition notice - Despite recent border talks, town takes first steps to incorporate as a village

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel< - Tuesday, September 7, 1999

Author: BETSY THATCHER, Journal Sentinel staff

Town of Lisbon officials, hoping to secure the town 's borders from annexation, are seeking to incorporate the community as a village.

It was a move that sparked anger in officials from Sussex, the community with which Lisbon has the largest number of common borders.

"This totally blindsided me," said Sussex Village President Patricia Bartlett.

It was especially surprising in light of the fact that officials of the two communities have been meeting on a frequent basis for two years to forge a municipal boundary agreement, Bartlett said.

"I'm waiting for somebody to take the knife out of my back," Bartlett said.

Bartlett declined to comment on whether the town 's action would derail the boundary talks. She said she did not want to make further comments until after the Village Board meets in closed session on the topic tonight.

Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz, who initiated the incorporation quest, said he was pursuing it simply to try to protect the town 's borders and its future. "This is not a slap at any specific municipality. It's to protect our boundaries now," Schmitz said.

Schmitz said that in hindsight he realized he should have initiated talks with all the town 's neighbors at the same time, not just Sussex, and he is currently pursuing that.

"I want to make sure we do things right, and I want to work out boundary agreements with all the municipalities," Schmitz said, adding that he hoped Sussex officials would not end the discussions on a boundary agreement.

In the meantime, Schmitz said, he decided that seeking incorporation would further protect the town 's borders.

Sussex Trustee Michael Knapp said the town 's action was a shock. "I really feel that it's a shock because usually ( incorporation ) is done by a town to initiate border talks," Knapp said.

Knapp said he was under the impression the two communities' work toward an agreement had been "moving along pretty well."

"It kind of seems like Lisbon 's driven by developers," Knapp said. "It's sad for both communities. I think our relations are at an all-time low right now."

Knapp said it seemed the town was thumbing its nose at the work that's been done by the two communities' Joint Planning Committee.

"Personally, I think it would be very hard to sit down with them again because we'd be very skeptical of them. They'd be hard to trust," Knapp said. "It's two years of wasted time, I feel."

Schmitz said he wants to continue the planning committee's work, "But my job is to protect the best interests of the town ." Lisbon Town Clerk Jeffrey Musche, who with Town Plan Commission member Chris Murawski is seeking the incorporation , said, "the Town of Lisbon would be better off as a village."

Because the town has been growing rapidly -- population is now more than 9,000 -- a village form of government would allow the town to provide services "in a more efficient and effective manner," Musche said.

Also, the town currently does not have control over its future growth, Musche said. With Waukesha County having the power to review land use decisions and neighboring villages and cities having the right to review development proposals, the town does not have full say over how it will look in the future, he said.

An effort was made to incorporate the town into a village in 1979, but it failed.

Lisbon isn't the only Waukesha County community currently seeking incorporation . The towns of Brookfield and Waukesha also are working on making the change. In addition, the Town of Pewaukee became a city earlier this year.

The town must seek a judge's approval to incorporate. It's a process that could take from six months to two years, Musche said.

Schmitz said he asked Musche and Murawski to make the formal petition for incorporation . There was no official action taken by the Town Board and the board did not discuss it, Schmitz said. However, he said he did call each of the four town supervisors to inform them of his plan to seek incorporation .

So far, only a legal "intent to petition for incorporation " has been published, the first step in the process, Musche said. Next, he and Murawski must gather the signatures of 50 town residents on a petition, which must be filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court within six months.

A judge must then submit the petition to the state Department of Administration for review of whether the town meets criteria for incorporation . Finally, the judge must then decide whether to approve the petition, often based on the state's recommendation.

Although a petition has not been filed, the process has officially begun, meaning the town 's borders are now frozen from potential annexations until the process is completed, Musche said.

Sussex walks away from border talks with Lisbon - Village says town 's bid to seek incorporation makes discussions pointless

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Monday, September 13, 1999

Author: BETSY THATCHER, Journal Sentinel staff

Boundary-agreement talks between Lisbon and Sussex have broken down, with Sussex officials saying that as long as Lisbon continues to pursue incorporation they have nothing to talk about.

For two years, officials of both communities have been holding frequent Joint Planning Committee meetings aimed at forging a boundary agreement. The plan was to come up with a pact that would end annexations of Lisbon land by Sussex and set up terms of future sewer service provided by the village.

"For the time being the decision was made (that) we simply will stop meeting. Now that does not mean the committee is dead," said Carl Klingbiel, the Sussex co-chairman of the committee. "We just felt that if the state does grant the town (of Lisbon) village status then there is no need for a boundary agreement.

"So why sit and negotiate something that might get tossed out? What are you possibly going to negotiate? Until there's a decision made I saw little point in going on."

Last week the committee held what was probably its final meeting, at least for the near future.

The breakdown in talks resulted from Lisbon officials' decision to seek incorporation as a village. Two town residents -- Town Clerk Jeffrey Musche and Joint Planning Committee Co-chairman Chris Murawski -- have filed legal notice that they intend to file a petition for incorporation in Waukesha County Circuit Court. The two were acting at the behest of Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz.

Sussex Village President Patricia Bartlett said there was no great animosity at the committee meeting but added she felt "extreme disappointment."

The Sussex contingent simply "said unless Lisbon withdraws their petition we aren't coming to the table anymore," she said.

Echoing Klingbiel's sentiments, Bartlett said further work by the committee would be wasted if the town becomes a village. Bartlett said she remained stunned by the town 's move, one that she and other Sussex officials said they never anticipated.

"I know for two years the theme coming from the Town of Lisbon was they wanted to stay a town , they wanted to stay rural," Bartlett said. "I told them, `When you grow up and decide if you want to be a town or a village maybe we can talk again.' Quite frankly, there's nothing left to discuss at this point."

Schmitz said he was disappointed that the Sussex committee members wanted to stop work on an agreement. "Our feeling was we would still like to meet," Schmitz said. "I'm a little disappointed, but I understand what they're saying."

Schmitz said he would continue to seek village status for Lisbon . Not only would it seal the town 's borders but it would allow the community to purchase sewer service from surrounding municipalities and use a state law that would help the town create a small industrial park, he said.

Schmitz said town leaders were committed to maintaining a rural atmosphere. "You can still stay rural and have bigger lots and be a village," Schmitz said. "We all were towns at one time."

Schmitz said he hoped Lisbon and Sussex could continue their work on other issues in the meantime, such as developing a joint recommendation to the state on plans for widening the recently relocated Highway 164 (old Highway J) and strengthening a fledgling community recreation / education program.

Sussex takes control over some development in Lisbon - Village uses state-given power in reply to bid to incorporate town

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Thursday, September 16, 1999

Author: BETSY THATCHER, Journal Sentinel staff

In response to the attempt of neighboring Lisbon to win village status, Sussex has struck back by invoking a state-given power to control development in part of the town .

The Village Board adopted an ordinance that gives the village final say on any zoning matters within 1 1/2 miles into any abutting town . Because Lisbon surrounds Sussex, the action affects only Lisbon .

Village President Patricia Bartlett said the action was a direct response to Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz's recent decision to seek incorporation of Lisbon as a village.

In seeking incorporation , the town froze its borders, blocking any annexations by Sussex or other neighbors while the incorporation action is pending.

If village status is granted, Lisbon would, in effect, permanently freeze its borders.

The Lisbon action left Bartlett and other officials stunned. They took it as an affront because they had spent the past two years attempting to forge a border agreement with the town .

"We're simply extending our right to oversee what goes on in our extraterritorial area," Bartlett said after the Sussex board took its action Tuesday night.

"We decided on this after the town would not withdraw the ( incorporation ) petition."

Village Trustee Fred Gallant said he would not characterize the action as retaliation, but as a prudent move to preserve village rights and control development near village borders.

Gallant acknowledged that relations between the communities had deteriorated into what he called a "Hatfield-and-McCoy situation."

He also said, "This is within our rights to protect our right to have a say, to have a voice."

Village Attorney John Macy said that the village action was not unique and that it is a power that other Waukesha County communities have used.

Of the Sussex action, Schmitz said Wednesday, "That's fine."

He also said, "Basically, that pretty much covers their extraterritorial rights anyway."

All incorporated municipalities that border towns have review rights over development proposals within 1 1/2 miles of their corporate limits.

Sussex has routinely invoked that power.

Under the new ordinance, however, Lisbon zoning within the extraterritorial area is frozen up to three years, Macy said.

Lisbon will not be able to make any zoning changes in that territory without approval from Sussex while the ordinance is in effect.

There are only two pending developments in the extraterritorial area, said Schmitz, who added that he is not too concerned about the ordinance.

Schmitz said he would appoint members to a Joint Extraterritorial Zoning Committee, as called for under state law.

The committee will include town and village residents.

Sussex Village Board rejects Lisbon development plans - 4 proposals conflict with land-use plan for areas on borders, trustee says

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Author: BETSY THATCHER, Journal Sentinel staff

The Village Board killed four development plans in the Town of Lisbon on Tuesday in short order, following through on its mission to have its say on land use around the village.

The denials of a preliminary plat for a golf course, community and land divisions for a business park, and two smaller residential developments were not retaliatory against Lisbon for its recent bid for village status, said Village Trustee Michael Knapp.

"We're protecting our interests right now," Knapp said.

When the town filed notice that it intends to seek incorporation it effectively sealed town borders, protecting them from further annexations.

The village asserted its extraterritorial rights earlier this month when it adopted an ordinance giving the village the final say on any zoning matters within 1.5 miles into any abutting town . Because Lisbon surrounds Sussex, the action affects only Lisbon .

The Village Board adopted the ordinance in response to Lisbon 's bid to seek village status, a move Sussex officials saw as an affront to them and their efforts to forge a border agreement with the town .

In each of the four cases acted on by the Village Board on Tuesday, Sussex officials said the proposals conflicted with the village's land-use plan. That plan includes all land within its extraterritorial boundaries.

The village has extraterritorial powers under state law.

Knapp said the town and village must now form a Joint Extraterritorial Zoning Committee.

Among the developments opposed by the village Tuesday was Woodside Subdivision, a 275-acre residential community to be built around an 18-hole golf course along Woodside Road north of Plainview Road.

Village Attorney John Macy said both the state and Waukesha County had objections to the plan and the village engineer had some concerns.

That development, in particular, rankled some Sussex officials because the developer, Michael Toebes, has already done some excavation and landscaping work prior to final approvals.

The three other development proposals denied by the board included a 34-acre industrial and business park at Highways K and J, a small land division on Marion Court and an addition to McCormick Estates Subdivision off Richmond Road.

Sussex accepts petition to annex farm in Lisbon - Move could lead town , village into legal fight

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Thursday, October 14, 1999

Author: BETSY THATCHER, Journal Sentinel staff

The Village Board has accepted an annexation petition, setting the stage for a likely court battle with Lisbon .

The board on Tuesday night accepted a petition by MLG Development Inc. of Brookfield, seeking village annexation of the 89-acre Tikalsky farm on the southwestern corner of Highways 164 and K in the town .

MLG wants to develop the land but has not submitted specific plans. The company has said that it is too early to comment on proposals for the site.

The farm is in the Sussex sewer service area, and sewer and water service has been extended to that location, Village Administrator Chris Swartz said.

The village land use plan calls for commercial and residential development there, he said.

Lisbon has contended that an Aug. 27 legal notice of intent to seek incorporation as a village essentially froze the town borders and will prevent any annexations until the incorporation process is concluded.

The review process for such an incorporation request generally takes about two years, Town Attorney Kathryn Sawyer Gutenkunst said.

Sussex can adopt a resolution accepting the annexation petition "and force us to sue them," she said. "But the annexation cannot be effective. The borders are frozen."

Village President Patricia Bartlett said the village was not looking for a court fight with the town .

"We're just saying, `Fine, we'll accept the (annexation) petition,' " Bartlett said.

Bartlett said it has yet to be determined how the incorporation bid would affect the annexation request.

George Hall, director of municipal boundary review for the state Department of Administration, said the issue likely will boil down to which entity filed its documents first -- the firm seeking annexation or the town filing a notice of intent to seek incorporation .

"In essence, the (state) statutes don't place any primacy on different activities which some might argue have more importance than others," Hall said. "It's basically whichever gets filed first. It's pretty common knowledge the town published the legal notice some months ago.

"But this is really a matter for the court to sort out."

MLG filed its annexation petition with the village on Sept. 17.

As to whether the town borders are frozen during the incorporation process, Hall said, case law has established that all parties involved have to put annexations and other issues on hold until the state has made a determination on the incorporation request.

Hall said, however, that it "is an area that is very vague."

If Lisbon sues Sussex over the annexation petition, it would not be unique, Hall said.

"This is common for a town to try through legal means to try to stop any annexations during incorporation (proceedings)," Hall said. "This is the way it's done."

Sussex OKs petition to annex farm in Lisbon

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Sunday, October 17, 1999

The Village Board last week accepted an annexation petition by MLG Development Inc. of Brookfield for the 89-acre Tikalsky farm in the Town of Lisbon on the southwestern corner of Highways 164 and K in the town.

MLG wants to develop the land but has not submitted specific plans. The village land use plan calls for commercial and residential development there, he said.

Lisbon has contended an Aug. 27 legal notice of intent to seek incorporation as a village essentially froze the town borders and will prevent any annexations until the incorporation process is concluded.

Officials said it has yet to be determined how the incorporation bid would affect the annexation request, but the conflict could end up in court.

Waukesha County leaders seek end to border wars - Plan would eliminate towns , exempt county from state boundary reviews

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Friday, November 12, 1999

Author: PAUL GORES AND COLLEEN KRANTZ, Vikki Ortiz of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report. , Journal Sentinel staff

A group of elected officials today will unveil a proposal that would give Waukesha County autonomy to end border wars among communities and have the municipal landscape mirror Milwaukee County's by eliminating towns .

Under a plan sculpted by a group of city and town leaders, Waukesha County would seek legislative approval to be exempt from municipal boundary reviews by the state and free to let communities hammer out border agreements themselves with oversight by a regional planning agency and a panel of three Circuit Court judges.

Eventually, every town in the county would be incorporated as a village or city with protected borders, said Philip Evenson, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, which would administer the plan.

In the process, expensive and contentious litigation over annexations, which has consumed some local governments, would be eliminated and urban sprawl better controlled, Evenson and others said. In the long run, taxpayers and the environment would benefit, they said.

Waukesha Mayor Carol Lombardi said the measure would establish for the county a special legal designation under which communities would have greater flexibility to prepare for future growth.

"It really has to do with having a state law for Waukesha County only . . . that would hopefully want to be signed on to by other urban kind of counties to determine permanent boundaries," Lombardi said.

Delafield Town Chairman Paul Kanter said: "We haven't been able to find a statewide solution that satisfies all of the (concerns of ) local municipalities. The concept here is, `Let's do this from the grass roots, let's have the initiative and the solution come from the local municipalities.' "

Brookfield Mayor Kathryn Bloomberg said the group "has simply tried to deal with a vision that gets us from the continuous boundary disputes that we've all been held captive in."

The group includes Lombardi, Bloomberg, Kanter, Oconomowoc City Administrator Richard Mercier, Vernon Town Chairman Karen Schuh and Summit Town Chairman Maurice Sullivan.

"Now our job is to go out and talk about (the proposal) and take input from a host of other people who have a host of other opinions," said Bloomberg, who said details of the plan would be announced at a 10 a.m. news conference today at Brookfield City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road. "Then, if the vast majority of us can get to a single common place, we would ask the Legislature to give us the legislation to accomplish that."

Under the proposal, all neighboring municipalities would have a two-year window in which to reach agreements establishing permanent boundaries. As part of the process, each town , village and city would address how it would provide its current and future residents with utilities such as sewer and water.

If neighboring communities are unable to reach an agreement after two years with the help of regional planners, the commission would take over and try to craft a boundary agreement. If there was still a dispute, a panel of three judges would set the final boundaries.

"At the end of a couple-year period, boundaries could be adjusted and the 12 remaining towns would be allowed then to incorporate irrespective of the current (state) statutory standards for incorporation ," Evenson said.

"The idea would be to, in as rational a way as possible, fix the municipal boundaries and create 37 incorporated municipalities," Evenson said. "It would be just like Milwaukee County."

The involvement of the regional planning commission would help guarantee consistent urban planning and controlled growth for the entire county, officials said.

"The whole idea, I think, is that all of us recognize that with the growth and development happening in Waukesha County, we can't wait 10 or 15 years and continue to have the same kind of development happening without a cohesive plan," Lombardi said.

Under state law, suburban cities and villages have the power to annex land from adjacent towns . Towns , which are concerned about maintaining their tax base, are relatively helpless to stop annexations except by incorporating as a village or city themselves.

But the state criteria for incorporation as a city or village are stringent, and many suburban towns that have been partially gobbled up by cities and villages have difficulty meeting them.

Currently, by petitioning to become a village or city, towns can freeze their borders and prevent annexation until the petition is analyzed by the state Division of Municipal Boundary Review. That process sometimes takes years because of the backlog in petitions and the small staff of the division, which is a branch of the Department of Administration.

In Waukesha County, there are four towns -- Lisbon , Waukesha, Vernon and Genesee -- with incorporation petitions under review by the state. The Town of Brookfield is appealing a state ruling that rejected its effort to become a village.

"Quite frankly, Waukesha County is embroiled in some of the worst legal battles related to annexation, incorporation and border wars," said the Town of Vernon's Schuh. "And we are trying to look beyond our own interests now."

Assembly Majority Leader Steven Foti (R-Oconomowoc) was unavailable for comment Thursday. But his spokeswoman, Michelle Arbiture, said that "he'd be willing to look at it once he sees details."

"The idea would be to, in as rational a way as possible, fix the municipal boundaries and create 37 incorporated municipalities. It would be just like Milwaukee County."

Plan might resolve area's border brawls

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Saturday, November 13, 1999


To borrow a phrase from modern history and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, "I believe it is peace in our time."

OK, so that might be jumping the gun just a little. And, yes, I know. Chamberlain made that statement after meeting with Hitler, and a year later we had World War II on our hands.

But one can hope.

A momentous proposal is unfolding, from the grass roots up, that would put an end to the costly, destructive and all-too-frequent turf wars that consume much of Waukesha County these days.

Look around. The county is urbanizing at an alarming rate. And often not in a particularly attractive fashion. Certainly not in an efficient one.

Need a refresher?

The brawls over municipal borders have involved half the municipalities in the county: Waukesha and the Town (now City) of Pewaukee; Waukesha and the Town of Waukesha; Oconomowoc and Summit; the Town and City of Delafield and of Hartland; Big Bend and Vernon; the Village and Town of Mukwonago; the City and Town of Brookfield; Lisbon and Sussex; Genesee, Wales and North Prairie.

The only ones who are making out in this fiasco are the attorneys.

A groundbreaking border agreement between Waukesha and the Town of Pewaukee paved the way for Pewaukee's incorporation as a city this year, and set an example. Really, that settlement isn't too far afield from what could happen on a wider scale if this new plan for a kinder, gentler Waukesha County takes hold.

`A Vision for the New Century,` as they're calling it, was conceived by a half-dozen town and city leaders with the guidance of Philip Evenson, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. It proposes that all communities be given two years to negotiate border deals with their neighbors, with SEWRPC's help. If they fail, SEWRPC would recommend final borders and service plans. A panel of circuit judges, ultimately, could order a final settlement. Every town would incorporate as a village or city.

The plan would take special state legislation for Waukesha County. So what? It wouldn't be the first time the Legislature has acted parochially. This time, it actually could be for a noble cause -- efficiency in government planning and services.

Plenty of details still need to be flushed out. The basic concept hasn't even passed muster with attorneys, Evenson conceded. Richard Cutler, a retired, respected legal authority on incorporations , has questioned the constitutionality of circuit judges having the final say on municipal borders and services, which is normally a legislative prerogative. Details, details. They can be worked out.

Evenson said: "It's a vision statement at this point. I'm sure there are 101 questions that would be asked. But at least the big picture has been outlined. Now let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.`

And, of course, a lot more municipal officials than the gutsy handful of leaders who proposed this plan will have to get behind it.

Unfortunately, some Waukesha Common Council members and the city attorney are already going ballistic over the concept without even having heard the substance of the proposal or discussed the details. Some are whimpering because they weren't brought into the discussions from the beginning. That's the kind of childish pouting that separates followers from real leaders and gets us nowhere.

Some aldermen may be legitimately concerned about freezing the city's borders. But given the outlying growth already occurring in the towns , how far can the city realistically be expected to grow in the future anyway? More importantly, how far do we residents really want it to grow?

At the very least, every municipal leader in this county, Waukesha and otherwise, ought to give a fair and complete hearing to the commendable efforts proposed by their colleagues.

With open minds, cooperation and hard work among Waukesha County officials, there might, indeed, be peace in our time.

Sussex approves plan for Lisbon business park

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Monday, November 29, 1999

Author: BETSY THATCHER, Journal Sentinel staff

In one night, the Village Board resolved one lawsuit spawned by its ongoing border war with Lisbon , but opened the door for another court battle.

At a meeting last week, the board reversed its earlier refusal to approve a land division to allow for the development of a small business park on the southeastern corner of Highways 74 and K in Lisbon .

The board initially refused the measure by invoking its extraterritorial plat review authority, a state law that gives a village or city a say in town developments that are within one and a half miles of its border.

The owners of the proposed 35-acre development, Ruth Glick and Ellen Glass, accused the village in a lawsuit of abusing its power and refusing their plan because of "political infighting" between the two communities.

During the same meeting, the board approved the annexation of 89 acres of town property on the southwestern corner of Highways 164 and K so that MLG Development Inc. can build an unspecified project. The board went ahead with the annexation knowing that the town fully intends to file a lawsuit to block the annexation.

These maneuvers are just the most recent in what has become a heated battle between the two communities.

During the summer, the communities appeared well on their way to a border agreement after two years of negotiations.

But on Aug. 27, two Lisbon officials, at the direction of Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz, filed legal notice that they intend to seek the town 's incorporation as a village.

By becoming a village, the town would effectively seal its borders from any further annexation by any of its neighbors.

Sussex officials expressed shock and dismay at the move and berated town officials for destroying the efforts to reach a border agreement.

Schmitz said that the town wanted only to protect its interests. While the town seeks incorporation -- a process that can take up to two years -- its borders are frozen.

Sussex Village Attorney John Macy said that in further reviewing the denial of the Glick/Glass proposal and the property owners' arguments in the court case, "there is at least enough doubt as to what the court would do in the Village Board's mind."

The board originally had denied the plan because it did not meet the village's land use plan, which calls for mineral extraction, or quarrying, in that area.

Macy said that from a quality standpoint, the village had no problem with the business park plan.

As for the annexation of the property at Highways 164 and K, the town has argued that state law prescribes that annexations cannot occur while incorporation efforts are under way.

Macy, however, advised the Village Board that a Waukesha circuit judge ruled in an annexation case involving the Town of Waukesha that annexations could proceed during that process.

"I don't agree with that," said Lisbon Attorney Kathleen Gutenkunst. She said that a state rule in the incorporation process clearly holds that the action filed first -- an annexation petition or legal notice of intent to file for incorporation -- takes precedence.

The incorporation notice was filed Aug. 27 and the annexation petition was filed Sept. 17.

In a third matter, the Village Board stood by its decision to deny a land division request for a small residential development on Marion Court in the town because that plan includes lot sizes smaller than the village's land use plan calls for, Macy said.

"The Village Board wants to be fair to everybody," he said. "They were more than willing to revisit (the Glick/Glass plan)" and would do the same with the Marion Court development if changes are made.

Merton officials are preparing to update village land use plan - Potential business district, annexation battles to be addressed

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Author: BETSY THATCHER, Journal Sentinel staff

The Merton Village Board is expected to enact a village-wide rezoning moratorium in about a month as it prepares to develop a new land use plan.

The existing plan is 20 years old and outdated, Village Clerk Thomas Nelson said.

People's ideas about how the community should develop have changed since 1980, Nelson said.

One of the catalysts for developing a new plan is a desire to get in step with neighboring communities, Nelson said.

He pointed to ongoing battles over annexations and noted that some of the village's neighbors are looking to incorporate as municipalities. That means it would be wise for the village to develop a plan for its boundaries and determine whether there are areas where borders could expand in a logical pattern, Nelson said.

The Town of Merton has begun seeking incorporation as a village to protect its borders. Another village neighbor, the Town of Lisbon , also has begun the incorporation process. While incorporation is being sought, the towns ' land may not be annexed.

Also, if a proposal to seek a special state law that would call for border agreements throughout Waukesha County and for the end of town government in the county is successful, the village needs to be prepared with an idea for how the future should look, Nelson said.

Village officials need to look at future land use as it relates to current ideas, he said.

"We have to make decisions: Do we want a new business area or keep things residential?" Nelson said.

If a new business area is desired, village officials need to consider what kind of business district it would be and how it would affect downtown, he said.

While the board is grappling with such issues, it will not consider any land divisions that would create new developable lots, Nelson said.

The moratorium probably will last about six months and will not be a building moratorium, he said. Construction will be allowed to proceed on any lots where rezoning has already been approved, he said.

Town of Lisbon begins incorporation process

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, March 1, 2000

The Town of Lisbon has begun legal action in Circuit Court seeking to incorporate as a village.

Six months after announcing its intent to seek incorporation to protect its borders, the Town of Lisbon took the next step Monday and submitted signatures of about 75 town residents in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Town of Waukesha loses incorporation bid - Judge dismisses community's petition to become a village after state concludes town is too dependent on city

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Author: MIKE JOHNSON AND LISA SINK, Journal Sentinel staff

Saying it was too fractured and dependent upon City of Waukesha services, the state on Monday denied the Town of Waukesha's request to incorporate as a village.

In a case that is being closely watched by other Waukesha County towns that want to incorporate to protect their land from annexation, the Town of Waukesha's petition was dismissed by a judge after she was informed of the state's findings.

Unlike the former Town of Pewaukee, which was allowed to become a city last year, the Town of Waukesha "has no identifiable community center, no commercial center, no significant social customs or identity, and very few services. It is more like a scattered collection of disparate houses," concluded George Hall, director of Municipal Boundary Review for the state Department of Administration.

More than a half-dozen pockets or "islands" of town land exist within the city's border, Hall said in a lengthy report filed with Circuit Judge Kathyrn Foster.

Foster dismissed the town 's petition to become a village at the request of attorneys for the cities of Waukesha and Brookfield, both of which opposed incorporation . Town Attorney James Hammes did not object to the dismissal, saying Hall's report left the judge little choice.

In his report, Hall noted that there was significant "strained relations" between the town and the city of Waukesha on issues such as development, annexations, and sewer and water services. Moreover, he said, the town has refused to cooperate with the county on regional land-use planning.

Hall's report also says the town had a history of using services of the city and other governmental units "but giving little in return."

"Such behavior hinders the functioning of the City of Waukesha and also of the region as a whole," the report says.

In an interview, Hall said a major factor in his decision was the "extent to which the town is tied to the City of Waukesha."

The 8,000 people in the town need the city for employment and shopping, he said. Although there are businesses in the town , Hall said, they were part of the "retail trade fabric of the city."

Additionally, Hall said, the town only provides a minimal level of services to its residents.

The town is at the "cusp of a wave of urbanization and is not acting like it," he said.

Hall said the town could appeal his recommendation in Waukesha County Circuit Court, or it could request a rehearing before his department. "Rarely do people ask for a rehearing," he said. "I can't recall it ever happening."

Town Chairman Rodney Stilwell said he was disappointed by Hall's decision but that the town had

expected it.

An incorporation request by the Town of Brookfield had been rejected earlier on similar grounds.

"I guess the way the law stands, we didn't meet the criteria," Stilwell said. "I guess we can't cry over

spilled milk."

But he said Hall's decision may have set a precedent for other towns hoping to incorporate.

"I think this decision will reflect quite heavily on our neighbors who have petitions out," Stilwell said.

The towns of Vernon, Lisbon and Genesee also are seeking to incorporate. Their cases are being reviewed by the state.

Waukesha Mayor Carol Lombardi was elated by the news.

"The city felt all along it was not legitimate that the town met the criteria for village status," she said.

Nonetheless, Stilwell said the town will continue to try to convince the city to extend sewer and water services to town land.

In February, the town sued the city in an attempt to force it to extend those services to the town without requiring annexation. The city has a general policy of not offering municipal water and sewer services without annexation. That lawsuit is pending in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Stilwell said he would like to see a border agreement between the city and town , but he doubts the city is willing to negotiate.

"We have approached the city numerous times and gotten nowhere," he said.

And the Common Council already is on record as opposing a countywide plan that would seal the borders of towns throughout Waukesha County.

Lombardi said if the Common Council agreed, she would be open to talking with the town about a "rational agreement" on borders.

But, she said, "We as a city do hold a lot more cards. We have the municipal services."

Town Board blasts state official over review of incorporation bid

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, May 26, 2000

Author: LISA SINK, Journal Sentinel staff

In a scathing nine-page letter, the Town Board has accused the state official who denied the town 's bid for incorporation of failing to be objective and fair in his review.

Board supervisors said they were concerned about how the same official, state Municipal Boundary Review Director George Hall, would treat other towns in Waukesha County that have incorporation requests pending in Hall's office.

In March, Hall chastised leaders from both the Town and City of Waukesha to end their bickering over incorporation issues or he would seek court sanctions against them.

In an interview Thursday, Town Supervisor Steve Smart said of Hall's ultimate decision, which went against the town : "We thought it was not fairly done and objectively done."

"Everything in his determination was a little slanted," Smart said, adding: "I was highly insulted by the wording and the determination that was given to the court.

"After looking at our case and talking to other town boards, we thought they should get a fair shake."

The Towns of Genesee, Vernon and Lisbon have filed incorporation requests. Hall's office recently denied a request by the Town of Brookfield. Last year, however, the state granted the Town of Pewaukee's bid to become a city.

Copies of the Town of Waukesha's letter to Hall, dated May 19, went to Department of Administration Secretary George Lightbourn, Waukesha Mayor Carol Lombardi and other local politicians. It stated that Hall's report "appears to have been written for, and by, the City of Waukesha."

"Suffice it to say, we believe your determination to be a recitation of positions taken by the city and county and not any reasoned evaluation of the criteria" for incorporation , the letter says.

In an interview Thursday, Hall was reluctant to respond, but said he was "frustrated." He said he was not surprised the town officials wrote the letter but said: "I was surprised at the level of vituperation and misstatement."

"Our determination stands. It is what it is. If they felt so aggrieved, why didn't they appeal it?" Hall asked.

Asked to respond to the town 's belief that he was biased and unfair, Hall said: "With all due respect to them, I would disagree. Most people know me and my reputation as being very objective."

He said he reviewed the issues and criteria thoroughly and followed the law. But he did not want to respond to each complaint in the letter, saying he would need "100 pages" to answer them.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Kathryn Foster denied the Town of Waukesha's incorporation bid last month in court after receiving Hall's findings. The Town Board said in its letter to Hall that it would not appeal the denial.

In areas being urbanized, developers frequently ask that their land be annexed from towns to municipalities that provide sewer or water service and usually allow smaller lot sizes or multifamily units.

Also, some cities and villages have full-time firefighters on standby and provide paramedics to respond to medical emergencies. Many towns , such as the Town of Waukesha, have lower tax rates but lack some of those types of services.

Besides negotiated boundary agreements to which both sides must agree, towns have often resorted unilaterally to legal challenges or incorporation to attempt to stop annexations of valuable tax base.

The letter, signed by Town Chairman Rodney Stilwell and Supervisors Smart and Robert Tallinger, stressed that it was not the Town Board's idea or desire to seek incorporation as a village. However, Smart said Thursday, the Town Board really had no choice but to file the request after more than 1,200 residents petitioned the board to do so.

The town 's letter says Hall personally attended a Waukesha town board meeting in January 1998 and, "You specifically stated that, in your opinion, a petition to incorporate the Town of Waukesha could receive department approval."

Hall also assured the town that it did not need to have a "core" community center to win approval, the letter says.

In an interview Thursday, Hall denied making those statements.

Nonetheless, the Town Board says in its letter that it long expected a denial because the residents' request for incorporation included pockets or "islands" of land inside the city's borders.

However, the board said it was "dismayed" at Hall's report, saying it unfairly compared the town 's services with those of the city and wrongly assumed that town residents want to enjoy and pay for those added services.

The letter notes that the report detailed how much more money the city spends on services.

"It appears to us that your department is more concerned with the expenditure of money than it is with the types of services that residents of a municipality want and need," the letter says.

Board members said they had hoped that Hall's report would have urged the city and town to "seek a cooperative resolution of some of the differences that have surfaced over the past decade."

"Your determination, however, will incite only further differences and more litigation," the letter says.

Smart said in an interview: "I would just prefer to sit down with the City of Waukesha and work out our differences. The town has tried," he said. But the Waukesha Common Council refuses to come to the table, he said.

Mayor Lombardi was out of the office and unavailable for comment Thursday.

Hall said he agreed that the two communities should enter into some form of mediation.

Residents rate town services - Lisbon survey seeks input on public facilities, land use, annexation issues

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, Journal Sentinel staff

Lisbon residents can rate town services and land use in a survey mailed recently, the first in at least six years.

The town is involved in incorporation proceedings and is negotiating with Sussex officials to save its territory from annexation by neighboring municipalities, Town Clerk Jeff Musche said.

"We seem to be at a point in our history where there are a lot of things coming. . . . We're going to have to make conscious decisions about our future."

A hearing on the town 's incorporation request is tentatively scheduled for November, and boundary negotiations are continuing, he said.

The 18-question survey was sent to 3,300 town residents, and 600 people have responded already, Musche said.

The deadline to return the surveys is Nov. 10. Results will be available in January.

Information the survey seeks includes the level of : satisfaction with town services, such as garbage collection, police, fire and building inspection; satisfaction with the overall quality of life; use of park facilities; willingness to pay for a swimming pool/aquatic center; interest in joining the paid-on-call Fire Department; interest in creating a full-time police department.

A part-time department and the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department patrol Lisbon .

A task force in Sussex is studying the feasibility of constructing a community center that may include a swimming pool. The town included a question about the swimming pool to learn whether Lisbon residents would support that effort, Musche said.

"The first question asks if they would use it if it were built in Lisbon or a nearby community, and the second question asks if they would be willing to pay for it," Musche said of the pool. The question was modeled after one in a survey Sussex recently did of its residents.

Survey results will have ramifications on municipal boundary negotiations and land use planning, Musche said.

On land use, the survey asks residents to evaluate town goals of providing educational and recreational programs, green space and parks, a corporate park and multifamily housing.


Agreement could end town , village border disputes this year

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Monday, December 18, 2000

Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, Journal Sentinel staff

Legal battles between the Town of Sussex and the Village of Lisbon over annexation and incorporation could end this month if the two communities approve a boundary agreement, officials said.

While details of the tentative agreement have not been made public, they are being reviewed by attorneys for each municipality, officials said.

If governmental bodies in both communities approve, residents could get a late Christmas present with the end of lawsuits spawned from annexation-related disputes.

The boundary agreement would define municipal borders, show where each community may grow and prevent the town from losing land to unexpected annexations.

Jeff Musche, Lisbon town administrator, said the proposed boundary agreement "allows long-range planning, more accurate planning -- and in a more meaningful way."

"If you know what kind of growth you may experience, you can make more intelligent decisions," Musche said.

As an example, he pointed to the town 's discussion of whether to expand its part-time Police Department to full time. The board considered creating a full-time department but then declined to do it.

Village Administrator Chris Swartz said cooperation always benefits communities. "If we fight, no one wins but the lawyers," he said. "If you cooperate, you can do more together."

Swartz said a border agreement can lead to joint service agreements that are often more economical.

Sussex and Lisbon began discussions on an agreement in October 1998.

Recent confrontations have included:

-- February 1997, when the Village filed a lawsuit against the town because it was denied the right to review Majestic Heights, a subdivision west of Woodside Road and south of Plainview Road. A court ruling in March 1999 favored the village because the subdivision fell within the 1.5-mile radius of the village within which it has extraterritorial review powers under state law.

-- In September 1999, the town filed a petition seeking incorporation as a village. Sussex walked away from negotiations for a boundary agreement once that happened, only to resume talks later.

-- In January, Lisbon filed a lawsuit against the village for its acceptance of the annexation of the Tikalsky farm. The 89-acre parcel near Highways 164 and K is owned by MLG Development Inc. of Brookfield.

Both court cases -- the Tikalsky farm and the incorporation -- are awaiting the outcome of the boundary agreement negotiations, Musche said.

Lisbon , Sussex approve municipal boundary agreement - Deal signals end to years of political, legal disputes between communities

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, December 28, 2000

Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, Journal Sentinel staff

Ending years of lawsuits and political dispute, Sussex and Lisbon officials Wednesday unanimously approved an agreement that solidifies the communities' municipal boundaries.

The Town of Lisbon surrounds the Village of Sussex, and town officials feared that continued growth of the village would gobble up land from the town .

Previously, in an effort to deter private-property owners from seeking to bring their land into the village, Lisbon sought state permission to incorporate as a village, which would have precluded annexations.

Sussex officials retaliated by leaving the negotiating table at which officials had been trying to formulate a boundary agreement.

Both parties returned to the bargaining table, however, and on Wednesday night the Sussex Village Board and the Lisbon Town Board met after an open house and public discussion on the agreement.

About 75 people packed into a room at the Pauline Haass Public Library for the events.

"This is the greatest thing that happened to the Village of Sussex and the Town of Lisbon since sliced bread," village Trustee Hank Carlson said.

A boon for both?

Town Supervisor Ron Evert said he remembers both communities being at odds since he was a child, when his father was a member of the Village Board. Evert moved to Lisbon in 1974.

Viewing the agreement from both sides of the fence, he believes it benefits both municipalities. Residents will see changes in both communities, such as a lot more cooperation, he said.

"This agreement is fair and equitable for both parties," Evert said. "If there are skeptics out there, I think they'll find out it's the best for the town and the village."

According to the agreement, Sussex will limit its growth to an additional 1,200 acres, and town officials may not dispute any annexations within those areas.

Owners of any parcels not included in the 1,200-acre limit will have a difficult time getting them annexed to the village, officials said. The agreement reflects the village's decision on growth, "and that's it," Village President Patricia Bartlett said.

Also in the agreement, the communities will study the feasibility of sharing services such as police, fire and public works. Shared services can provide a cost-saving opportunity and prevent duplication of services, officials said.

The agreement also includes a provision allowing planning commissions from both municipalities to review development proposals.

Effort to incorporate continues

Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz said the agreement doesn't include everything the town wanted, but it doesn't include everything the village wanted. "We did what we felt was best for the town ," Schmitz said.

The agreement does not end the town 's effort to incorporate as a village, said Kathryn Sawyer Gutenkunst, town attorney.

Here are some events that preceded Wednesday's vote:

February 1997 Sussex sues Lisbon because it is denied the right to review a proposed subdivision called Majestic Heights, west of Woodside Road and south of Plainview Road.

July 1997 Members of the Sussex- Lisbon Joint Plan Committee meet with George Hall, director of Municipal Boundary Review for the state Department of Commerce, who provided information on border agreements.

October 1998 Boundary talks begin.

December 1998 Sussex and Lisbon discuss enacting a one-year development moratorium while a Joint Plan Committee works on agreements for boundaries and issues involving future growth.

March 1999 In the Majestic Heights case, a Waukesha County Circuit Court rules for the village, stating it has the right to approve or reject the subdivision.

September 1999 Lisbon begins the process to incorporate as a village despite meetings between the two communities over a boundary agreement, angering Sussex officials. The incorporation process freezes all town boundaries.

Days later, Sussex officials walk away from the boundary talks and adopt an extraterritorial review ordinance giving the village the final say over development of land 1 1/2 miles from a shared border.

In the following weeks, with new ordinance in hand, the Village Board rejects four proposed developments in Lisbon a 275-acre residential and golf course development, a 34-acre business park near Highways K and J, and two smaller residential developments.

October 1999 The Village Board accepts an annexation petition for an 89-acre development proposed by MLG Development Inc. of Brookfield. The Tikalsky farm, near the southwestern corner of Highways 164 and K, becomes the center of another lawsuit. Lisbon sues the village over the annexation, saying the incorporation process freezes the municipal boundaries.

November 1999 The Village Board reverses its denial of a small business park proposed the previous month after property owners file a lawsuit alleging that the village denied approval improperly because of "political infighting."

Incorporation proceedings and other hearings over lawsuits scheduled throughout the year are delayed, pending the results of the boundary negotiations.

Lisbon , Sussex have decided to resume boundary talks

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Monday, July 31, 2000

Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, Journal Sentinel staff

Lisbon and Sussex have called a temporary truce to their border battles and resumed boundary agreement discussions.

Two court hearings related to the ongoing disputes between the communities have been postponed, pending the outcome of the negotiations, Lisbon Town Clerk Jeffrey Musche said.

The postponed hearings involve Lisbon 's efforts to incorporate as a village to protect its borders and the town's lawsuit against Sussex over its annexation of 89 acres on the southwest corner of Highways 164 and K.

Musche said town and village officials and their respective attorneys recently began meeting in private to talk about a border agreement. If such an agreement is reached, Lisbon would no longer need village status to protect itself against annexations.

Sussex Village Administrator Chris Swartz said the joint village and town committee addressing border disputes is inactive for now. In its place, a work group is meeting, "trying to find areas of common ground."

Discussions on the joint committee broke down last September when the town filed a petition for incorporation. The move surprised and angered many Sussex officials, who said they would not re-enter negotiations until Lisbon withdrew its incorporation request.

At the time, Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz said Lisbon was only trying to protect its borders.

Last October, Sussex countered by accepting an annexation petition for the 89-acre Tikalsky farm, a move that angered the town.

Lisbon then sued to block the annexation, arguing its petition to incorporate froze its borders until the state and a judge decided whether it could become a village.

The Sussex Plan Commission earlier this month got a look at a concept design presented by MLG Development Inc. of Brookfield for the Tikalsky development. The plan includes the construction of at least 38 single-family homes.

Condominiums along Highway 164 and a commercial development near the intersection also have been proposed for the property, but plans have not been presented to the Plan Commission, Swartz said.

Lisbon and Sussex aren't alone among Waukesha County communities in boundary discussions. Dousman and the Town of Ottawa are discussing a possible border agreement, and Wales and Town of Genesee officials may soon sign their own agreement.

The Village and Town of Mukwonago earlier this year reached a border agreement, which took effect June 9. And the City of Oconomowoc and Town of Summit have an agreement over the 1,600-acre Pabst Farms development at I-94 and Highway 67.

Meanwhile, Vernon and Big Bend are dealing with their boundary disagreements by discussing a merger

If these 2 can get along, who knows what's next?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Author: LAUREL WALKER, Journal Sentinel staff

Eighteen months ago, I wouldn't have believed it: Vernon and Big Bend, buddies.

Maybe that's a stretch, but what's going on now between these two is remarkable.

These were the municipalities, you may recall, that spent the better part of two years fighting like a couple headed to divorce court over operation of their joint Fire Department. There were so many cooks between the lot of them that they couldn't hire a head chef -- er, chief. They couldn't agree on a budget or equipment purchases. Or staffing. Or how to set up a supervising board.

Fast-forward to a joint meeting between the two a couple of weeks back. Vernon town supervisors and Big Bend trustees not only voted to pursue a study of consolidation , they agreed to do so unanimously.

This is a long way off from a merger , of course, but it's a start in the right direction. The two set up a study committee and a plan to look at all the factors in such a marriage. The action shows that local officials can put aside differences to work toward the benefit of their communities.

Maybe the new tone is anchored in the good results produced in their Fire Department, once the two stopped fighting and got on with hiring a chief. Maybe it's a credit to Muskego Mayor David DeAngelis, who helped mediate differences between Vernon Town Chairman Karen Schuh and Big Bend Village President James Soneberg. Whatever the reason, let's hope they keep it up.

"Mr. Soneberg and I have a very colorful past," Schuh said, referring to their skirmishes. But this time, she said, the two are trying to keep personalities out of the discussion and get to the bottom line -- an explanation of the ups and downs of consolidation .

In the end, once they've got some answers about consolidation , it will be up to each community's board, the state, and residents, by separate referendum, to decide whether Big Bend and Vernon will end up as one. Good work now will make the answer easier later on.

Could cooperation be catching? It feels that way.

The City and Village of Pewaukee were the first communities in Waukesha County to seriously talk about a merger in decades. An ad hoc committee of the city and village seem close to recommending a consultant for nailing down the advantages and disadvantages of a merger . Both governing boards seem open to the idea of further study.

"We're maturing," said Village President Tom Millard. "It's not like the old days," when turf battles, not peace treaties, were at the top of the agenda.

Across the county line, the Town and Village of East Troy in Walworth County are also talking about consolidation , and representatives from those communities sat in on a recent Pewaukee merger discussion to look for some guidance.

While outright consolidation hasn't been the focus elsewhere, there have been a number of border agreements, including in the booming Lake Country, that are helping communities establish ultimate boundaries and plan sensibly for services. Some haven't given up, such as Sussex and Lisbon , who have called a truce in their on-again, off-again border war.

Even where borders are already fixed, communities are finding logic in merged services. Nashotah and Chenequa, for example, are talking about combining their fire departments.

Spearheaded by a handful of municipal leaders and promoted by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, an effort is under way to get special state legislation that would incorporate all of Waukesha County's towns while requiring the communities to plan for delivery of public services. So far, though, progress on that plan is slow.

But who knows? If enough communities follow the lead of truce-makers like the Pewaukees, Big Bend and Vernon, the countywide plan won't be needed.

Lisbon , Merton officials consider selling land for development

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, Journal Sentinel staff

A Lisbon town supervisor and Merton's village president have teamed up to propose a 131-acre development within the village.

Dan Meissner of Lisbon and Robert Weber of Merton are considering whether to sell the land they own south of Highway VV between Winkelman Road and Highway MD to Waukesha-based developers Redmond Development Co.

Weber had no comment on specifics of the proposal but said he will not participate when the Village Board discusses it.

Developing the land, which belonged to his family for more than 100 years, does not mean Weber will be leaving the area or giving up his family home, Weber said. "I still sleep in the room where I was born, and I plan to die there, too."

Weber's grandfather, Nat, purchased the land in the 1880s. Weber took ownership in the 1950s and sold 100 acres to Meissner in the early 1980s, Weber said.

Meissner did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Conceptual designs for the development include 79 single-family homes on 80 acres, nearly 20 acres of open space and 15 acres for a village park, about 12 acres for a church and three acres for commercial development.

The commercial development would be near Highway MD.

Lot sizes will range from 1 to 1.5 acres.

The village's Plan Commission approved the conceptual plan last month, but the development cannot move forward until a decision is made on Lisbon 's efforts to incorporate as a village.

Lisbon 's municipal boundaries are frozen while it seeks incorporation , and nearly 72 acres of the parcel proposed to be developed must be annexed from Lisbon into the village.

Lisbon and Sussex approved a boundary agreement on Dec. 27, but a decision on Lisbon 's incorporation proceedings is pending.

With the newly proposed subdivision and the Blackhawk Farms subdivision already in the works, Merton will likely reach its population projection for 2010 in two to three years, officials said.

At the beginning of 2000, Merton's population was estimated at 1,619. For 2010, the village's population projection is 1,764, according to the state Department of Administration.

The village has grown 35% over the last decade, from about 1,199 people in 1990.

If both subdivisions progress, another 300 to 400 people could move into the village, said Thomas Nelson, village clerk.

Construction is likely to begin on the Blackhawk Farms subdivision in spring. The 66-lot subdivision would be on 90 acres near the northeast corner of Dorn and Rybeck roads.

Lisbon , Merton sketching out border talks - Terms expected quickly; Lisbon wants village status

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Saturday, February 3, 2001

Author: JACQUELINE SEIBEL, Journal Sentinel staff

Despite having reached a boundary agreement with Sussex , Lisbon 's battle to protect its borders is still being waged.

In the next round, the neighboring communities of Lisbon and Merton are close to beginning discussion of future boundaries, and the Town of Lisbon has reiterated its desire to incorporate as a village.

"We didn't want to do a border agreement," said Thomas Nelson, Merton village clerk. "But I guess we'll have to."

As part of the state's Smart Growth program, preference for funding of land use plans is headed for communities working together with neighboring communities. Also, Nelson said he believes the village has good relationships with surrounding communities, including Lisbon , and wished that to continue.

The Merton Village Board is selecting designees to meet with Lisbon officials and discuss meetings that should occur, Nelson said.

Merton would like to extend its boundary east to Highway MD and south to Ainsworth Road, Nelson said. This area includes 131 acres, owned by two public officials, which is proposed to be annexed to the village and developed into 79 single-family lots, a park, a church and a commercial venture.

Village President Robert Weber and Lisbon Town Supervisor Daniel Meissner are considering selling the land they own south of Highway VV between Winkelman Road and Highway MD to Waukesha-based Redmond Development Co.

Project is on hold

The Merton Plan Commission approved the conceptual design of the Weber-Meissner development in December, but the project is now on hold, Nelson said. Lisbon 's borders are frozen while the town seeks incorporation so the project cannot proceed as planned, he said.

Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz, Clerk Jeffrey Musche and at least one other supervisor will likely represent the town in the boundary agreement discussions, Musche said.

"Negotiations will be completed with Merton far more quickly than with Sussex ," Musche said.

Ending years of lawsuits and political disputes, Lisbon and Sussex signed a boundary agreement on Dec. 27 solidifying those two communities' municipal boundaries.

Lisbon is along Merton's eastern boundary, and the town doesn't have the tumultuous history with Merton that it does with Sussex .

Also, the threat of annexation from Merton isn't as great because Lisbon surrounds Sussex , and prior to the boundary agreement there was a good chance Sussex would have gobbled up town land before Merton could, officials said.

According to the agreement, Sussex can grow only by another 1,200 acres, and town officials may not dispute the annexation of the designated land.

An additional, part of the agreement includes a study of shared services including police, fire and public works.

Incorporation petition

In its continuing efforts to incorporate as a village, Lisbon officials will begin Thursday circulating a petition asking town residents and property owners if they agree.

Regardless of the outcome of the incorporation process, it is the intent of town officials to negotiate boundary agreements with surrounding municipalities including Menomonee Falls, Lannon and Pewaukee, Musche said.

The town's current petition to incorporate was dismissed last week because the town's boundaries will change as a result of its border agreement with Sussex , Musche said.

Town boundaries were frozen when the town began its incorporation process in March 2000 in Waukesha County Circuit Court. However, as a result of the agreement with Sussex , the town boundaries will change so the legal description of the proposed village has to change.

The town needs 50 signatures of residents who own property to agree that the town should become a village, Musche said.

Lisbon , Merton reach accord on boundaries

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Friday, March 29, 2002

Author: ANA CABAN, Journal Sentinel staff

More than a year after Merton and Lisbon announced they would begin border talks, officials from the communities have approved an agreement that solidifies their municipal boundaries.

The boundary agreement is the second for Lisbon , which reached a similar agreement with Sussex in December 2000 after years of lawsuits and political disputes.

"It freezes our boundaries on the west, and it allows us to grow without worrying about annexation," Lisbon Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz said of the agreement with Merton.

Merton is on Lisbon 's western boundary. The town doesn't have the tumultuous history with that community as it did with Sussex , Schmitz said.

Instead, the agreement was spurred after Merton Village President Robert Weber and Lisbon Town Supervisor Dan Meissner proposed a 131-acre development for Merton that would have required the annexation of 72 acres from Lisbon .

The town filed a "friendly lawsuit" to stop the annexation, which froze Lisbon 's boundaries until the two communities could devise an agreement.

Weber declined to comment on the agreement because of his proposed development, but Village Clerk Thomas Nelson said the plan would benefit both communities and give Merton room to grow.

"There is really no huge intent for the village to expand," Nelson said.

"It just made sense to have a plan."

Under the agreement, Merton would eventually gain almost 575 acres and extend its boundary east to Highway MD and Lake Five Road, south to Ainsworth Road and north to the Bugline Recreation Trail, Nelson said.

The area southwest of Highway MD includes the 131 acres owned by Weber and Meissner, which is proposed to be annexed to the village and developed into 79 single-family lots, a park, a church and a commercial venture.

Lisbon Town Clerk Jeffrey Musche said the agreement is good for both communities.

"We now have permanent boundaries with the Village of Merton that allow us to do more accurate long-range planning," he said.

Lisbon officials signed the agreement Feb. 25.

Merton officials signed it March 5.

If no one challenges the agreement over the next few weeks, the Waukesha County Circuit Court is scheduled to approve it in May as a settlement to the lawsuit.

As part of the agreement, the communities will form a joint planning committee that would review developments within the lands that Merton will annex and surrounding areas.

"It creates joint planning areas so you don't get an abrupt change in character of the development, so we are not putting up commercial businesses and factories next to residential neighborhoods," Musche said.

The communities will also study the feasibility of sharing services such as police, fire and public works.

Shared services can provide a cost-saving opportunity and prevent duplication of services, officials said.

Merton has agreed to repay Lisbon for improvements completed on Ainsworth Road and will not oppose any future plans by Lisbon to incorporate.

"We weren't opposed to incorporation ," Nelson said.

"We were opposed to not being able to annex."

Lisbon officials said there are no immediate plans to petition for incorporation .

The town's first incorporation petition was dismissed last year after Lisbon reached the border agreement with Sussex , thus redefining its borders and invalidating the petition, Musche said.

A second petition was dismissed after Lisbon officials learned of a new state law that requires a $20,000 fee for the petition to be reviewed.

Instead, Lisbon officials said, they will concentrate on developing border agreements with other neighbors, including the City and Village of Pewaukee, Menomonee Falls and Lannon.

"We hope to get boundary agreements with all of them," Schmitz said.

Richfield budget on hold - Cost of police hinges on vote for village status

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Sunday, October 7, 2007

Author: DON BEHM, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Richfield — Residents would pay the Washington County Sheriff’s Department $398,000 for police services in 2008 if voters in a Nov. 6 referendum election decide the town should become a village, Administrator Toby Cotter said.

A village is required by state law to provide its own police service, and Cotter has proposed a contract with the Sheriff’s Department as the least-costly option for meeting the mandate.

Creating an independent Richfield police department by hiring and training officers, buying vehicles, weapons and ammunition, and leasing office and garage space might cost a minimum of $1 million, Cotter said. Town board discussion of that option ended when the estimated price arrived.

"We have a good working relationship with the Sheriff’s Department now," Cotter said in discussing his proposal. "There are no complaints of slow responses. That will make the transition easy."

The department currently patrols Richfield and all other towns in the county "24/7" as part of its routine duties, Sheriff Dale Schmidt said.

Two or three deputies on each shift are assigned to patrol south of state Highway 60 in the county, Schmidt said. They are responsible for the towns of Hartford, Jackson, Polk, Erin and Richfield.

Richfield would pay the Sheriff’s Department for hiring two full-time deputies under the proposal, Schmidt said. Each would work a different shift and their schedules would vary to ensure one would be in the towns daily.

Also, the department would not cut back from its round-the-clock commitment of two or three deputies south of Highway 60.

The two deputies assigned to Richfield would be assigned squad cars that they could use to commute to work, eliminating the need for garage space in Richfield, according to Schmidt. The Richfield name also would be painted on each squad along with the logo of the Sheriff’s Department.

"This is Richfield’s choice," said Schmidt, explaining that he did not solicit the contract.

Budget options Due to the uncertainty of the outcome of the Nov. 6 incorporation vote, Cotter has prepared two budgets for residents to consider at the town’s annual budget meeting set for Nov. 13.

Should Richfield remain a town in 2008, he proposes total spending of $3.18 million. A village would spend $3.58 million next year, with the major difference being the police services contract, Cotter said.

The contract’s impact on the property tax rate for next year would be $0.21 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Under that proposal, the owner of a $250,000 home would pay an extra $52.50. The town’s current rate of $1.25 per $1,000 would climb to $1.46 per $1,000 as a village.

This would be the Washington County Sheriff’s Department’s first police-service contract with a municipality, Schmidt said.

Such contracts are more common in Waukesha County, where the Sheriff’s Department contracted with the Village of Sussex in 1980 and added the Village of Merton and towns of Waukesha, Delafield and Merton along the way. The Town of Lisbon has proposed disbanding its own police force in favor of a contract with the department.

Richfield would not be required to add any other services should it become a village, according to Cotter.

The town already contracts for fire protection with the Richfield Volunteer Fire Company, and it would maintain that relationship should the community become a village, he said. Cost for the contract in 2008 is $414,000.

On Aug. 23, the state Incorporation Review Board agreed the town has the uniform population distribution that would be expected in a village. The board granted the town’s petition to incorporate pending the vote.

Richfield Citizens for Village Incorporation , a registered pro- incorporation group, has scheduled two referendum campaign rallies at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Oct. 18 at the Richfield Chalet, 1271 Highway 175. The meetings are open to Richfield residents.

For information on the group, go to their Web site — The group is urging residents to vote "Yes" on the Nov. 6 referendum question.

No incorporation opposition group had formed in the town or registered to campaign against the referendum question as of Wednesday.

Gaining village status would prevent annexation of Richfield territory and enable the town to control its borders, officials said.

To learn more Two informational meetings are scheduled for residents to ask questions about the Town of Richfield’s proposed change to a village.

The meetings are scheduled for:

• 12-5 p.m. Oct. 15

• 2-7 p.m. Nov. 1

• The meetings will be at Richfield Town Hall, 4128 Hubertus Road

• Residents can register to vote at the two informational meetings

Lisbon gets push toward incorporation - Residents urge evaluation start

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Author: MIKE JOHNSON, Staff: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lisbon— Saying they want to preserve the town’s identity and its rural character, residents directed the Town Board on Tuesday night to conduct a serious evaluation of the requirements necessary for the town to incorporate as a village or city.

In the short term, they told the board at the town’s annual meeting, Lisbon should seek boundary agreements with neighboring communities to prevent the town from shrinking through annexation.

In the long term, residents, by a 31-14 vote on a motion made by resident Denise Wenger, instructed the board to prepare to pursue incorporation .

The motion is non-binding, but the majority of the 55 residents who attended the meeting made it clear to the board that they do not want to see Lisbon swallowed up by neighboring communities.

Resident Mark Meyer said it is "virtually guaranteed" that the town will cease to exist if it does not seek incorporation .

The town already has border agreements with Sussex and Merton.

Others in attendance at the meeting, including members of a visioning committee that is studying the incorporation , argued against Wegner’s motion, saying that it was premature.

Sherry Howard, a visioning committee member, said that the group has yet to present its recommendations to the Town Board for consideration.

The group is recommending that the town seek long-term border agreements, she said. Incorporating as a village or city could be an option 20 years down the road, Howard said.

In August, George Hall, senior program and policy analyst for the state Department of Administration, which oversees municipal incorporations , told town officials that Lisbon could apply to become a village but might face long odds if it applies using the town’s current borders.

State law governing incorporation requires that a town considering incorporation be homogenous and compact. Lisbon likely would have to give up some of its land to Sussex to achieve compact borders, town officials noted Tuesday.

The town attempted to incorporate into a village in 1979 but was denied, according to state records. Incorporation is a lengthy process that would require approval from Circuit Court and a state review board. If both the court and the review board approved, and no neighboring communities objected, a referendum would then be held to see if residents approve of incorporating as a village.

The process can cost more than $100,000. It took Richfield, in Washington County, about two years to incorporate.

Copyright 2008, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

Countywide dispatch proposed - Finley scraps smaller merger in pursuit of new system

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Thursday, October 4, 2001

Author: SCOTT WILLIAMS, Journal Sentinel staff

From the ruins of a failed communications system merger involving a handful of communities, County Executive Dan Finley hopes to craft a countywide emergency dispatch center that would become part of a new county Public Safety Department.

Finley announced Wednesday he is abandoning plans for the smaller system along with the cost-sharing arrangement that had alienated some community leaders involved in the ill-fated venture.

Under the proposed countywide consolidation , Finley said, the county would pay all of the projected $5 million in annual operating costs. Participating communities would be asked to pay only half the expense of constructing a new dispatch center, which is expected to cost another $5 million.

"That's the easy part," Finley said of the construction cost. "Once they do that, they should never have to allocate any municipal money for dispatch services."

He estimated that the arrangement would save $1 million a year through improved efficiencies in dispatching police, fire and other emergency crews for the county's 37 municipalities.

Finley said the $5 million annual operating cost would increase the county's property tax levy, although he could not provide an estimate. He noted, however, that as dispatch services are shifted away from individual communities, local taxpayers should see a proportionate decline in their municipal property taxes.

As envisioned by the county executive, the new Department of Public Safety also would take over administration of county emergency management, radio services and security in the courthouse and other county facilities. It would be separate from the Sheriff's Department.

If approved by the County Board, the department would begin operation in 2004 and would be in the dispatch center building, to be built on the campus of Waukesha County Technical College in the Village of Pewaukee.

Proposal called `bold move'

County Board Chairman James Dwyer joined Finley in announcing the proposal, which he called a "bold move."

Although he stopped short of predicting board approval, Dwyer said: "If it's a reasonable proposal, we're a very reasonable board."

Some critics of the failed merger with the Lake Area Communications System also attended Wednesday's announcement and expressed support for the plan.

"This is the right way to go," said Sussex Village President Michael Knapp.

Knapp last week accused the county of holding "a gun to our head" to win approval of the previous merger effort.

The county, which already provides emergency dispatch services for 17 communities, sought the merger with LACS as a first step toward what officials hoped would be a countywide consolidation involving all 10 such regional centers.

LACS serves Hartland, Delafield, Chenequa, the City of Pewaukee and Village of Pewaukee.

But the merger began to crumble when some would-be participants became concerned about the cost. Under a formula based on each community's population and property values, some would pay more than $100,000 a year while others would pay as little as $10,000, toward an estimated $1.5 million a year in operating costs.

The Town of Brookfield, City of Pewaukee, North Prairie, Wales and Lisbon all rejected the merger .

Under the new proposal, the county would pay not only the $5 million in annual operating costs but also $2.5 million toward building the dispatch center. The participating communities would share the remaining $2.5 million in building costs based on a formula that has not yet been developed.

Norman Cummings, director of administration for the county, said the formula would not be as complex as the one used in the failed merger attempt.

"Simpler is better, we have learned," he said.

Town of Brookfield Administrator Dick Schultz, who also joined Finley in making the announcement, said he is eager to see the cost breakdown, but he thinks the new concept will be well accepted among town leaders.

"I don't think the Town Board will balk at paying its fair share," he said.

Interest-free loans planned

As with a 1998 consolidation of other radio communication systems, the county will offer communities interest-free loans to help finance their contribution to the new dispatch center.

Saying he expects most municipalities to participate, Finley added that he accelerated plans for a countywide consolidation by one year after realizing that the LACS merger had collapsed.

"We have simply too many communities that have been on hold for too long," he said.

He also said the Sheriff's Department would become a "customer" of the Department of Public Safety for dispatch services.

Sheriff William Kruziki, who did not participate in the announcement, said later Wednesday that he supports consolidated dispatch operations and would examine the county executive's plan.

"I don't have the nitty-gritty details yet," he said. "I'll take a look at it."

Other supporters of the failed LACS merger said they, too, were eager to learn details of the new proposal.

Chenequa Village Manager Robert Douglas said the funding mechanism sounded similar to the arrangement used to fund the 1998 countywide radio system three years ago.

"It's not that bad," he said. "It's absorbable."

Hartland Village Manager Wally Thiel said he could not commit to the new plan, but he would consider any strategy for dispatch consolidation to serve the county's growing population.

"The population density just cries for certain services to be provided on a bigger level," Thiel said. "This, on its face, just makes sense."


As proposed by County Executive Dan Finley, the new Waukesha County Department of Public Safety would start operation in 2004 and would:

-- Oversee countywide emergency dispatch, radio services, emergency management and county security.

-- Be in a new $5 million center built in the Village of Pewaukee.

-- Serve any community willing to share in the cost of constructing the new center.

-- Cost the county $5 million a year in operating costs.

-- Function separately from the Sheriff's Department as a new department reporting directly to the county executive.

Sussex, Lisbon might reopen border deal; Officials start talking with each other about it

Some town officials said they might want to reopen border agreement negotiations with the Village of Sussex

Some town officials said they might want to reopen border agreement negotiations with the Village of Sussex.

The Town Board postponed a closed session scheduled for Monday night to consider whether to reopen the agreement and what issues might be discussed as part of those negotiations.

Town Chairman Michael Reed agreed to confer with town lawyers after a representative of Lake Country Publications objected to the closed session, asserting the notice of the closed meeting did not comply with recent court decisions and the board should not discuss bargaining strategy in a closed session until they determine in a public meeting whether to consider amending the agreement.

Clerk-Administrator Jeff Musche said he scheduled the closed session after he and Reed met with Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski and Village Administrator Evan Teich.

During the meeting, Teich and Lapcinski said they believed that the board agreement should be a "living, breathing document" subject to periodic review, according to Musche.

The communities reached the agreement that defines municipal borders and provides shared sewer services in 2001.

Out-of-court settlement

The agreement is an out-of-court settlement to a lawsuit filed by the town against the village over a dispute involving the boundaries of a subdivision located in the town but being annexed into the village.

In addition to defining borders, the agreement also provides that the Village of Sussex will sell to the Town of Lisbon 900,000 gallons of sewer capacity for future residential and commercial development within the town.

In return, the town agrees to pay $189,000 annually, beginning in 2008, to help the village pay for expansion of the village's sewer treatment capacity, according to Musche.

Over the past several months, town officials have been discussing the possibility of expanding the town sewer service along Highway 164 and Hillside Road.

In addition, town officials have been exploring alternatives to assisting Maple Avenue area residents who claim their private water wells were damaged as a result of blasting from a nearby Halquist Stone Co. quarry.

One of the alternatives town officials are considering would require municipal water service provided by the Village of Sussex.

Water service was a non-negotiable issue during the border agreement discussions in the late 1990s, according to Musche.

"Water was off the table as far as the village was concerned. They told us it would be a deal breaker," said Musche.

However, the membership of both governing bodies of both municipalities, and in some cases the senior staff, has changed since the border agreement was reached.

Musche said he was not sure what issues might be discussed among the communities because he has not discussed with Lisbon officials how they want to proceed on whether to reopen negotiations.

Supervisor Ron Fricke said he opposed new negotiations.

"We gave up too much land last time. We gave up a lot to get the borders closed," he said.

"I want to do all I can to help those 40 homes on Maple Avenue, but I can't see opening up the border agreement. Giving up 1,000 acres of town land for 40 people, no way," he added.

Your Letters 04/08/09

Posted: April 7, 2009

Make Lisbon a village now!

To the editor,

A Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition for Incorporation of the Entire Town of Lisbon as a Village appears in today's Sussex Sun. We will begin collecting signatures April 18. We will carry petitions to public events, beginning with Lisbon's Arbor Day celebration April 25 in Lisbon Community Park.

Recent events relating to land use regulations prompted the people of Lisbon to stand up and take this action at this time. By achieving village status for Lisbon before the end of 2009, the people hope to step out from under new county land use regulations that many think are excessive and unjust. The incorporation petition will be presented by the people for all the people of Lisbon.

At the public hearing March 31 on the Waukesha County Land Use Plan, Lisbon landowners learned how new county regulations and restrictions will affect their property rights. Many learned that the plan takes away private property rights, without compensation, and that many residential properties will be rezoned agricultural, then restricted in how they can be developed.

They learned that local planners (and officials) are required to align Lisbon's comprehensive land use plan, zoning ordinances and maps with the county plan. They also learned that this plan would not apply if their properties were part of a new Village of Lisbon.

For the people of Lisbon, immediate incorporation becomes a pathway to resecuring existing property rights and returning the community to a viable future. Using this pathway, Lisbon landowners hope to step out from under regulations imposed by the Waukesha County Land Use Plan. They hope to secure Lisbon's land boundaries and tax base. They hope to gain autonomy over land use planning.

We, the people of Lisbon, have been involved for decades in bringing Lisbon to its present future. We have stood up for our rights against oppressive laws in the past.

We are standing up now because new county regulations threaten our future. By working together, we think that we can secure village status for all the people of Lisbon before the end of 2009. To reach this goal, we will need help from many residents, town officials and others.

There is much work to be done in a short time. Please stand with us. Sign the petition. Find a way to use your talents to help prepare required documents.

Regardless of where you have stood on incorporation before, please stand with us now. United, we can succeed.

A definite process must be followed. Specific tasks need to be done. We will make our work plan available next Tuesday at Lisbon's 2009 annual town meeting at Hamilton High School.

Please meet us there and stand with us as we prepare a petition from the people to become the Village of Lisbon.

Denise A. Wenger

Wendy Landry

Robert Williams


3 revive Lisbon village quest

Wenger, Landry, Williams will start petition drive


Posted: April 7, 2009

Town of Lisbon – Community activist and Parks Committee Chair Denise Wenger and two former town supervisors, Robert Williams and Wendy Landry, will start a petition drive April 18 to incorporate Lisbon as a village.

A letter signed by all three that appears on today's letters page cites last week's public hearing on the Waukesha County land-use plan for bringing new urgency to their quest.

"Lisbon will have to approve a land-use plan and new zoning ordinances by 2010 under the coercive force of the county," Wenger said in an interview Monday.

More specifically, the county plan requires low-density residential housing and woodland preservation rules that would make development more difficult, she said.

The incorporation process can be lengthy and costly, but Wenger hopes to save $200,000-plus by not hiring an attorney to plead their case.

"Our people know our community better than any attorney can learn about it," she explained.

The Circuit Court will still require a nonrefundable $25,000 filing fee, which Wenger hopes to raise with an optional $3 tax on the town's portion of the property tax bill.

The petitioners have six months from today's public notice (also in today's edition) to file their case with the Circuit Court, including a petition with at least 50 signatures and supporting data "that explains why we're eligible for village status," Wenger said.

Wenger hopes to file their case by July 4, well before the deadline, with many more than the minimum 50 signatures, she added.

Gehrke says not now to Lisbon incorporation

Reed trounced in vote, 3-1

By Kelly Smith

Posted: April 14, 2009

Town of Lisbon – Town Chairman-elect Matt Gehrke says now is probably not the time to try to incorporate Lisbon as a village.

Gehrke agreed in an interview Monday that becoming a village would bring some advantages, but was not sure those advantages would outweigh the costs and risks.

Gehrke said he didn't know how the town would pay for the incorporation effort and would like more assurances that the Waukesha County Circuit Court and state officials would approve incorporation before the town began the effort.

Gehrke said he has heard estimates "of at least $100,000 and some as high as $200,000" for the necessary consultants and to gather the needed evidence and legal arguments to persuade the courts and a state board to grant Lisbon village status.

"The money for incorporation is not in the 2009 budget," he noted.

Two former town supervisors, Robert Williams and Wendy Landry, and former Plan Commissioner Denise Wenger plan to launch a petition drive seeking support for incorporation.

Town Administrator Jeff Musche said that according to state law, such a petition seeking must be initiated by the residents of a municipality, and the circuit court can rule on the petition's validity regardless of whether the municipality's elected officials support incorporation.

Unless the citizens are willing to pay for the effort, however, the incorporation process' expenses would have to be appropriated by the elected officials of the municipality.

Wenger has suggested that a voluntary town tax pay for the effort.

But Gehrke was elected running on a campaign that called for more control over town spending. He was critical of a proposed 12 percent levy by former chairman Michael Reed, some of which would have paid for road improvements.

Gehrke took over the reins of the town government Tuesday morning after crushing Reed's bid for re-election by an almost 3 to 1 margin, taking 1,292 votes to Reed's 457.

He said in an interview last week that he thought he won because he stuck to his campaign message of limiting taxes and providing respectful leadership, but was surprised by the margin of his victory.

Reed said after the election he appreciated the opportunity to serve the community.

He would not comment on whether Reed's recently diagnosed cancer might have affected the election results.

Reed said doctors recently discovered that his previously treated bladder and prostate cancers had returned and required surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Dan Heier won a narrow victory over Plan Commissioner Steve Panten, 700-684, to succeed Gehrke on the Town Board.

Incumbent Supervisors Joe Osterman easily won re-election over former Supervisor Ron Fricke by a more than 2 to 1 margin, 1,047-504.

Three continue Lisbon incorporation drive

By Erin Lamb

Posted: April 15, 2009

Town of Lisbon – Two former town supervisors, Robert Williams and Wendy Landry, and former Plan Commissioner Denise Wenger, are launching a petition drive seeking support to incorporate the town into a village, and trying to rally residents behind the idea.

At the annual town meeting Monday, April 13, Landry and Wenger spoke in support of incorporation, saying that incorporating would secure Lisbon's boundaries and tax bases, as well as gain autonomy over land use and planning and zoning.

But town Plan Commission Secretary Jane Stadler said incorporating would not change the town's land-use and zoning plans.

If the town does incorporate, Stadler doesn't think it would cause a problem with zoning because there is always the ability to change.

Residents will have one of their first opportunities to sign the petition at the town's Arbor Day Celebration on April 25.

The three petitioners already have a number of dates set to circulate the petition for incorporation, and have started a Web site – – that details reasons to incorporate and dates the petition is available to sign. Town of Lisbon residents who are also landowners may sign the petition. They intend to circulate the petition through June 15.

Last month's public hearing on the Waukesha County land-use plan added new urgency to their quest to incorporate. The plan will take away private property rights of Lisbon landowners without compensation, according to Wenger. Residential properties will be rezoned and then be restricted in how they are developed, she said.

Incorporation comes with a hefty price. The state Department of Administration requires a nonrefundable $25,000 filing fee before its Incorporation Review Board will hear the town's case.

In addition, Town Chairman Matt Gerhke has heard estimates as high as $100,000 to $200,000 for the necessary consultants and lawyers and to gather the needed evidence and legal arguments to persuade the Incorporation Review Board to grant Lisbon village status.

Wenger said they hope to raise funds through donations.

Stadler said if the citizens choose to incorporate, it would be wonderful. "I would like to see our borders intact," she said.

Your Letters 04/22/09

Posted: April 21, 2009

Taxes won't fund drive for Lisbon incorporation

To the Editor,

I need to clarify the record on funding for the Petition for Incorporation. Recent news articles reported that I said that taxes would be a possible source for costs related to incorporation.

The truth is that I and other Lisbon residents who initiated this petition never considered asking for tax dollars to pay for filing fees or other costs related to incorporation. We planned to ask residents and businesses in the Town of Lisbon to contribute funds to cover costs of incorporating our community into a village.

The filing fee will be $25,000, but other costs for incorporation have not yet been determined. There might be costs for legal assistance and petition preparation expenses. The petitioners are organizing preparation activities to reduce costs for petition preparation.

Details of preparation plans can be found at: When more is known about costs, details will appear on the Web site.

The first step in the process of incorporation is the signing of the petition. Residents who are landowners in Lisbon (both residents and freeholders) can declare their support by signing the Petition for Incorporation.

The petition will be present at public events and meetings from April 18 to June 15. The first public event where the petition will be available for signing is Saturday, April 25, at Lisbon's Arbor Day Celebration, 10 a.m. to noon, Lisbon Community Park.

There is much work to be done. Many residents have expressed willingness to assist with the preparation of the petition. Others have expressed willingness to help with costs. Fifty signatures are required for the petition filing. The petitioners hope that many more than 50 residents will join with them, first by signing the petition, then by donating time and funding to this effort. Together, we can succeed.

Please log onto the Web site to learn more about this petition effort and where and when your help is needed.

Denise A. Wenger


Editor's reply: Our memory and the notes we recorded of our conversation with Wenger differ from hers, but we are publishing this letter to allow her to clarify her position in her own words.

Pages from the Past 04/22/09

Posted: April 21, 2009

25 years ago - 1984

Lisbon sought incorporation as a city.

Lisbon to debate change to village

Informational meetings planned throughout May

By Kelly Smith

Posted: April 29, 2009

Town of Lisbon – Town citizens and officials will debate whether they want Lisbon to become a village during a series of meetings this month.

A citizens group circulating petitions seeking the town's incorporation plans to hold meetings every Friday night in May except during Memorial Day weekend.

The Town Board has scheduled an informational meeting about incorporation for Tuesday, May 19.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said state officials and other experts will attend the meeting to help educate Town Board members and citizens about the process.

Gehrke has expressed reservations about seeking incorporation in 2009 because of the cost.

He has pointed out that the incorporation process might cost the town between $100,000 and $200,000.

He said the money is not in the budget for this year, and he wants to learn more about whether the benefits are worth the cost.

Former Plan Commissioner Denise Wenger and former Town Board members Robert Williams and Wendy Landry are leading the petition drive.

They argue that Lisbon needs to elevate its government to village status so Waukesha County will not be able to override community land use and zoning decisions.

State laws give the county jurisdiction over land use plans and zoning codes adopted by town governments, but not over villages and cities, which state law considers a higher former of local government.

Wenger has been an outspoken critic of some town land use and zoning regulations because she believes they impose upon individual property rights and have been mandated by the county.

Other officials have pointed out that those same land use plans and regulations could be adopted by a village government.

Wenger said Monday night that the meetings are intended to generate public participation and support for incorporation.

She said town residents need to identify characteristics of the town that are unique and qualify it to become a village.


Concerns over village status

Lisbon incorporation could affect Sussex

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 20, 2009

Town of Lisbon – A key state official is concerned that if the town is permitted to upgrade to village government status, it could result in blocking future efforts by the Village of Sussex to expand its borders.

George Hall of the Wisconsin Department of Administration pointed out Tuesday night that the Village of Sussex would become surrounded – landlocked – by other communities with village government status and would be unable to annex additional lands that it might need to expand its tax base and meet the service needs of it residents.

One of the state-mandated criteria for allowing the town to incorporate as a village is that the upgrade in government status would not adversely affect surrounding municipalities, Hall noted.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said more research is needed on several issues before the Town Board can decide what role – if any – it will play in the efforts to incorporate.

Three former town officials are leading a petition drive to seek permission from the state and the Waukesha County Circuit Court to ask town voters to approve a proposal to become a village.

The group wants the town to become a village so it has the power to make land-use and zoning decisions that are independent of reviews by county officials and vetoes by surrounding communities with city or village status.

Former Town Supervisor Wendy Landry said the group anticipates raising funds necessary to hire lawyers and consultants to persuade the state and circuit court to allow the incorporation effort to proceed to a referendum can be hired.

In addition, the Town Board or the citizens will have pay a $25,000 fee before the state Department of Administration can begin to consider the petition for incorporation.

Gehrke has said he will not support town funding for the effort unless there an assurance that the petition effort is likely to succeed.

The Town Board and about a dozen citizens met for more than two hours Tuesday with Hall and Erich Schmidtke, also of the Department of Administration, regarding what criteria must be met for the town to successfully seek incorporation as a village.

Hall's formal title of policy analyst belies the fact he is recognized statewide as the guru of municipal incorporations. Until 2003, Hall was the one who recommended to state officials and local courts whether a town government's proposal to incorporate into a city or village would be presented to local voters for their approval.

In 2003, the state Legislature created a board that, along with Hall, reviews such proposals. Since its creation, the board and Hall have approved one incorporation by granting village status to the Town of Richfield.

During the meeting, Hall emphasized he was not pre-judging, or speculating, about issues that might affect the town's possible efforts to become a village. However, he said it was likely he would speak to Village of Sussex officials about his concerns.

Town Engineer John Stigler tried to assure Hall that a border agreement between Lisbon and Sussex addresses the possible future growth of the Village of Sussex. Stigler said that when the elected officials of the two communities hammered out the border agreement, they had considered the possibility that Lisbon would seek status as a village.

Stigler said the agreement provides about 1,200 acres in land that the village could annex from the town for future growth needs. He added that the village chose not to exercise the opportunity to annex additional lands when the border agreement was ratified.

Town officials have been concerned that land in the southeast corner of the village – near Quarry Corners – which is nearly isolated from the remainder of the town and the town's irregular borders with the village could become issues that might block the incorporation effort.

Hall suggested that while those issues are "unique" and would have to be addressed by the town to the incorporation review board, he did not think they were insurmountable.


Neighbors won't oppose Lisbon incorporation


Posted: June 2, 2009

Whatever roadblocks supporters of Lisbon's incorporation as a village might find in their way, opposition from their neighbors won't be among them.

Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski said he didn't think Lisbon's incorporation would have "any effect on Sussex in any way."

George Hall and Erich Schmidtke of the Wisconsin Department of Administration told Lisbon officials and incorporation supporters at a two-hour meeting May 19 that the department, which oversees the incorporation process, would look at whether incorporation would leave Sussex "landlocked" – unable to expand beyond its current borders to expand its tax base and service its residents.

"We're landlocked already," Lapcinski said in an interview last week.

He pointed out that the border agreement between the two communities allows Sussex to expand into land now part of Lisbon (about 1,200 acres, according to Lisbon Town Engineer John Stigler), "so we're landlocked regardless of where the borders are ultimately fixed."

The boundary agreement requires Sussex and Lisbon to abide by its provisions regardless of any change in Lisbon's status. It also forbids the village from opposing any efforts by the town to make Lisbon a village or a city.

Lisbon has a similar border agreement with the Village of Merton, and Lisbon's other neighbors – Menomonee Falls, the two Pewaukees and Hartland – have not indicated any interest in annexing town land or opposing any change in Lisbon's status.

Menomonee Falls Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said he expected the committee to be up and running and all issues between the town and village resolved long before Lisbon's incorporation quest is settled.

"From our experience with Richfield," he added, "incorporation is a long and arduous process." (Richfield lies across Menomonee Falls' and Waukesha County's northern border.)

He noted that Menomonee Falls did not object to the incorporation of Richfield as a village and he did not "foresee any objections" to Lisbon's incorporation either.

"Our intention is to work cooperatively with Lisbon officials," he said in an interview last week. "We have no intention to expand our borders."

The citizen effort to incorporate Lisbon might face more hurdles from the impact of current economic conditions on the town than from any external objections.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke has said he will not support town funding for the effort unless he can be assured that the petition effort is likely to succeed.

He also said at the May 19 meeting that more research is needed on several issues before the Town Board can decide what role – if any – it will play in the efforts to incorporate.

The group organizing the incorporation drive – led by Denise Wenger and former supervisors Wendy Landry and Bob Williams – wants the town to have the power to make land-use and zoning decisions on its own without requiring approval by the county or neighboring villages.

Williams said in an interview last week that Lisbon could more easily encourage economic development as a village because incorporated municipalities have the authority to create TIF districts and towns to do not. He said the Village of Lisbon could expand its tax base, lightening the tax burden on homeowners, with industrial parks that included "light industry and business offices – like Sussex has done."

Landry said the group plans to raise the funds necessary – perhaps as much as $300,000 – to hire lawyers and consultants to persuade the state and circuit court to allow the incorporation effort to proceed to a referendum and to pay the Department of Administration's $25,000 filing fee.

Some of the benefits of village status might be more psychological than material. Once Lisbon incorporates, Williams said, "Our neighbors' attitudes would change. We wouldn't be the ugly stepchild anymore."

Staff writer Kelly Smith contributed to this report.


Village status won't bring more road aid

Posted: June 2, 2009

One of the benefits of city or village status claimed by supporters of the effort to incorporate Lisbon as a village is increased state aid for road repair, maintenance and reconstruction.

That claim is "totally false," said Wisconsin Department of Transportation official Lori Richter.

A general transportation aids program manager and local program state unit leader who manges state-funded programs for local governments, Richter said the aid formula is "exactly the same" for incorporated cities and villages as it is for unincorporated towns.

The formula is based on either a dollar amount per mile of road or a percentage of average local spending on roads over the last six years, whichever is higher.

-Peter Abbott

--- to meet tomorrow

Posted: June 9, 2009, the citizens group advocating the incorporation of Lisbon into a village, is sponsoring an informational meeting from 7 to 9 tomorrow night at the Richard Jung Fire Station at Highways K and KF.

Denise Wenger, one of the group's original organizers, said the meeting will try to educate citizens about the benefits of incorporation and the process that must be followed to petition state officials and the Waukesha County Circuit Court to grant Lisbon status as a village.

She said a portion of the meeting will also discuss whether to create an Economic Development Council to assist in the development of the town's economic profile.

"Most of the meeting will be devoted to incorporation," she said, "but near the end of the meeting we will also discuss the creation of an economic development council. We already have development in the Town. What we have to learn is how to make sure that it will always be high quality development."

The town's authority over its land use and zoning regulations now depends on the approval of Waukesha County and bordering villages.

Proponents of incorporation have argued that one of its biggest advantages is the autonomy Lisbon would gain over those decisions.


New debate over Lisbon incorporation as village

By Kelly Smith

Posted: June 15, 2009

Town of Lisbon — The campaign to upgrade Lisbon's form of government from a town to a village is stirring up new debate over proposed changes in land-use and zoning standards.

One citizen activist said she intends to use the campaign as a tool to defeat the proposed changes.

Denise Wenger said the Town Board and Plan Commission should wait until the process of changing the town's form of government is completed before adopting new zoning policies.

But Town Chairman Matt Gehrke disagreed.

He said incorporation - the process of changing the form of government - and adopting new zoning and land-use standards are unrelated issues.

"The Town Board is not involved in incorporation. It is being supported by a group of citizens, and I wish them all of the luck in the world," he said.

But, Gehrke added, the town has been working on a new zoning code for three years and should proceed with adopting it this year, if possible.

"We do not know what the outcome of incorporation will be," he added.

The petition to incorporate as a village must be approved by the state and the Waukesha County Circuit Court and then would be subject to a referendum.

Supporters of the petition will have to find a way to raise $25,000 to pay for the filing fee.

Wenger said the court and state officials will make their determination about the petition based partly on the existing land-use plan and zoning code.

She argued that the proposed new code is inconsistent with the existing code.

She said the zoning for almost all residential property owners would be changed by the new code.

She also said the new code will make it more difficult for farmers and other owners of large parcels of land to develop and subdivide their property.

In addition, she argued there are unfair and unnecessary environmental standards in the new code that are imposed on the town by county government.

If the town became a village, it could adopt new zoning and land-use standards that were not subject to review and approval by Waukesha County officials, she added.

Gehrke rebutted that proposed code changes are not as sweeping as Wenger suggested.

Most of the changes, he asserted, involved technical descriptions and titles of zoning districts.

He acknowledged that the county has jurisdiction over town zoning and land-use standards, but he said town and county officials worked together in developing the proposals.

He said some of the standards imposed by the county could be included in a new village zoning code.

Gehrke and Wenger acknowledged that they did not know whether state law would permit the town to change its zoning and land-use standards while the incorporation was pending.


Your Letters 06/24/09

Posted: June 23, 2009

Don't turn Lisbon into a village

To the editor,

In response to your articles on incorporating Lisbon as a village:

While it does matter in regards to border agreements, etc., and what other communities that surround the Town of Lisbon responsibly say, the basic issue lies with the town remaining as a town or consideration of incorporation or other alternatives.

I basically would ask that town residents take a serious look at a report done in 2007 by the Vision Committee. Please note that the committee was made up of a cross section of Lisbon residents, and that over 28.9 percent of residents surveyed responded. Basically, 33 percent of residents supported incorporation but 34 percent supported an alternative: boundary agreements.

Other options were also offered and the response to them can be found in the Vierbicher Associates report online at

While boundary agreements take time, they are workable and can protect both Lisbon and surrounding communities zoning codes and ordinances. Further recent changes to the Town of Lisbon Land Use Plan are not infringements of property owners' rights. Numerous discussions at all levels of town government have more than addressed these issues and concerns.

All residents of the Town of Lisbon need to be aware of what issues are involved with incorporation or any move in whatever direction town residents desire to take. For example: Which form of government maintains or improves our infrastructure, our safety, government access and accountability - and at what cost? If we incorporate, will our residents want more or demand more of government?

These issues deserve thoughtful discussion. For my part, I like the Town of Lisbon for what we offer and provide and for our quality of life.

Again, all residents need to educate themselves on what changes would occur and what it would cost should we decide to incorporate as a village. I personally like the form of government we have and would suggest that it be continued.

E. Nelson



Pages from the Past 07/01/09

Posted: June 30, 2009

5 years ago - 2004

Lisbon officials back off their "town center" idea, but not their drive to incorporate Lisbon as a village.


Lisbon says it won't fund incorporation

Decision means citizens group is on its own

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Sept. 23, 2009

Town of Lisbon — Municipal budget workshops are often as much about establishing policy as they are matching anticipated revenues with expected expenses, and Monday night the Town Board might have made a key policy decision about plans to seek village status for the town.

Without a formal vote, there was an apparent consensus among four of the five board members that they would not support committing any town funds in 2010 to the effort to persuade state officials to upgrade the community's municipal status from town to village.

However, a spokeswoman for the citizens group that wants to see the town incorporated as a village said the group will continue with its campaign, despite the lack of town funds, and will soon file petitions with for Waukesha County Circuit Court and state officials to begin the process.

Denise Winger of said she had no comment about the Town Board's action but said there will be an announcement soon about the petition filing.

The group will have to raise $25,000 to pay for the filing fee required by the state to have the application for incorporation considered. Proponents of incorporation say village status will enable the community to make land-use decisions that would be independent of reviews by Waukesha County officials and would protect the community's boundaries against annexation by surrounding cities and villages.

However, the cost of presenting the case for incorporation to a state-appointed board and gaining court approval can be expensive. Village of Richfield officials said they spent about $100,000 in their successful effort to upgrade from a town to a village.

Organizers of Lisbon-inc. org have said they might be able to get the job done for less cost, and they seek community support in raising the money.

Gehrke suggested the board set aside an estimated $10,000 to $20,000 to help the incorporation effort but could not gain the support of his fellow board members.

Gehrke said the citizens group was responsible for raising the $25,000 to file the petitions. He said the town might want to consider contributing to the cost of developing a presentation for the incorporation if the town had some assurance the state would approve the incorporation.

Supervisor Ron Esser scolded Gehrke for raising the issue after board members decided during the workshop to slash capital budget requests for money for a firetruck and lawnmowers for the Parks Department.

"Why didn't you bring this up before we were talking about the Fire Department and Parks Department budget?" Esser said.

"We don't have the money to buy a firetruck, we don't have the money to buy a lawnmower for the parks. We don't have the money," said Supervisor Dan Fischer.


Residents file for Lisbon's incorporation

Posted: Oct. 2, 2009

Residents of the Town of Lisbon filed a petition in Waukesha County Circuit Court this morning to incorporate the town as a village, according to a press release from Denis Wenger, one of the organizers of the grassroots incorporation movement.

"Residents of the Town of Lisbon have been planning for incorporation for 60 years," Wenger maintained in the statement. "In 1949, town residents authorized their town board to exercise 'village powers' by engaging in comprehensive planning, writing zoning ordinances and establishing a plan commission to oversee land-use planning and development ... During these decades, the Town of Lisbon has developed a full complement of services normally associated with village or city status, so petitioners expect the transition from town to village government to be a smooth, cost-effective process that will produce many benefits for residents and surrounding municipalities."

Wendy Landry, a town resident and former supervisor who helped circulate a petition for incorporation, said "The town alrady provides all the services to its citizens that the village will be required to provide. Our existing government has a tangible investment in the town and this will not change when we become a village. This change in government also will not require the laying off of any personnel."

Bob Williams, another former supervisor, also helped circulate the petitions. "Incorporation will make it possible for the town government to maintain the quality of life that our citizens have mandated in all of the recent surveys and focus groups," he said.

"The three of us circulated this petition to help Lisbon regain autonomy over land use and property rights, solidify its tax base and restore local control over its local affairs," Wenger said. "We filed this petition from the people on behalf of all the people of the Town of Lisbon.

"This people comes from the people of Lisbon, not from the Town board."

She noted that the group must raise $25,000 to cover fees required by the Incorporation Review Board but not budgeted for by the town. Fundraising would begin after the court rules on the petition, which could take 30 to 60 days, she said.

More information about the incorporation effort is available at


Incorporation funding urged

Group to ask Town Board to reverse previous denial

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Oct. 6, 2009

Town of Lisbon — One of the leaders of an effort to upgrade Lisbon from a town to a village is going to ask the Town Board to reverse an earlier decision and provide some public funding for the incorporation campaign.

But it does not appear likely she is going to get much support. Town Chairman Matt Gehrke, who two weeks ago suggested the Town Board borrow some money for the project, said he does not believe a majority of the five-member board is willing to reverse its unanimous decision on Sept. 21 not to provide public funding for the incorporation process.

Denise Wenger said the citizen's group,, is willing to raise the necessary $25,000 to file a petition seeking status as a village. But, she said the Town Board should provide funds necessary to present the case for becoming a village to a state board.

The group filed petitions for incorporation to the Waukesha County Circuit on Oct. 2. Wenger said the court will review the petition to make sure it is in compliance with state law and then forward it to the Incorporation Review Board for public hearings and a decision whether to recommend incorporation.

If the review board approves the petition, the incorporation of the town into a village would be subject to voter approval in a referendum.

Villages have broader powers and responsibilities than towns including the ability to create local land use plans and zoning ordinances that are not subject to review by county authorities.

Wenger has argued that the town has been required to adopt land use and zoning regulations that violate individual property rights in order to receive favorable review from the county of the town's proposed land use and zoning code changes.

Former Town Supervisor Wendy Landry, another leader in the incorporation movement, says the town already provides most of the services of a village and additional services would not be needed if the town became a village.

The Village of Richfield, in Washington County, spent between $100,000 and $125,000, according to local officials, for its successful effort more than a year ago to win state approval of incorporation from a town to a village.

Wenger said the Town of Lisbon should share in some of the costs of the incorporation effort because issues in the hearing are likely to require the involvement of town officials and the town lawyer, even though the petition was filed by a citizens group.

Wenger warned it would be "inconsistent" for town supervisors to endorse incorporation but oppose town funding and she predicted funding for incorporation could become an issue in next year's municipal elections.

Gehrke, along with Supervisor Joe Osterman, said they supported the efforts of the citizens group and wished them luck with the circuit court and the incorporation review board.

Gehrke said town board members are insisting that any increase in the tax levy not exceed five percent and any borrowing in 2010 be restricted to $550,000.

He said if additional money was borrowed for the incorporation process, funds would have to be cut from the proposed $300,000 for highway repairs or some other capital project would have to be eliminated.

Osterman said he might be willing to support some public funds for incorporation, if he thought there was a good chance that the town's petition would be approved.

However, Osterman said incorporation petition's regulations require there be at least a 20 percent portion of the property within the town likely to be developed within the next three years. Osterman said because of the national economic recession, it was unlikely the required economic development would occur.

But Winger rebuts that a majority of residents in the town are concerned about individual property rights and the best way to protect property rights would be for the town to become a village.

She said the group plans both fundraising events and private solicitations to raise the $25,000 filing fee.

She said the group will focus on local businesses because incorporation will save significant money for local businesses.

Incorporation will reduce regulatory costs because businesses will not to petition both the county and the town for land use and business permit changes. In addition, incorporation will help protect the community's tax base and future growth will can result in lower real estate taxes on businesses and individuals, she said.

For your info

To read more about the Political Action Committee seeking Lisbon's incorporation, log on to their Web site," target="_blank">

The next meeting is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 at Richard Jung Fire Station, Highway K and Richmond Road.


Not the time for incorporation

Posted: Oct. 13, 2009

For decades, Lisbon has yearned to solidify its borders and have a greater say in the development of the community.

Recently, a group of citizens has stepped forward with a petition to say, enough with the talk, enough with the studies, enough with being bullied. Let's get our sovereignty back and incorporate.

Of course, none of this is new. The tug of water between Sussex and Lisbon has gone on for years. One motivating factor behind starting a fire department years ago was to shore up efforts for Lisbon to become a village or a city. Lisbon has long sought, if not freedom, at least an equal say in the destiny of the community.

Town of Richfield spent more than $100,000 in its recent successful effort to become incorporated. And in some ways it looks awful tempting to spend that one-time sum for a chance to seal your borders forever and put an end to the feuding that has been so prevalent for Richfield's neighbors to the south.

But timing is everything. Budgets are tighter than ever. State aid has been cut for the town and the outlook for the future looks bleak.

Lisbon's efforts to seek incorporation face far stiffer challenges than Richfield in key areas. One is the potential for growth. With the economy being soft, Lisbon's growth potential and thus its ability to become and sustain being a municipality, are restricted. Another area is that Lisbon would have to define a cultural identity that is distinct from Sussex, and for many years the gray shaded interpretation of this state requirement often meant having a definable commercial district or downtown. Lisbon's geography as the doughnut around Sussex is something Richfield never had to consider. And that means opposition from Sussex to a Lisbon incorporation is possible.

When times are good, gambles look at a lot more tempting. When times are challenging, you'd like to have something closer to a sure bet before you wager six figures of taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, for Lisbon, the timing on this recent venture could not be much worse.


Summit inches closer to incorporation

Posted: Oct. 19, 2009

The Town of Summit has taken another step toward incorporation as a village, with state approval of border agreements between the town and five neighboring municipalities.

The agreements would freeze Summit's borders with the Towns of Delafield, Oconomowoc and Ottawa and the Villages of Dousman and Oconomowoc Lake, with two exceptions.

An island of about 25 Summit properties surrounded by the Town of Oconomowoc would become part of the Town of Oconomowoc by about Jan. 1. The agreements would also allow the annexation of about 250 acres along Highway 67 to the Village of Dousman for commercial and business use as well as about 50 mostly single-family properties adjacent to the village.

Under the border agreements, Summit also agrees not to annex property from the bordering towns if it becomes a village, and the other municipalities agree not to contest the town's incorporation bid.

Summit forwarded documents and its $25,000 application fee to the state Incorporation Review Board last month. The state Department of Administration approved the agreements earlier this month. The state now has 180 days to seek public input and come to a decision. State approval would clear the way for the town to hold a referendum on incorporation. If voters approved that measure, the next move would be to hold an election for village officers.

Summit isn't the only local municipality seeking incorporation. Earlier this month, residents in the Town of Lisbon filed a petition in Waukesha County Circuit Court seeking to incorporate the town as a village.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


County: Town must adopt zoning

Lisbon zoning code vote delayed until next year

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Nov. 3, 2009

Town of Lisbon — A senior Waukesha County planner told about two dozen citizens last week that the Town Board has no choice but to adopt a controversial zoning district imposed by county officials if the town wants to permit Planned Unit Developments (PUD).

The Upland Corridor District is included in a new zoning code that was the subject of a nearly two-hour public hearing last week at Town Hall, most of it devoted to debate over whether the proposed code was too restrictive and violated individual property rights.

Senior Planner Sandy Scherer told the hearing that the town must incorporate the district into the new code in order to receive Waukesha County's approval of Planned Unit Developments.

Some Lake Country communities like Lisbon consider PUDs an essential planning tool because it enables municipal officials and developers to engage in negotiations that permit developers to build more commercial or residential units than zoning permits in exchange for added amenities such as open spaces, public works projects, and other improvements that benefit the municipality.

But, former plan commissioner Denise Wenger argued the Upland Corridor District places too many restrictions on how a property owner may use the land and the owner's ability to sell the land for future development. Wenger lives in an Upland Corridor District.

Wenger suggested the county's imposition of the Upland Corridor District was an example of why the town should seek status as a village so the county would not have the power to review and veto town land use and zoning decisions.

She encouraged the town board "not to submit to regulations imposed by an outside government agency that (Village of Lisbon) trustees might regret afterward."

Plan Commissioner Ed Nelson also lives in an Upland Corridor District. He pointed out the purpose of the district is to preserve, protect and enhance environmentally sensitive areas, wildlife habitat, woodlands, wetlands and other natural resources.

He argued that anyone who chooses to live in the district also has a responsibility to be a steward of the land and natural resources. He added that the regulations are in the existing code.

Rather than infringing on property rights, Nelson asserted the proposed code helps protect property rights because it establishes community land use or zoning standards that help preserve property values.

Former Town Supervisor Robert Williams, who along with Wenger is one of the leaders of the movement to incorporate the town into a village, urged the Town Board to delay adopting the new code until state officials make a decision regarding a citizens' group petition to allow incorporation of the town.

The proposed code could be adopted without review of Waukesha County zoning officials if the state permitted the town to become a village.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said the Town Board probably would not vote on the proposed code until January.

Town officials have to reach an agreement with Village of Menomonee Falls officials regarding some of the proposed zoning on town lands that border the two communities, he said.

Gehrke and the town's five supervisors have so far declined to approve the funds necessary to pursue incorporation or endorse the incorporation petition that the citizens group has filed with the state officials and the Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Williams criticized town officials for failing to warn citizens that virtually every property owner in the town is impacted by the proposed zoning changes.

He accused town officials finding "a loophole in the system" and intending to jam the code "up our tushes."

But Gehrke and Jane Stadler, who chaired the committee that rewrote the code, rebutted that in most instances the zoning code revisions change only the titles of zoning districts, not the criteria or permitted uses of the district.

Stadler explained that the zoning code is intended to implement the land use plan adopted in 2004.

Both the land use plan and the code are intended to reflect the present use of the land and are intended to help protect the rural residential character of the town, according to the town officials.

Gehrke said the new code would change from residential to agricultural the zoning designation of farm and open space lands that are presently used for agricultural purposes.

But some farmers and developers have objected to the change arguing that it makes it more difficult to develop farm land because before the land can be developed both the town and Waukesha County must approve land use and zoning changes.

Fast facts

→ A Waukesha County planner said Lisbon must a zoning code to permit further development.

→ Many argue the code violates property owner's rights.

→ Town Board will probably not vote on the controversial code until January.



Posted: Dec. 29, 2009

Top stories

• Citizen's group,, asked Town officials to help fund a petition to incorporate Lisbon as a Village. The town board chose not to support funding for Lisbon's incorporation effort given an already tight budget and said it would have to cut fund for things like planned highway projects if it borrowed more money.

Continued on Lisbon Incorporation Efforts - Page 2

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