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History - Local - Government - Lisbon Incorporation Efforts - Page 1 > Lisbon - Incorporation Efforts - Page 2, Page 3 - Town of Lisbon Consolidation/Merging Discussions

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 continue here beginning in 2010


Retrospect 01/13/10

Posted: Jan. 12, 2010

Since the start of the homesteading of Sussex and Lisbon in 1836 there has been a steady progression in the population figures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, these are estimates for the population of Sussex, Lisbon and the adjacent Villages of Merton and Lannon as of August 2008: Sussex 10,048, Lisbon 9,981, Merton 2,973 and Lannon 1,130. Total count for Sussex and Lisbon was 20,029 and the total for Sussex, Lisbon, Lannon and Merton was 24,132.

The following are more historic population counts for Lisbon and Sussex following the first settlers in 1836. The first citizen was Thomas S. Redford who put in a claim for 160 acres on May 15, 1836.

Lisbon population in 1838: 84

1840 (U.S. Census): 116

1846: 836

1850: 1,036

1860: 1,358

1870: 1,384

1880: 1,453

1890: 1,443

1900: 1,510

1910: 1,580

1920: 1,540

1924: Sussex incorporates as a village separating from the Town of Lisbon with a population of 387

1930: Lisbon 1,104, Sussex 496

1940: Lisbon 1,158, Sussex 548

1950: Lisbon 1,532, Sussex 679

1960: Lisbon 2,885, Sussex 1,087

1970: Lisbon 4,709, Sussex 2,758

1980: Lisbon 8,443, Sussex 3,403

1990: Lisbon 8,277, Sussex 5, 039

2000: Lisbon 9,306, Sussex 8,881

2008: Lisbon 9,981, Sussex 10,048

A historic tidbit is that around 1923-24, there was a head count in the old Templeton and four corners of Sussex. Templeton had an estimated 200 people for canning season, but only 98 were true residents. Meanwhile, the old four corners of Sussex (Maple and Main) had 299 estimated. Both combined into the Village of Sussex in September of 1924.

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Retrospect

Sussex-Lisbon-Lannon, 30 years ago Photos from the collection of Sussex Village Historian Fred H. Keller

Posted: Jan. 19, 2010

What happened 30 years ago was a generation ago.Lisbon already had its big population explosion back then, as it went from the U.S. Census of 1970 count of 4,709 to 8,443 in 1980. Meanwhile, Sussex was still under the big growth, as 1970 saw their population at 2,758, and only a modest growth to 3,403 by the 1980 census. Both are around 10,000 now, with Sussex slightly higher.

A community study suggested that there be a joint library between Sussex and Lisbon. However, at the annual Lisbon town meeting, it was resoundingly voted down by Lisbon electors.

Meanwhile, Lisbon was opting to try to incorporate as a fourth-class city, and ultimately failed to achieve it.

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Court schedules Lisbon meeting

Posted: March 15, 2010

Town of Lisbon — A scheduling conference is planned for 11:30 a.m. March 23 in Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph M. Ramirez's office for school districts and local governments that would be impacted by the proposed incorporation of the Town of Lisbon to a village.

Wendy Landry, one of the leaders in the incorporation movement in the town, said the purpose of the state-required meeting is to give representatives of all of the school districts and local government bodies an opportunity to agree on a date for a later hearing.

The purpose of that later hearing would be to allow the school districts and local government units to attend a court hearing for public comment on the petition to incorporate.

Incorporation would upgrade the Lisbon community from a town government to a village government. Village governments have more autonomy particularly pertaining to land use and zoning issues than town governments which must have local land use and zoning codes approved by the county. Most importantly, a border agreement would be made between Lisbon and its neighboring municipalities that would prohibit annexation of Lisbon lands by other communities.

Usually, surrounding municipalities and school districts need to either support or take no position in the incorporation petition for it to be approved by the courts and appropriate state government authorities.

The notice was sent to the villages of Sussex, Menomonee Falls, Lannon, Richfield, Hartland and Pewaukee, as well as the City of Pewaukee, and the towns of Merton, Delafield and Brookfield. A portion of the boundary of each of those local government units touches the boundary of the town.

The school districts of Merton, Hamilton, Richmond and Arrowhead also received the meeting notice.

The citizens group promoting incorporation will have to raise $25,000 for a fee to file the petition. For more information, visit Lisbon-Inc.org.

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Fischer, Swift differ on key Lisbon issues

By Kelly Smith

Posted: March 16, 2010

Town of Lisbon — Incumbent Supervisor Dan Fischer and his challenger in the April 6 municipal election, William "Bill" Swift , have different opinions about the most important issues facing town government.

Both were asked in a Lake Country Publications questionnaire to identify the three most important issues facing the town, other than keeping taxes as low as possible and possibly upgrade the local government structure from a town to a village.

Fischer listed reducing the town's long-term debt, increasing road repairs and other infrastructure improvements and "protecting what makes Lisbon unique: large lots, open spaces and our natural environment."

Swift said Lisbon "need(s) commercial and industrial development, (should) maintain (the) high level of our schools, and being a good neighbor to surrounding communities (is also important)."

The Town Board has no jurisdiction over the quality of schools in the community.

The candidates were also asked how they would use the approximately $180,000 surplus from the 2009 budget.

"For repairing roads and other purposes as needed," replied Swift.

Fischer responded, "I feel it is important to reduce the amount of debt the town is carrying. Presently about 33 percent of our budget goes to debt repayment. However, if - due to the current recession - asphalt prices are low, then much-needed road work should be done now rather than later."

The candidates were also asked whether they supported using town funds to help pay for incorporation, the effort to upgrade the local government structure from a town to a village.

"Before allocating any taxpayers' funds, a careful assessment should be done on our chances of success and the impact it would have on our taxes. We have much greater needs for spending taxpayers' dollars," Fischer said.

"I feel that at this time Lisbon has little chance of meeting the stringent requirements" to become a village, Fischer added.

Swift said he thought the town should incorporate as a village "to save our tax base" but did not respond to whether taxpayers' funds should be used in the effort.

Fischer was elected in 2008 when he defeated incumbent Supervisor Ron Fricke in a campaign in which Fischer won the support of former Town Chairman Michael Reed. Reed had urged the defeat of both Fricke and Supervisor Bob Williams who lost to Ron Esser.

Esser was defeated in his re-election bid in the February primary when he finished behind Ryan Lippert and Steve Panten, who are facing each other in the April 6 election.

Swift lost a bid for town office in the February 2008 primary election and led an abortive attempt to recall Reed, partially for Reed's role in abolishing the town Police Department and replacing it with contractual police services from the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

Dan Fischer (I)

Age: 51

Occupation: electronic digital prepress operator

Number of years in community: 20

Education background: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, BA Business Administration

Family background: Wife Karen, daughter 18, son 15

Other public offices: Lisbon Plan Commission, Lisbon Park Committee

William "Bill" Swift

Age: 68

Occupation: retired iron worker

Number of years in community: 5

Educational background: GED

Family background: Eight children ranging in ages 51-34

Other pubic offices: Village of Germantown Fair Housing and Ethics Committee

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Riffle ruffles Lisbon feathers

Lisbon unhappy about lawyer's role in hearing

By Kelly Smith

Posted: March 30, 2010

Town of Lisbon — Chairman Matt Gehrke was choosing his words carefully when he said he was "disappointed" in the role an attorney for the Village of Sussex played at a hearing in Waukesha County Circuit Court last week regarding a citizens group's petition to incorporate the town into a village.

Attorney Stanley Riffle - who has helped several municipalities through the incorporation process - raised enough questions about the petition submitted by Lisbon-Inc.org that Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph M. Ramirez schedule an additional hearing for 8:30 a.m. today.

Riffle later emphasized that the village board has not taken a position on the incorporation petition submitted by the citizen's group and that he raised questions at the hearing because the petition failed to meet some of the qualifications required by state law.

Former Town Supervisor Robert Williams, one of the founder's of Lisbon-Inc. org, said some of the questions raised by Riffle were resolved during last week's hearing and he expects the remaining questions will be resolved at today's hearing.

Gehrke attended the hearing and, in a later interview, said, "I want to be careful about what I say. But, I am disappointed in what happened at the hearing."

He added that he had been relying on comments Village President Tony Lapcinski made to the Sussex Sun last summer indicating the Village would not object to the town's petition to become a village.

Gehrke also noted that in a border agreement between the two communities the Village of Sussex said it would not object to the town's incorporation petition.

Gehrke admitted he expressed his displeasure to the village staff in stronger words after the hearing. But he ducked an opportunity to publicly be more specific about his anger, "I think I have said enough," he said.

For the past three years, elected officials from both communities have been saying - at least publically - that they are trying to improve the often strained relations between the two local governments. But, this latest episode has left some of Gehrke's colleagues on the board unhappy.

"They have continually talked about wanting to be a good neighbor. Well, what they did is not being a good neighbor," said Supervisor Joe Osterman who said he was going to send the village a letter protesting Riffle's involvement in the hearing.

Osterman has served on a joint committee involving both municipalities and served as a volunteer on a Bug Line Recreational Trail clean up project in the village.

Assistant Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said the Village Board told the staff to have Riffle accompany them when they attended the hearing.

"There were about 15 deficiencies in the petition. When the court did not bring up some of them, he (Riffle) did," Smith said.

Village President Lapcinski said in a June interview with the Sussex Sun that Lisbon becoming a village would not have "any effect on Sussex in any way."

He noted that the Lisbon-Sussex borders were defined by a border agreement between the two communities that would not changed if Lisbon became a village.

Smith had "no comment" when asked if the Village of Sussex had changed its position regarding Lisbon incorporation.

"I cannot comment on it because the village board hasn't taken a position," Smith said.

Riffle added that Lapcinski's comments and the border agreement addressed the Town of Lisbon submitting an incorporation petition to the state, not a private citizens group.

The Town Board has declined to endorse the petition effort or contribute any money to it. Some supervisors have said they are sympathetic to the citizens' efforts but are not willing to invest public funds in the $25,000 filing fee for the petition. Other board members have said they will not provide any financial support unless they are convinced the petition has a good chance of being approved by local courts and state officials before being submitted to voters for approval.


On the summit of village status

Town could be incorporated by fall

By Paige Smaga

Posted: March 31, 2010

Town of Summit — The Town could be functioning as a village before the end of the year if voters approve an incorporation referendum sometime in the coming months.

The state Department of Administration approved Summit's incorporation petition Monday, recommending Judge Kathryn Foster set a date for a incorporation referendum.

Town Administrator-Planner Henry Elling said the referendum will likely be scheduled in June. If the referendum passes, a second election would be planned to coincide with the September state primary election to elect a village government.

"This would allow the village board to do the budget for the next year," explained Elling, who said he had been questioning whether it would be ideal to have the village board take over a budget that was adopted by the former board.

For the referendum to pass, the town needs one more vote than half, Elling said. He said the judge is expected to set the referendum date sometime next week. However, an amended Town Board agenda sent Tuesday afternoon has an item on discussion on action to include a resolution to combine wards for a June 15, 2010, referendum election.

As Summit nearly completes its quest for incorporation, two other Waukesha County municipalities - Okauchee and the Town of Lisbon - have begun the process.

Town Attorney Stan Riffle, who has provided Summit legal counsel through the process, said he could not comment on Summit being an example to the new pursuits.

"Every single town or portion of a town that seeks incorporation is completely unique. One has nothing to do with another precedent set by one town seeking incorporation, and it has no impact on any other town seeking incorporation," Riffle said. "Each must stand on its own merits and meet all the very particular criteria."

Okauchee incorporation

Okauchee resident and incorporation facilitator Terry Brandl said the group has been spending the last several months "getting smart on the process," and gaining a better understanding of what other communities went through in their own incorporation efforts.

One of the most recent developments in the effort is the creation of the Okauchee Lake Area Incorporation Web site, okaucheeinc.com. The site is a bevy of incorporation information, from explaining state statues to showing a map of the proposed boundaries.

The proposed Village of Okauchee would be bordered by Highway 16 to the south and Peterson Road to the north, Highway C to the east and a jig-jag border along the west that includes the Oconomowoc Country Club and Ashippun Lake, but juts in around Highway Z.

Town of Oconomowoc officials have frowned on the fact that the rest of the town is not included in the effort. Okauchee is an uninicorporated community in the Town of Oconomowoc. Officials have said the town would be difficult to sustain with the loss of the Okauchee tax base. However, Brandl said the state would not approve the petition if the incorporation would harm the remaining town.

The biggest challenge ahead for the group of about 25 Okauchee stakeholders seeking incorporation could be the $25,000 application fee.

Lisbon incorporation

Lisbon residents might feel frustration after Riffle accompanied the Village of Sussex to a March 23 scheduling conference with Waukesha County Court Judge Ralph Ramirez for school districts and governments that would affected by Lisbon's proposed incorporation.

Riffle raised enough questions about the petition submitted by Lisbon-Inc.org that Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph M. Ramirez scheduled an additional hearing for Wednesday.

Riffle later emphasized that the Sussex Village Board has not taken a position on the incorporation petition submitted by the citizens group and that he raised questions at the hearing because the petition failed to meet some of the qualifications required by state law.

Lisbon leaders said they were disappointed in Sussex bringing Riffle to the conference. They said Sussex officials had previously said they would not oppose incorporation efforts and would "be a good neighbor" through the process.

"They have continually talked about wanting to be a good neighbor. Well, what they did is not being a good neighbor," said Lisbon Supervisor Joe Osterma,n who said he would send the village a letter protesting Riffle's involvement in the hearing.

The Lisbon Town Board has declined to endorse the petition effort or contribute any money to it. Some supervisors have said they are sympathetic to the citizens' efforts but are not willing to invest public funds in the $25,000 filing fee for the petition. Other board members have said they will not provide any financial support unless they are convinced the petition has a good chance of being approved by local courts and state officials before being submitted to voters for approval.

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Judge dismisses Lisbon incorporation petition

Posted: March 31, 2010

A petition seeking to incorporate the Town of Lisbon as a village has been dismissed, under a ruling this morning by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez.

In his ruling, Ramirez noted he was not taking a position on the incorporation itself, but rather was dismissing the petition because of technical deficiencies.

The Village of Sussex had filed a motion yesterday seeking the action.

Bob Williams and Wendy Landry, who have been instrumental in the grassroots incorporation effort, said they plan to submit a new petition within a couple weeks.

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Back to drawing board for Lisbon

Judge dismisses village bid; new effort under way soon

By Kelly Smith

Posted: March 31, 2010

Town of Lisbon — A petition filed by a citizens group asking the state to incorporate the Town of Lisbon as a village was ruled invalid by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez on Wednesday morning after the Village of Sussex asked him to dismiss the document.

Ramirez said he was not ruling on whether the town could qualify as a village but was in agreement with arguments presented by Village of Sussex lawyer Stanley Riffle that the petition submitted by Lisbon-inc. org failed to met some specifically required state standards.

Michael Krill, a lawyer for the citizens group, said a new petition, with the legal deficiencies corrected, could be circulated for town residents' signatures and submitted to the county Circuit Court in about two weeks.

Although some town officials appear to be angered by the Village of Sussex intervention into the incorporation process, two cofounders of the citizens group, Robert Williams and Wendy Landry, said after the court hearing that the village may have "intentionally or inadvertently" done them a favor.

"It is better that we find out now (about the deficiencies) than later and it cost us $25,000," Williams said.

The citizens organization will have to be pay a fee of $25,000 for the state Incorporation Review Board to consider any incorporation petition approved by the Circuit Court. The fee is not refundable if the Incorporation Review Board denies the request to become a village.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke and Administrator Jeff Musche attended the hearing. Immediately after the judge's ruling, Riffle and Village Administrator Evan Teich asked to meet privately with the town officials.

Riffle left the private discussions in a nearby conference room after about 10 minutes. But Teich, Gehrke and Musche continued their huddle for about another 30 minutes.

"I don't want to say much," Gehrke said as he emerged from the meeting.

"I am going to talk to (Sussex Village President) Tony (Lapcinski) later," Gehrke added.

"My position has not changed from last week," he said.

Gehrke had previously said he was "disappointed" that the village had intervened into the incorporation process and that he had relied on Lapcinski's comments to the Sussex Sun last summer indicating the village would not object to the town seeking status as a village.

Gehrke had also noted that in a border agreement between the two communities, village officials had said they would not interfere with the town's efforts to become a village.

A reporter asked Teich before the hearing whether the Village Board had changed its position on Lisbon's incorporation effort, in view of Riffle's request to dismiss the petition.

"I cannot comment on that," responded the usually cooperative Teich.

During the court proceedings, Riffle told the judge that the village had not taken a position on the "merits" of the town's bid to become a village, but he said the village was concerned by a number of legal deficiencies included in the petition.

"There are a lot of people that are affected by this petition. We want to protect them and taxpayers dollars," Riffle said.

As Gehrke later pointed out, there are, so far, no tax dollars invested in the effort by the Town Board. The petition effort has been coordinated by Williams and Landry, both former town supervisors, and Denise Wenger, a former member of the Plan Commission.

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Feathers ruffled without approval

Village president, trustees did not approve Riffle intervention

By Kelly Smith

Posted: April 6, 2010

Village of Sussex — The Village President and a majority of the Village Board said they were not informed by attorney Stanley Riffle of his plans to formally object to a petition filed by a citizens' group asking the state to incorporate the Town of Lisbon into a village.

The incorporation petition was rejected by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez last week apparently at least partly in response to the objections raised by Riffle.

Ramirez said he was not ruling on the "merits" of the petition but he concurred with Riffle that the petition did not comply with deadline and signature requirements.

Michael Krill, a lawyer for Lisbon-inc.org," target="_blank">Lisbon-inc.org, said a new petition could be circulated for town residents' signatures and submitted to the county Circuit Court in about two weeks.

Two co-founders of the citizens group, former town supervisors Robert Williams and Wendy Landry, said after the hearing that the village may have "intentionally or inadvertently" done them a favor.

"It is better that we find out now (about the deficiencies) that later and it cost us $25, 000," Williams said.

The group has to pay a $25,000 fee for the state Incorporation Review Board to review the petition and decide whether the town meets the legal requirement to become a village and can seek voter approval in a referendum.

Riffle's role in the hearings angered some Town of Lisbon officials and appeared to be contrary to the philosophies expressed by the president and some village trustees.

Lisbon Supervisor Joe Osterman chastised village officials for intervening in the incorporation campaign that he pointed out was being led by citizens, not town officials.

"You talk a good game in public of friendship, but are unwilling to take any mutually positive steps towards that goal. In my opinion, this attempt to have the Lisbon incorporation proceedings thrown out of court on a technicality shows your lack of effort toward being good, cooperative neighbors," he said in a letter to the village board.

Four trustees - Jim Batzko, Timothy Dietrich, Gregory Goetz and Pat Tetzlaff - said in separate interviews that they were not aware of the objections until after they were filed by Riffle on March 29, the day before the hearing in which Ramirez dismissed the petitions.

"I did not know he was going to do it, I am not even sure he told Evan (Village Administrator Evan Teich), he just did it," Lapcinski explained.

Lapcinski said Riffle may have misunderstood the instructions given him a week earlier during a closed meeting of the village board on March 23. Riffle told the Sussex Sun he would not discuss why he filed the objections because it was the subject of the closed meeting.

"He was supposed to attend the meeting and raise any objections he had without appearing to be too picky," Lapcinski added.

"I want Lisbon to be whatever Lisbon wants to be," Tetzlaff said in an interview

"I think we should be good neighbors and treat them they same way we would want to be treated," added Dietrich.

Lapcinski reiterated that he had no objections to Lisbon becoming a village because it would not have impact on Sussex's borders and possible future annexation of Lisbon lands as defined by a border agreement between the communities.

But, he added the petition needed to be carefully reviewed to determine if it was consistent with the border agreement. He noted that no one from the town or Lisbon-inc.org had discussed the incorporation petition with village officials.

Lapcinski said he is trying to schedule a meeting with Lisbon-inc.org.

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Same refraine: Keep dialogue open

Posted: April 6, 2010

The recent meltdown of plans to incorporate the Town of Lisbon had a familiar ring to it.

Rewind history to one of a half dozen places in the last 40 years and you would find it, as Yogi Berra used to say, déjà vue all over again.

Sussex Village Attorney Stan Riffle's objections to procedural questions about the town's merger attempt were enough to shelve the latest proposal. Town leaders are vowing to bring the matter back up again, this time with more i's dotted and t's crossed. But it is clear there is more to this discussion than technicalities. In law, technicalities are merely a tool, a means to an end.

The In order for incorporation to have the greatest chance for success, Sussex would need to agree with it from the get-go. Like it or not, state law clearly stacks the deck in favor of communities that are already incorporated. That is, Sussex has a surprising amount of say in what Lisbon can do to seal its sovereignty.

As awkward as it might be, giving Sussex at least a seat at the table or even keeping the village officials in the loop might help. A border agreement between the two communities, which is key to passage at the state level and the courts, should be formally recognized in the documentation, as well.

What makes the already dicey negotiations tougher is that Lisbon, strapped for funds as it is, has yielded a lot of the leadership on this matter to a citizens group. That leaves Sussex with a two-headed monster and not knowing who is really calling the shots.

We still hold out hope for a Sussex and Lisbon as a joint community. But if this incorporation were to succeed, perhaps it will mean that two legally equal entities can finally sit together and talk about the longer range benefit to the citizens instead of how to play the gotcha game. A focus on sharing, unifying and improving services, and saving tax dollars, is where the emphasis should be, not on playing the game of one-upmanship that for too long has dominated the dialogue between both of our fine communities.

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Your Letters 04/14/10

Posted: April 13, 2010

Misrepresentation of facts

To the editor,

I want to voice my displeasure about the total inaccuracies in the April 7 editorial of the Sussex Sun. We are all prone to make mistakes, myself included. But as the editor of a local paper I would expect you to do a little research before writing an editorial.

To write an editorial on hearsay and false assumptions is unprofessional. I would expect more of you. It was stated that "Town leaders have vowed to bring the matter (incorporation) up again." What Town leaders? The Town has nothing to do with this incorporation effort. It is a private group with no ties what-so-ever with Lisbon. Lisbon is not "strapped for funds." While we are always watching our pennies, we have a surplus from last year's budget which we will ask residents at our upcoming annual meeting on how to use it.

Lisbon has not "yielded a lot of the leadership of this matter (incorporation) to a citizens group." Again, the Town of Lisbon has nothing to do with the incorporation effort. Private citizens can, and do seek to incorporate towns all on their own without any involvement of the municipality.

You have given the citizens of Lisbon totally false assumptions that the town is involved it this incorporation effort. I would appreciate it if you could clear up this matter so that town residents have a clear understanding of who is involved and who is not involved it this incorporation effort.

Dan Fischer

Town of Lisbon Supervisor #3

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Group renews village quest

New signatures will be filed with court this week

By Kelly Smith

Posted: April 19, 2010

Town of Lisbon — Organizers of a campaign to upgrade the status of Lisbon local government from a town to a village said they anticipate filing new incorporation petitions with the Waukesha County Circuit Court possibly this week.

Wendy Landry, Robert Williams and Denise Wenger, founders of Lisbon-inc. org., told the annual town meeting last week they would seek town residents' signatures on the petition on Saturday, April 17, at the Town Hall, the town compost site and the Richard Jung Fire Station.

Williams said the petition and signatures may be submitted to the county circuit court as early as Monday or Tuesday of this week.

According to state law, the Circuit Court determines whether the petition establishes that the town meets minimum requirements to seek incorporation as a village.

If the court approves the petition, there will be a hearing before an incorporation review board, which will determine whether the town can qualify to become a village. If, according to the review board, the town meets the qualifications, the Circuit Court will order a binding referendum so voters can choose whether the town will become a village.

Proponents of incorporation argue that if the town becomes a village, the community can protect its borders against annexation by surrounding villages and cities and therefore protect its tax base and make local zoning and land-use decisions without having to seek approval from Waukesha County officials and review - and sometimes approval - from surrounding cities and villages.

In October, Lisbon-inc.org submitted to the court a petition with the required signatures. However, Circuit Court Judge Ramirez dismissed the petitions two weeks ago, partly based on objections raised by Stanley Riffle, an attorney for the Village of Sussex.

In a letter to the judge, Riffle contended the petitions did not contain information required by state law and were not filed in a timely manner.

Ramirez said he concurred with Riffle's objection and would dismiss the petitions without ruling on the merits of whether the documents establish that the town meets minimum requirements to seek incorporation.

Riffle's intervention angered some town officials who said a border agreement between Lisbon and the Village of Sussex had stipulated that Sussex would not object to incorporation efforts by the town.

Several village trustees, along with Village President Tony Lapcinski, said Riffle had acted without their approval.

There was no mention of Riffle's role during last week's Village Board meeting, but Lapcinski reported that he intends to meet with the leaders of Lisbon-inc. com.

He noted that the organizers of the petition drive are private citizens, not town officials, which, he said, makes it difficult for the village to engage in official discussions with the group.

Town Board members, some of whom said they are sympathetic to the effort, have not endorsed the petition drive and, so far, have refused to provide any town funds for the effort.

Landry told town residents that the organization has raised about $8,000 of the $25,000 it needs pay a filing fee for the hearing with the state Incorporation Review Board.

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Incorporation may be Lisbon's biggest issue

Lippert: Residents satisfied with town tax levels

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 18, 2010

Town of Lisbon - Incorporation - the process of upgrading the town government structure to the village form of government - was the issue most on the minds of town voters during the April municipal, according to Supervisor Ryan Lippert who visited with about 600 town residents during his door-to-door campaign.

Lippert, 36, a resident of the town for only four years, was an unknown political novice until he successfully used the door-to-door campaign tactic in both primary and general municipal elections.

In the February primary, he visited with about 400 voters. In the general election campaign, he said he knocked on 1,200 doors in the town and was able to chat with voters in about half of those homes.

He said a vast majority of the voters were friendly and appreciative of his visit.

"Some of them said they had never had anyone come to their door before," he said.

"Sometimes they would even invite me into their house and we would sit and talk," he added.

Services, leadership OK

Lippert shared some of the insights he learned from those voters during a recent interview with Lake Country Publications.

He said voters appeared to be satisfied with their town government and the services it was providing them. He said he heard no complaints about the performance of the Lisbon Fire Department, Waukesha County sheriff department patrols, or taxation levels.

"I did not hear anyone complain that their taxes were too high," he said.

"But, everyone was also being careful, they did not want that situation to change," he added.

Neighborhood issues

Lippert said occasionally voters would bring up issues that were specific to their local neighborhoods.

He said residents living near the Village of Sussex borders were concerned they may someday have to hook up to the village sewer system. He said some residents in the southwest quadrant of the town were still opposed to the new fire station built at the intersection of Highways K and JK.

He said other residents were concerned about the conditions of roads in their neighborhoods such as Colgate and Ainsworth roads.

He said some voters all over town recalled the personnel controversies that broiled over in the police department, cost the town more than $125,000 in legal fees, and resulted in the department being abolished and replaced by a police service contract with the county.

Lippert said a majority of the voters did not express a concern or knowledge about any specific local government issue but indicated they were aware that they were living in a community with a town form of government that, with some exceptions, did not provide some of the services of a city or village such as sewer, water, or community based police services.

"A lot of people I think were like I was they moved out here knowing that there was not going to be sewer and water and sidewalks, curbs and gutters. But they wanted to get away from some of that so they could live somewhere where there were larger lots," he said.

Incorporation tops

He said incorporation was the issue that seemed to concern voters the most.

"A lot of times they were asking me questions about it and what I thought," he said.

"People are pretty satisfied with the way things are and they are afraid incorporation may change things. For some reason, I am not sure why, there is a perception that if we become a village, their taxes will be higher," he added.

Like his fellow Town Board members, Lippert has remained neutral on the issue. He said he explained to voters that he believed incorporation was being promoted as a way to preserve the town's border and tax base, not to increase municipal services or taxes.

He said he referred voters' questions to members of the citizen committee that prepared incorporation petitions that must be approved by the Waukesha County Circuit Court before a state incorporation review board holds hearings. If the petition is approved by the review board, incorporation would have to be approved at a referendum.

Lippert estimated that about 65 percent of the residents he talked to had lived in the town longer than 10 years. He said the remaining 35 percent had lived in the town less than 10 years.

Lippert estimated that about 10 to 20 percent of the voters, virtually all of them conservative Republicans like himself, engaged him in discussions about state and national political issues and philosophies.

But, majority of the conversations with voters focused on local issues and Lippert's candidacy.

After introducing himself, Lippert usually initiated the discussion about local government by asking voters if they had any questions. Occasionally, he said, voters would initiate the discussion by raising an issue that concerned them.

Lippert said the age range of the residents was about evenly divided between those more than 60 years old and those younger than 60 years.

At 36, Lippert becomes the third of five town board members to be in their 30s. Lippert said a few voters noted the unusually young age of the town board members and expressed their appreciation that younger men with both family and career obligations would be willing to serve in town government.

Several of the voters looked at the photo of Lippert's young family on his campaign brochure and asked him if his wife approved of his campaign. He told them she did.

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Village officials ponder strategy for town incorporation

By Kelly Smith

Posted: June 22, 2010

Village of Sussex — Village officials met behind closed doors Tuesday night to discuss what role - if any - they would play in the Town of Lisbon's efforts to upgrade its status from a town to a village government.

Village Administrator Evan Teich said the closed session was planned before the village was notified of a July 23 hearing by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin on the incorporation petitions filed by the Lisbon citizens' group Lisbon-Inc.org

Teich said the purpose of the closed session is for attorney Stanley Riffle to provide village trustees with details about the incorporation process, the village's options, and to update the Village Board on any new developments.

Teich said he anticipates the board may give Riffle instructions on what role they want him to play - if any - at the hearing next month.

Leaders of Lisbon-Inc. org think that a border agreement between the town and the village prohibits the village from objecting to the town's effort to become a village.

However, earlier this year, Riffle, a law partner of village attorney John Macy, successfully blocked an earlier petition filed by the citizens group.

Riffle, an expert on the state's municipal incorporation law, has been retained by village trustees to represent the interests of the village in any incorporation proceedings.

Riffle ruffled some feathers in both the town and village in April when he persuaded Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez to dismiss the initial incorporation petition because of technical flaws that did not comply with state-imposed deadlines and signature requirements.

Four of the seven village trustees told Lake Country Publications that Riffle's involvement in that court hearing was contrary to the instructions they thought he was given during a closed session in March.

However, other sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have said Riffle's actions were in accordance with instructions given him by Village President Tony Lapcinski and Teich.

Town of Lisbon officials were not happy that Riffle blocked the petition, even though town supervisors have not endorsed the Lisbon-Inc.org campaign.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said Riffle's involvement may have violated the spirit - and perhaps the letter - of the border agreement between the two communities.

The circuit court's role, according to state law, is to determine whether the petition meets the technical requirements of state law and whether the town meets the minimum criteria to become a "metropolitan" village by being an area at least two square miles with a minimum population of 2,500 and a density of at least 500 persons per any square mile.

If the judge rules the town meets the minimum requirements and the petition is valid, a hearing will be conducted by a state review board to determine whether the town is eligible for incorporation.

If the board determines the town is eligible, the county circuit court will set a date for a referendum where voters may approve or reject a proposal to incorporate the town as a village.

At least two village trustees - Timothy Dietrich and Pat Tetzlaff - continue to say that the village should not interfere in the town's efforts to become a village as long as those efforts do not violate the border agreement between the communities.

However, both Dietrich and Tetzlaff acknowledged that there are some village officials who are "concerned" that Sussex would become land-locked and surrounded by the Village of Lisbon.

Most of the village is presently surrounded by the Town of Lisbon. However, because of its higher municipal status, villages hold some review and veto powers over the town land-use decisions and can annex town land. The village would lose those powers if the town became a village except in specific parcels defined in the border agreement.

Teich pointed out that the village's ability to enter to agreements with surrounding villages such as Merton and Menomonee Falls would also be affected if Lisbon were to become a village because some parcels of land in Lisbon are located between Lisbon's borders with the Villages of Merton and Menomonee Falls.

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What's Sussex role in Lisbon endeavor?

Village officials ponder strategy for town incorporation

By Kelly Smith

Posted: June 23, 2010

Village of Sussex —Village officials met behind closed doors Tuesday night to discuss what role - if any - they would play in the Town of Lisbon's efforts to upgrade its status from a town to a village government.

Village Administrator Evan Teich said the closed session was planned before the village was notified of a July 23 hearing by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin on the incorporation petitions filed by the Lisbon citizens' group Lisbon-Inc.org

Teich said the purpose of the closed session is for attorney Stanley Riffle to provide village trustees with details about the incorporation process, the village's options, and to update the Village Board on any new developments.

Teich said he anticipates the board may give Riffle instructions on what role they want him to play - if any - at the hearing next month.

Leaders of Lisbon-Inc. org think that a border agreement between the town and the village prohibits the village from objecting to the town's effort to become a village.

However, earlier this year, Riffle, a law partner of village attorney John Macy, successfully blocked an earlier petition filed by the citizens group.

Riffle, an expert on the state's municipal incorporation law, has been retained by village trustees to represent the interests of the village in any incorporation proceedings.

Riffle ruffled some feathers in both the town and village in April when he persuaded Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez to dismiss the initial incorporation petition because of technical flaws that did not comply with state-imposed deadlines and signature requirements.

Four of the seven village trustees told Lake Country Publications that Riffle's involvement in that court hearing was contrary to the instructions they thought he was given during a closed session in March.

However, other sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have said Riffle's actions were in accordance with instructions given him by Village President Tony Lapcinski and Teich.

Town of Lisbon officials were not happy that Riffle blocked the petition, even though town supervisors have not endorsed the Lisbon-Inc.org campaign.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said Riffle's involvement may have violated the spirit - and perhaps the letter - of the border agreement between the two communities.

The circuit court's role, according to state law, is to determine whether the petition meets the technical requirements of state law and whether the town meets the minimum criteria to become a "metropolitan" village by being an area at least two square miles with a minimum population of 2,500 and a density of at least 500 persons per any square mile.

If the judge rules the town meets the minimum requirements and the petition is valid, a hearing will be conducted by a state review board to determine whether the town is eligible for incorporation.

If the board determines the town is eligible, the county circuit court will set a date for a referendum where voters may approve or reject a proposal to incorporate the town as a village.

At least two village trustees - Timothy Dietrich and Pat Tetzlaff - continue to say that the village should not interfere in the town's efforts to become a village as long as those efforts do not violate the border agreement between the communities.

However, both Dietrich and Tetzlaff acknowledged that there are some village officials who are "concerned" that Sussex would become land-locked and surrounded by the Village of Lisbon.

Most of the village is presently surrounded by the Town of Lisbon. However, because of its higher municipal status, villages hold some review and veto powers over the town land-use decisions and can annex town land. The village would lose those powers if the town became a village except in specific parcels defined in the border agreement.

Teich pointed out that the village's ability to enter to agreements with surrounding villages such as Merton and Menomonee Falls would also be affected if Lisbon were to become a village because some parcels of land in Lisbon are located between Lisbon's borders with the Villages of Merton and Menomonee Falls.

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Big week for Lisbon Incorporation

Town Board debate Wednesday, court hearing Friday

By Kelly Smith

Posted: July 20, 2010

A citizen's group effort to upgrade Lisbon's local government from a town to a village may encounter some crossroads this week.

On Friday, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr. is scheduled to determine whether the petition to incorporate the town into a village submitted by Lisbon-Inc.org meets state requirements.

If the Judge approves the petition, the citizen's group needs to raise $25,000 required to file the petition with state officials for a hearing conducted by a state incorporation review board.

Wednesday night, the Lisbon Town Board is scheduled to discuss whether the supervisors want to endorse the citizen group's effort.

Leaders of the citizens group have asked the board to endorse the campaign without making a commitment to provide any funds, according to town officials.

So far, town supervisors have said they are sympathetic to the group's incorporation effort, but they will not endorse it nor will they provide town funds to pay the filing fee or an estimated $100,000 necessary to prepare a presentation to the incorporation review board.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said he anticipates that supervisors will agree Wednesday night that Lisbon would benefit from becoming a village but will not formally endorse the incorporation campaign.

It appears likely that the incorporation effort may also be included in a closed door session Wednesday where supervisors will privately discuss their bargaining position in possible talks with the Village of Sussex regarding the border agreement between the two communities and the possibility of the communities sharing some services.

Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski, in an interview with Lake Country Publications earlier this week, said he believed it was necessary for the town board to endorse the incorporation effort in order for it to have any hope of succeeding.

Lapcinski said village trustees have been advised by attorney Stan Riffle that communities that surround the Town of Lisbon must either endorse the incorporation effort, or remain neutral, if it is to approved by state authorities, the courts, and then placed on the ballot for referendum approval.

Lapcinski said Riffle suggested the supporters of the incorporation effort should line up the support of surrounding municipalities before submitting the petitions to the state review board.

Lapcinski said the Sussex Village Board does not want to interfere with the citizen group's efforts to incorporate the town into a village. However, he said village trustees are obligated to protect Sussex's borders and the village's interest in the town's incorporation.

He said Sussex and Lisbon officials need to discuss what impact the town's incorporation might have on the village and the border agreement between the communities.

"It is not just Sussex, the town board needs to have discussions with all of the municipalities, Menomonee Falls, Pewaukee, Hartland, the Village of Merton, that surround the town. Those discussions have to take place with the elected officials in the town, not a citizen's group," Lapcinski added.

"There is apparently an internal debate going on between the town board and the citizens group. The Village of Sussex does not want to be involved in that debate. But two things have to happen for the village to discuss incorporation with the town. First, the town board must endorse it. Second, the town board must have discussions with all of the municipalities that touch its borders," said Lapcinski.

Interviews with the two elected leaders indicated ongoing private talks between elected representatives in the two communities have apparently stalled.

Lapcinski said he and Gehrke met about a month ago but Lapcinski said he has not heard from Gehrke since their last meeting.

Gehrke said Lapcinski was supposed to contact him about setting up another meeting.

Gehrke suggested the private talks between he and Lapcinski and Supervisor Joe Osterman and Trustee Pat Tetzlaff have been productive.

"There have been some proposals that we have put out on the table. We are still working on finding middle ground," he added.

Town officials were miffed at Riffle earlier this year when he was instrumental in persuading Judge Ralph M. Ramirez to reject an initial petition filed by Lisbon-Inc.org on the grounds it failed to meet state requirements.

Some village trustees were also perturbed at Riffle because they believed he was instructed by the village board to observe but not participate in the March 30 hearing.

However, Riffle's instructions for the hearing later this week are to take what steps he believes necessary to protect the village's interest, according to Lapcinski.

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Sussex to annex Lisbon?

By Kelly Smith

July 23, 2010

Village of Sussex - Village trustees are expected to consider next week a resolution indicating that the Village Board is willing to consider annexing all of the territory in the Town of Lisbon.

It is unclear whether the village would attempt to annex any town land if the resolution was adopted by two thirds of the seven trustees. However, there are indications village officials believe the resolution is necessary because of a citizens group's effort to upgrade Lisbon's local government from a town to a village.

Town officials "are going to take some time to think about what has happened and then decide what to do about it" according to Town Chairman Matt Gehrke. The Town Board last week endorsed the incorporation petitions filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court by the citizens group Lisbon-Inc.org.

Gehrke said he believed 90 percent of town residents would oppose annexation into the village "because of the villages extremely high taxes" that he said "reflects the village administrations lack of fiscal discipline."

Gehrke said Village President Tony Lapcinski told him in a telephone conversation Friday that the Sussex did not want to be neighbors with another municipality that had lower taxes and provided fewer services than Sussex. Lapcinski could not be reached for comment.

Village Attorney Stanley Riffle told Circuit Court Judge Donald Hassin Friday afternoon that the state department of administration would "prefer" the village adopt the annexation resolution if village officials intend to raise issues about the level of Lisbon services during hearings on the incorporation petitions.

Hassin agreed to delay for 30 days his decision on whether the petitions meet state standards in order to give village trustees time to consider the annexation resolution.

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Sussex to annex Lisbon?

Village may object to Lisbon becoming a village

By Kelly Smith

Posted: July 26, 2010

Village of Sussex — Village trustees may adopt a resolution tonight indicating their willingness to annex all of the lands within the borders of the Town of Lisbon.

The adoption of the resolution appears to be a legal maneuver intended to preserve the village's ability to object to an incorporation effort to upgrade Lisbon's local government from a town to a village and put it on equal status with Sussex.

Some village officials believe Lisbon provides it residents with a lower level of police, park and recreation, utility, and human services.

Those officials fear village residents would continue paying higher taxes to maintain services that might also be used by Village of Lisbon residents, according to Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski.

"The purpose of this resolution is to insure village taxpayers that if there is incorporation either the Village of Lisbon will increase its level of services so they are the same as the Village of Sussex or the town will become part of the Village of Sussex," Lapcinski said.

"This is the first time Tony has mentioned any of this to me," said Lisbon Town Chairman Matt Gehrke.

Gehrke said he believed 90 percent of the residents of the town would oppose annexation into the village "because of the village's extremely high tax rate" that he said reflects "the village administration's lack of fiscal discipline."

The village tax rate is about $4.34 per $1,000 assessed valuation while the town tax rate is about $2.87.

Lapcinski said the difference in the tax rates is because the village provides a higher level of service.

The town board last week adopted a resolution supporting the citizen group Lisbon-Inc.org's" target="_blank">Lisbon-Inc.org's efforts to incorporate the town as a village.

Supervisors emphasized the resolution does not provide any town funds for the incorporation effort.

Sussex Village Attorney Stanley Riffle, during a court hearing Friday, said state department of administration officials told him last week they would "prefer" the village adopt the annexation resolution if the village intends to raise service level issues during the incorporation process.

Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr. granted Riffle's request to delay the Lisbon-Inc. org's incorporation proceedings about 30 days to give the village trustees time to consider adopting the resolution.

Lisbon-Inc.org officials were hoping the judge would rule their incorporation petitions met state standards so the state incorporation review board could hold hearings.

If the board recommended incorporation, town voters would have to approve incorporating into a village.

Town officials were surprised and perturbed by village's legal maneuvering and annexation resolution which must be approved by two thirds of the trustees.

There have been a series of private meetings between Gehrke and Lapcinski, Sussex Trustee Pat Tetzlaff and Lisbon Supervisor Joe Osterman.

Gehrke said Lapcinski had never indicated to him that the village might challenge the incorporation until after Friday's court hearing.

"The only thing missing in all of this is the friendship medals," quipped Osterman in reference to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The Japanese government gave American representatives friendship medals during talks between the nations until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

The town officials have believed that their borders and any efforts to incorporate into a village were protected through border agreement reached by the two communities in 2001.

However, Riffle told a reporter Friday that he does not believe "the letter or the spirit" of the agreement has been abided by in relation to the communities working together to share services.

The agreement calls for the creation of a joint services committee which has never been formally adopted by the two governing bodies.

But Gehrke pointed he and former town chairman Michael Reed initiated shared services agreement discussions with the village.

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Sussex

Village willing to annex Lisbon

Village officials want to keep legal options open

By Kelly Smith

Posted: July 28, 2010

Village of Sussex — The Village Board voted 6-1 Tuesday night to adopt a resolution indicating its willingness to annex all of the lands in the Town of Lisbon despite a plea from the town chairman that the vote would send the wrong message to residents of both communities.

Village Attorney John Macy emphasized the resolution is intended to keep the village's legal options open regarding efforts by town residents to incorporate, or upgrade, their form of government from town to village.

The resolution does not mean that the village intends to begin annexing town lands, according to Macy.

"But, I am afraid that when people in the town read the headlines they are going to think that Sussex is trying to take their land," said Wendy Landry, a former town supervisor who has helped lead the incorporation effort.

"I don't think this is Armageddon and I don't think it means a civil war," said Village President Tony Lapcinski.

Lapcinski urged the trustees to adopt the resolution so village officials could present to state officials their concerns about what they perceive as lower levels of government services in the Town of Lisbon.

The state department of administrator has told village attorneys that the department "prefers" the village adopt the resolution before they raise issues about the services that might be provided by a Village of Lisbon.

Macy explained that one of the issues is whether the Village of Lisbon can provide services for its residents compared to the services that might be available in bordering municipalities.

Lapcinski pointed out that local governments in Pewaukee and Menomonee Falls, as well as Sussex, were concerned whether the Village of Lisbon officials would be willing to levy taxes high enough to provide adequate services.

Lapcinski noted that while Sussex and Lisbon have similar populations, Sussex has a larger police force, more parks, and provides more services to its residents than the Town of Lisbon provides its constituents.

He said adopting the resolution was the only alternative to making sure those issues could be raised during the incorporation process,

In addition, Lapcinski said he was concerned that the Village of Sussex would be almost completely surrounded by the newly created Village of Lisbon which would be given equal powers to the Village of Sussex.

"There are some people in Lisbon who want their cake and eat it to," added Trustee Jason Wegner.

"They want to be a village but they want the taxpayers of Sussex to pay for it," Wegner added, suggesting Village of Lisbon residents would rely on government services provided by Sussex.

Sussex residents pay higher taxes to receive more services than Lisbon residents, according to Sussex officials.

Trustee Pat Tetzlaff voted against the resolution. She suggested there might be a better alternative than adopting a resolution which she believed would be a setback to improving relationships between the governing bodies.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke urged the village trustees to defeat the resolution and instead work with the town board to increase shared services between the communities.

Gehrke said the town board would consider paying a greater share of any shared service where the town was receiving greater benefits than the village.

But, he warned that town supervisors would not allow village trustees to dictate what services the town must provide or what taxes town residents would be expected to pay.

After the meeting, Supervisor Dan Fischer said he was optimistic that the two governing boards would begin meeting together to iron out differences regarding levels of municipal services.

Fischer said he believes the residents of both communities want the local governments working together and sharing services rather than feuding with each other.

There were as many Lisbon officials and residents at the meeting in village hall as there were Sussex officials and citizens.

Four of the five town board members were present along with four of the seven plan commissioners and two former town board members.

The Lisbon fire chief and the park superintendent were also present.

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Library next issue for Lisbon-Sussex

Annexation resolution raises tensions between village, town

By Kelly Smith

IN ATTENDANCE - Lisbon Supervisor Daniel Heier, Plan Commission member Steven Panten, Fire Chief Doug Brahm, Supervisors Joe Osterman, and Dan Fischer, Gehrke (hidden) and Plan Commission member Jane Stadler filled the audience during the meeting to hear discussion over Lisbon incorporation.

The President of the Pauline Haass Library Board is optimistic that growing tensions between elected officials in the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex over an annexation resolution adopted last week by the village board will not interfere with negotiations over a new joint library agreement expected to begin later this month.

Emil Glodoski said elected officials in both communities "take great pride in the fact that the library serves both communities and they take pride in fact that they had been able to work together on the library which they see as 'the crown jewel' of the two communities."

"There has been a history of differences between the boards in the two communities but when it comes to the library they have somehow always been able to work together," he concluded.

Glodoski of the Town of Lisbon has served about 10 years on the board. The village and town boards appoint members to the Library Board which oversees operations of the seventh largest library in Waukesha County.

Library officials want discussions on a new agreement to begin as soon as possible. They say it is difficult for the library staff and board to plan for the future because the existing agreement between the two communities expires in 2014.

The Library Board is scheduled to meet with the village and town board on Aug. 18.

It was apparent last that week that relationships between the town and village boards were strained by the Village Board's 6 to 1 vote indicating its willingness to annex all lands in the town despite pleas from Town Chairman Matt Gehrke that the resolution would "send the wrong signal" to residents of both communities.

Village Attorney John Macy emphasized the resolution was adopted to maintain the village's legal options regarding efforts by town residents to incorporate, or upgrade, their form of government from a town to a village.

Village President Tony Lapcinski added adopting the resolution was necessary if village officials wanted to raise issues relating to municipal services during incorporation hearings.

Lapcinski noted that while Sussex and Lisbon have similar populations, Sussex has a larger police force, more parks, and provides more services to its residents than the Town of Lisbon offers it constituents.

Trustee Fred Gallant asserted that town officials and residents have not "fairly compensated" the village for providing services that town residents seek.

"I had always hoped we could find some common ground but it has become apparent to me that there are those in Lisbon who want their cake and eat it too at the expense of the village," Gallant concluded.

Gehrke urged the trustees to work with town supervisors on increasing shared services between the communities rather than passing a resolution threatening annexation of town lands.

Gehrke said the town board would consider paying a greater share of the costs of any shared services in which they believed the town benefitted more than the village.

Town Supervisor Joe Osterman later added, "I asked some of the trustees after the meeting what Sussex services they thought Lisbon was using and the only thing they could name was the Fourth of July Fireworks and Lions Daze."

Trustee Pat Tetzlaff voted against the resolution arguing there might be other alternatives than adopting a resolution that she believed would set back improving relationships between the governing bodies.

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Sussex officials lack integrity

To the editor,

I attended the Sussex Village Board Meeting on Tuesday, July 27, and watched in dismay as each member of the Board talked about protecting Sussex from Lisbon by opposing the Incorporation of Lisbon into a village. Apparently, they have been making decisions about Lisbon (via their extraterritorial powers) for so long they feel the residents of Lisbon dare not ask for these same rights.

Their rationale for this position is beyond belief. They said they provide a much higher level of service than Lisbon and Lisbon should help pay for these services. Further, that the residents of Lisbon should not have sought incorporation without seeking Sussex's approval. The Village Board determined the level of services Sussex wanted and was willing to pay for, not the residents of Lisbon. We should not be penalized for their decisions.

The current border agreement includes language that the Village of Sussex will not oppose incorporation by Lisbon. I am not aware of any complaint by the Village of Sussex that Lisbon was failing to abide by the border agreement, at least not prior to the incorporation process. However, the Village Board now opposes incorporation despite its formal, written promise not to do so. This apparent lack of integrity should be of great concern to the residents of and those who do business with Sussex as well as to the residents of Lisbon.

As a resident of Lisbon I cannot vote for the trustees in Sussex even though these people have the ability to charge me for plan review and can deny me zoning approvals. I am now accused of using services I don't pay for. I don't think I have done this but I will ensure that I don't in the future. Since I have no vote in Sussex I will have to vote by not doing business there. In the past I have patronized many Sussex businesses such as Schroeder Implement, Ace Hardware, Chuck's Main Street Auto, Pick 'n Save, Piggly Wiggly, McDonald's, Culver's and George Webb to name some. I patronized these businesses to support what I thought was my community, even though in many cases I paid more than at other places I could have gone. I will no longer patronize these or any other business in Sussex so as not to utilize village services or contribute to the costs of those services.

I sincerely regret having to take such a position but see no other way to effectively communicate my feeling of persecution by the Village of Sussex officials as they work to deny me the same rights and privileges their citizens enjoy. As soon as they show me we are all one community and reverse their position - I will reverse mine. Until that time I encourage all non-residents of Sussex not to use Sussex services by not patronizing the businesses in Sussex.

Mark Meyer

Lisbon

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Lisbon incorporation petition approved

By Kelly Smith

Aug. 23, 2010

Town of Lisbon - Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr. has given a citizens' group permission to petition the state to incorporate the Town of Lisbon into a village.

The hearing in Hassin's court last less than five minutes. Sussex Village Attorney Stanley Riffle told the judge he had no objections to a new petition filed by Lisbon-Inc.org, the citizens' group seeking to upgrade Lisbon's form of government from a town to a village.

Riffle has blocked court approval in two previous hearings when he raised technical objections to the petitions, arguing they did not comply with the requirements of state law. Michael Krill, an attorney for the citizens group, corrected the flaws and distributed the petition to surrounding government units inlcuding the villages of Menomonee Falls and Sussex, which Riffle represents.

Krill said the citizens group is seeking incorporation to prevent surrounding villages from annexing town lands and to protect the town's history and natural resources.

If the petition is approved by a state incorporation review board, the court will set a date for a referendum for voters to decide whether they want the town to become a village. Town officials have endorsed "any effort" to incorporate but, so far, have refused to provide any funds for the effort. A $25,000 filing fee is required before the incorporation review board conducts its hearings.

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Court approves petition; Town of Lisbon into village

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Aug. 24, 2010

Town of Lisbon — Without objections from Sussex Village Attorney Stanley Riffle, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr. took less than five minutes Monday to grant the citizens group Lisbon-Inc.org permission to petition the state to incorporate the Town of Lisbon into a village.

Michael Krill, attorney for the citizens group, described the judge's decision as "an analysis that the Town of Lisbon meets the state requirements to be incorporated into a municipality."

Krill praised his clients for "taking control of their government" and seeking incorporation, which he said will protect the town's lands from annexation by surrounding villages and preserve its history and natural resources.

Riffle, who represents the Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls in the incorporation proceedings, had delayed court decisions in two previous hearings by successfully arguing that the petition failed to meet state standards.

Krill corrected the flaws in the petition and notified surrounding communities of the town's intent to incorporate. Riffle told the judge he had no objections to the corrections and notices that Krill that included in the petition.

Without the judge's approval, state law would not have permitted the petition to be filed with state Department of Administrative Services for a hearing to be conducted by the state Incorporation Review Board.

If the Incorporation Review Board approves the petition, the court will set a date for a referendum where voters may decide whether they want the town upgraded to a village.

The next challenge for Lisbon-Inc.org is raising the $25,000 filing fee that must be paid before the incorporation hearing can be scheduled.

Krill said he was not sure whether state law defined how soon the group must file the petitions with state officials, but the attorney said he was confident there would be sufficient time to raise the money.

Denise Wenger and former Town Supervisor Wendy Landry, founders of the citizens group, said the organization has about $8,000; they expressed confidence that the funds could be raised.

The Town Board has passed a resolution supporting "any effort" to upgrade the community to village government status, but has declined to provide any funding to the citizens group.

"It is on to the next step," is how Town Chairman Matt Gehrke reacted to the judge's decision.

The decision came so quickly that Gehrke, Town Administrator Jeff Musche and former Town Supervisor Robert Williams, one of the founders of Lisbon-Inc.org, missed the hearing.

They said they were delayed in reaching Hassin's court room because court records incorrectly listed the hearing in Hassin's previous courtroom on the first floor of the Waukesha County Courthouse rather in his present courtroom, which is on the second floor.

Fast facts

→ Judge Donald Hassin Jr. granted citizens group Lisbon-Inc.org permission to petition the state for incorporation of the town to a village.

→ The group's attorney said the incorporation would protect the town's lands from annexation and preserve its history and natural resources.

→ If the state incorporation review board approves the petition a hearing will be conducted by the state Incorporation Review Board.

→ If the hearing is successful, a date will be set for a referendum where residents will vote for or against Lisbon incorporation.

→ The next challenge for Lisbon-Inc.org is to raise a $25,000 filing fee before a hearing can be scheduled. The group has raised about $8,000 so far.

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Deadline set for Lisbon incorporation effort

Citizens group must raised $25,000 filing fee by Jan. 15

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Nov. 30, 2010

Town of Lisbon — Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin, Jr. has told a citizens group trying to upgrade Lisbon's form of municipal government that they have until Jan. 15 to raise a state-required filing fee of $25,000.

Denise Wenger, one of the founders of Lisbon-Inc.org, said she is confident the group can raise the money necessary for the filing fee to the state incorporation review board by the judge's deadline.

Wenger said that former Town Supervisor Robert Williams, a co-founder of Lisbon-Inc.org, as well as an attorney representing the group, told the judge before he set the deadline that the money could be raised.

Wenger said a letter is being sent to town residents seeking $12,000 in contributions to add to the $13,000 that has been raised by the group.

Wenger said she has been assured by some residents of the community that money for the filing fee can be raised.

It is uncertain what will happen if the group fails to raise the money by the deadline imposed by Judge Hassin.

Wenger and Sussex Village Administrator Jeremy Smith confirmed there is no provision in state law that establishes a deadline for filing the fee once a circuit court judge determines that an incorporation petition meets the requirements necessary for a hearing before the incorporation review board.

Hassin ruled earlier this year that the petition submitted to him by the group met state standards. Smith said the village asked the judge to establish a deadline for the filing fee payment.

Smith said a date certain for paying the filing fee is necessary in order for attorneys for the village and the incorporation group to reach an agreement on an order that will be issued by the judge implementing his decision that the incorporation petition qualifies for the state incorporation review board hearing.

The review board will determine whether the town meets the state requirements to become a village and then will recommend that the circuit court establish a date for a referendum of town voters to determine whether the town will become a village.

The Town Board has endorsed the effort by the citizens group but, so far, has declined to appropriate any public funds for the effort.

The Village of Sussex has officially taken no position on the town's incorporation effort but Village Attorney Stanley Riffle has continued to raise questions and legal issues challenging the incorporation petitions submitted by Lisbon-inc.org.

Wenger described the latest legal maneuver by Riffle as "another delaying tactic by the Village of Sussex."

Wenger has argued that one reason the town should incorporate into a village is so surrounding municipalities like Sussex cannot annex town lands and that the town elected officials have autonomy over its land use and planning decision. Presently, town land use and zoning decisions must also be approved by Waukesha County authorities and the town is subject to county land use restrictions.

Fast Facts

→ A judge has told a citizen's group working to incorporate Lisbon, they have until Jan. 15 to raise the $25,000 filing fee

→ The group will send a letter to town residents seeking $12,000 in contributions to match the $13,000 that has already been raised

→ There is no state law that creates a deadline to raise money for a filing fee; it is uncertain what will happen if the money is not raised by Jan. 15

→ Sussex Administrator Jeremy Smith said the a deadline for the filing fee is necessary for village attorneys and the incorporation group to reach an agreement on an order the judge will issue concerning his decision that the petition qualifies for a hearing

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Deadline set for Lisbon incorporation effort

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Dec. 6, 2010

Town of Lisbon —Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Donald J. Hassin, Jr. has told a citizens group trying to upgrade Lisbon's form of municipal government that they have until Jan. 15 to raise a state-required filing fee of $25,000.

Denise Wenger, one of the founders of Lisbon-Inc.org, is confident the group can raise the money necessary for the filing fee to the state incorporation review board by the judge's deadline.

Wenger said that former Town Supervisor Robert Williams, a co-founder of Lisbon-Inc.org, as well as an attorney representing the group, told the judge before he set the deadline that the money could be raised.

Wenger said a letter is being sent to town residents seeking $12,000 in contributions to add to the $13,000 that has been raised by the group.

Wenger said she has been assured by some residents of the community that money for the filing fee can be raised. It is uncertain what will happen if the group fails to raise the money by the deadline.

Wenger and Sussex Village Administrator Jeremy Smith confirmed there is no provision in state law that establishes a deadline for filing the fee once a circuit court judge determines that an incorporation petition meets the requirements necessary for a hearing before the incorporation review board.

Hassin ruled earlier this year that the petition submitted to him by the group met state standards. Smith said the village asked the judge to establish a deadline for the filing fee payment.

Smith said a date certain for paying the filing fee is necessary in order for attorneys for the village and the incorporation group to reach an agreement on an order that will be issued by the judge implementing his decision that the incorporation petition qualifies for the state incorporation review board hearing.

The review board will determine whether the town meets the state requirements to become a village and then will recommend that the circuit court establish a date for a referendum of town voters to determine whether the town will become a village.

The Town Board has endorsed the effort by the citizens group but, so far, has declined to appropriate any public funds for the effort.

The Village of Sussex has officially taken no position on the town's incorporation but Village Attorney Stanley Riffle has raised questions and legal issues challenging the incorporation petitions submitted by Lisbon-inc.org. , which Wenger called "another delaying tactic by the Village of Sussex."

Wenger has argued that one reason the town should incorporate into a village is so surrounding municipalities like Sussex cannot annex town lands and that the town elected officials have autonomy over its land use and planning decision. Presently, town land use and zoning decisions must also be approved by Waukesha County authorities and the town is subject to county land use restrictions.

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Lisbon citizens ready to file for incorporation

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Dec. 15, 2010

Town of Lisbon —The Town Board maintained its arm's-length relationship with Lisbon-Inc.org Monday even though the citizens group appears to be on the verge of filing a petition with the state seeking incorporation of the town into a village.

Town supervisors took no action on a request from the group that town officials draft a letter of support to include in the 152-page incorporation petition slated to be filed with state authorities later this month.

The Town Board is also expected to take no immediate action on another request from the group asking town officials to send letters to neighboring communities requesting they either support incorporation, or remain neutral, during hearings that may be conducted next year.

Chairman Matt Gehrke said town officials might send the letter to neighboring communities when the citizens group has successfully raised the $25,000 filing fee that must be submitted to the state.

Earlier this month, representatives of Lisbon-Inc.org told a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge that $13,000 of the fee had been raised through private donations and they expected to raise the remaining $12,000 by Jan. 15, a deadline set by Judge Donald J. Hassin Jr.

Landry and Denise Wenger, another of the group's founders, made the requests to the board Monday night and later emphasized they are still in the midst of a campaign to raise the funds for the fee.

Wenger and Landry said they anticipate filing the petition by year's end.

So far, Town Board members have refused to allow town funds or other town resources to be used in the incorporation process, even though a majority of board members have indicated they support the measure.

Gehrke said a resolution passed by the board earlier this year expressed support but did not specifically endorse the Lisbon-Inc.org campaign.

Gehrke and a majority of town supervisors have said town government should not become involved in the campaign unless town officials have some assurances that the state Incorporation Review Board is likely to approve the petition and recommended that the Circuit Court order the town to set a date for a referendum.

Proponents of incorporation have argued that if the community becomes a village, elected and appointed officials can establish local land-use policies and zoning codes without seeking the approval of Waukesha County. Incorporation would also protect town lands from being annexed by nearby cities and villages and would put Lisbon community government on an equal status with surrounding communities.

During Monday night's board meeting, Landry also pointed out that if the town became a village, bordering communities would no longer have the power to review, and in some cases block, the development of land in the town near those communities' borders.

Whether the bordering communities would support incorporation appears problematic. The Village of Menomonee Falls has passed an ordinance requiring the two communities to establish a joint committee to review the town's plans for land use, zoning and possible development of lands bordering the village. The committee was established by both boards but hasn't met in months.

Village of Sussex officials are privately expressing reservations about Lisbon's incorporation, although a border agreement between the communities says the village will not oppose the effort providing the two communities are engaged in discussions about sharing services. The village is reportedly gathering evidence indicating the village is providing, without reimbursement, services to Lisbon residents.

During court hearings earlier this year, Sussex Village Attorney Stanley Riffle successfully forced a delay in the filing of the petitions, which had to be revised by the citizens group in order to win approval from the judge. Riffle also succeeded earlier this month in persuading the judge to establish the Jan. 15 deadline for submitting the $25,000 filing fee.

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City of Pewaukee to process Lisbon citations

By Joe Trovato

Posted: Dec. 27, 2010

The Town of Lisbon will receive assistance from the City of Pewaukee for its municipal citation services after the Common Council voted to take on the extra work on a contract basis at its Dec. 20 meeting.

The Common Council voted 6-1 in favor of providing the services for the town, with Alderwoman Cheri Enters casting the lone vote against the measure.

City Administrator Tammy Laborde said the contract would authorize the city's police/courts clerk to process about 100 citations per month from the Town of Lisbon, although she noted that the city would be allowed to back out of the agreement if citations exceeded the 100 citation threshold or if the agreement simply became too overwhelming for the city to handle efficiently. Even with the extra work, the city would not be forced to hire additional staff to provide the services.

The city will charge $20 per hour to process the computerized citations, versus the $29 an hour fee that the Village of Sussex sought to impose for the same services.

Enters voiced concerns about taking on the contract in the midst of merger talks between the Village and the City of Pewaukee as well as the possible incorporation of the Town of Lisbon into a village, but Mayor Scott Klein dismissed those concerns by saying that those issues had no bearing or effect on the contracted services.

"I just see this as one of those things that communities can do cooperatively together," the mayor said.

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Lisbon incorporation debate begins

Citizen group files petitions seeking state review

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Dec. 27, 2010

Town of Lisbon —The petition filed last week by Lisbon-Inc.org seeking the incorporation of the Town into a village will trigger a chain reaction of events that will eventually determine the future governance of the community.

"It is an historic document because we believe it is the first time that a petition to incorporate has been filed with the state by a group of citizens rather than the town government. This represents the wishes of the people of the community. We want to put Lisbon on the map as the Village of Lisbon," said Denise Wenger, one of the three founders of citizens group that raised the $25,000 filing fee necessary to submit the petition to the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

However, Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said the Town Board will maintain its arms-length relationship with the incorporation campaign. He said town supervisors support incorporation but are not prepared to invest local government money or resources in the effort. He said the board will discuss the incorporation its Jan. 10 meeting.

Meanwhile, Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski in an interview with Lake Country Publications asserted that the village is providing a disproportionate amount of government services to residents of the town and questioned whether the town could provide the level of services required of a village by state law.

"I would welcome the Town of Lisbon becoming a village because that would mean they would have provide services that the state requires of a village and that would good for both Sussex and Lisbon," Lapcinski said.

Lapcinski hinted that the village may no longer be obligated under a border agreement not to object to the incorporation of the town. According to the agreement, the town must complete joint planning and service agreement requirements with the village.

"That is not happening," Lapcinski said.

As a result of the submission of the petitions on Dec. 21, the Department of Administration staff will begin preparing the Incorporation Review Board for a hearing sometime within the next six months. The review board will accept evidence, and possibly testimony, about whether the town meets the criteria to become a village as defined by state law and whether the incorporation of the town into a village would adversely affect surrounding municipalities and the greater metropolitan community surrounding the territories proposed to be a village.

If the review board rules in favor of incorporation, a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge will order a special election where voters in the town will make the final determination whether to become a village.

Lisbon-Inc.org will continue its fundraising efforts to defray the costs of attorneys and other consultants necessary in order to participate in the incorporation process, according to Wenger.

The process is not an inexpensive one. The Town of Richmond spent in excess of $100,000 to win incorporation as a village about three years ago.

Wenger is optimistic the costs may be lower for Lisbon-Inc.org because they have been able to gather much of the necessary data and documentation for the petition through volunteer efforts. In addition, the three founders of the group, Wenger and former Town Supervisors Robert Williams and Wendy Landry, are knowledgeable about local government and have to rely less on outside consultants, Wenger added.

It is unclear when - or whether - the Town Board will have to decide if it wants to play a greater role in the incorporation effort.

The board may discuss next month the citizen group's request that it send letters to neighboring municipalities asking that they either support the incorporation or remain neutral during the incorporation review process.

It is a letter that may not be warmly received in at least two communities, the Village of Sussex and Menomonee Falls.

Officials in Menomonee Falls have complained that the town is not adequately complying with its own land use plan and zoning codes along the border between the communities. A joint committee has been created between the two communities in an effort to work out the zoning controversies but the committee has seldom met. If Lisbon was incorporated into a village, the Menomonee Falls could not impose its power to review future development projects along the border with the town.

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Opposition mounting to Lisbon incorporation

Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls likely to object to Lisbon becoming a village

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Jan. 17, 2011

Town of Lisbon —There are indications that the Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls will likely oppose a citizens group's effort to convince state officials to incorporate Lisbon into a village.

Attorney Stanley Riffle, who represents both municipalities, said Menomonee Falls officials will object to the incorporation because it would interfere with the village's efforts to negotiate an agreement with the town regarding the future use of lands that border the two communities.

Riffle said he has not discussed with Sussex officials whether they want to take a position on the incorporation petition filed by Lisbon-inc.org.

Sussex and Menomonee Falls have both been granted status by the Wisconsin Department of Administration as intervenors in the incorporation process, which will include public hearings expected to be scheduled sometime in March, according to department spokesman Eric Schmidtke.

As intervenors, the villages will be able to submit evidence and present testimony to the Incorporation Review Board, according to Schmidtke.

Riffle suggested there is not much difference between the role of an intervenor objecting to an incorporation petition and an intervenor who remains neutral.

"The role of the intervenor is the same, regardless. You are trying to provide information to the Incorporation Review Board regarding whether the petition meets the standards for incorporation provided by the state statutes," Riffle said.

Schmidtke acknowledged that it is not unprecedented for an incorporation petition to be granted by state authorities despite objections by a neighboring community.

However, since the creation of the Incorporation Review Board in 2003, the three communities that were granted incorporation had reached agreements with neighboring communities regarding the incorporation petition before filing the documents with state and circuit court officials. Riffle represented two of those communities, the Towns of Richfield and Summit.

According to Sussex officials, Riffle told them on several occasions that Lisbon town officials should have secured agreements with neighboring communities before the citizens group filed the petition.

Sussex Village President Tony Lapcinski said after a Jan. 11 Village Board meeting that the board would meet in closed session soon with Riffle. Riffle would outline to the board its options regarding the incorporation petition, and the board would then decide whether to take a position on the citizens' efforts to upgrade Lisbon to a village.

Lapcinski added that evidence gathered by the village staff questioning the Town of Lisbon's ability to provide its residents with adequate services will be turned over to Riffle. One of the issues that will be considered by the state Incorporation Review Board is whether Lisbon can provide its residents with services comparable to what Sussex would provide, if Lisbon were to become a village.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said he was "not happy" about the prospects of Sussex challenging the incorporation effort.

On a 4-1 vote last week, the Lisbon Town Board agreed that Gehrke would begin to lobby neighboring municipalities not to oppose the incorporation effort.

Gehrke said the board will become more active in the incorporation process since the citizens group has been able to gather the signatures for the incorporation petition, has had it approved by the Waukesha County Circuit Court and submitted the request to the state agency.

However, Supervisor Dan Fischer argued that the board should continue to maintain an arm's-length relationship with the citizens group.

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The long road to incorporation

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Jan. 24, 2011

Lisbon Town Supervisor Dan Fischer said most people don't care about it. Yet about a hundred people showed up at a recent meeting in Okauchee to discuss it.

Mukwonago Town Chairman Dave Dubey said it isn't necessary in his community. But in Pewaukee, Summit and Richfield, voters overwhelmingly approved it.

"It" is incorporation, the complex process by which a town government, neighborhood or community petitions the state to be incorporated as a village or city.

Incorporation petitions approved by the state are later subject to voter approval in local referendums.

Lake Country has been a hotbed of incorporation in recent years. Three of the four most recent incorporations granted by the state and approved by voters were all in or near Lake Country.

The Town of Pewaukee's petition to become a city was approved by voters in 1998. Petitions in the last couple of years from the Town of Richfield, in nearby Washington County, and the Town of Summit were among the first to be approved by an Incorporation Review Board that was established in 2003 by the state Legislature.

There are two new incorporation proposals pending in Lake Country. A citizens group, Lisbon-Inc.org., has submitted a petition to incorporate the Town of Lisbon into a village and is waiting for the Wisconsin Department Administration to schedule a hearing before the Incorporation Review Board.

Leaders of the effort say they want the town incorporated into a village to protect its borders against annexation by nearby cities and villages, give elected representatives in the community autonomy in making land-use and zoning decisions and establish an identity for the community.

Another citizens group of Okauchee residents is mounting a campaign for the incorporation of territory surrounding Okauchee Lake into a village. They have established the website, okaucheeinc.com to help get the message out and educate others about their effort. The incorporation would require the new community to split off from the Town of Oconomowoc. The new village boundaries would include Highway 16 on the south, Highway K to the north, Highway C on the east, and Highway P and the Oconomowoc city limits on the west.

Leaders of the group say it could be months before they file their petition because they want to secure agreements that will enable the newly created village to pay neighboring communities to provide essential services to residents of a potential Village of Okauchee Lake. Nearly 100 lake area residents attended a meeting earlier this year to discuss incorporation issues.

Oconomowoc Town Chairman Robert Hultquist said his Town Board is likely to oppose the Okauchee Lake incorporation. According to Hultquist, neither the Town of Oconomowoc or the Town of Merton are likely to willing to provide services to a Village of Okauchee.

During the 1970s, residents in both Okauchee and Lisbon submitted incorporation petitions, which were approved by the state but rejected by voters in local referendums.

Why incorporate?

Cities and villages have greater governing powers than towns. According to the state Constitution, cities and villages have "home rule" powers, which mean they can exercise any authority not specifically prohibited by either state law or the state Constitution.

Towns have very limited powers - only those specifically granted by state law or the Constitution.

Most town land-use and zoning decisions must be approved by county government and occasionally nearby cities and villages. Cities and villages can also annex town lands.

"The reasons for incorporation can be as unique as the petitions that are submitted," said Eric Schmidtke of the state Department of Administration. "They may be seeking incorporation to protect their borders from annexation by a city or village. They make seek incorporation in order to have more say over their land-use decisions. They may seek incorporation because they want their community to have more of an identity."

Opponents of incorporation say it is likely to add another layer of municipal government, which results in increased local taxes as well as diluting the tax base and authority of bordering cities and villages that are already providing services to residents within the proposed incorporation boundaries.

Does anyone care?

Incorporation can be the epitome of "inside baseball" discussions among local government junkies, not often a subject of heated debate among most community residents.

"Most people don't care about it. The only time they think about it is when there is a referendum, and then all most voters want to know is 'how much is going to cost me?' " according to Lisbon Town Supervisor Dan Fischer.

Incorporation petitions are also often the result of a town's worries over the possibility of losing land to annexation to neighboring villages or cities the town doesn't get along with.

"It is never discussed here," said Mukwonago Town Chairman Dave Dubey, who said there are good relations between the Town of Mukwonago and the Village of Mukwonago. The two have a border agreement that defines each other's borders.

"We don't need it (incorporation) here; we get along," he added.

Incorporation requirements

The process is complicated and expensive, according to Harlan Clinkenbeard, veteran City of Pewaukee planner, because the Incorporation Review Board is responsible for determining whether each petition meets six standards established by state law.

According to those standards, the territory defined in the petition must be reasonably compact and homogeneous.

Within designated areas of the territory, there must be a likelihood of economic development in the near future.

Within the territory, there must be an ability to raise tax revenues sufficient to meet the cost of providing services. Those services must be provided at a level that meets the needs of the citizens within the territory proposed to be a city or village.

The incorporation must not have a detrimental impact on surrounding communities and municipalities. The proposed incorporation impact on the greater metropolitan area must also be weighed by the review board.

"What makes it complicated is that the Legislature tried to pass a law that fits all communities. But communities are like snowflakes, no two of them are the same," Clinkenbeard said.

Officials in Richfield and Summit estimated it costs between $125,000 and $150,000 to research, draft and present a petition to the review board. Those costs include fees for consulting engineers, lawyers and researchers, but not the work of the municipal staffs.

"You have to be able to document to the review board how your petition meets each of those state standards. It requires a lot of research. You have to be careful it is factual and not opinions, and it is accurate. It (the petition) is going to be reviewed by other municipalities and state agencies. It requires a lot of mapping, which means engineering time, and you are going to have lawyers drawing up agreements before the petition is presented to the review board," explained Henry Elling, planner-administrator for the Village of Summit.

Another key to success, according to Clinkenbeard, is persuading surrounding cities and villages to go along with a community's petition. That could be one of the biggest challenges facing the Lisbon and Okauchee incorporations, effort since it appears both are likely to be contested by neighboring cities and villages.

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Lisbon-Sussex police agreement near

Communities will share the cost of late-shift deputy

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Jan. 31, 2011

Town of Lisbon —Town Chairman Matt Gehrke anticipates an agreement over police services will be reached by the end of the year, providing the Town of Lisbon and Village of Sussex share in the cost of a Waukesha County Sheriff's Department deputy serving the two communities during the midnight shift.

Gehrke did not rule out the possibility that the agreement could be implemented later this year. However, that would require the Town Board to either amend the 2011 budget or find surplus funds in order to share the cost of the deputy. Gehrke acknowledged that the town might have underfunded its law-enforcement needs in the 2011 budget.

In a letter to Village President Tony Lapcinski, Gehrke said the town would consider paying half of the salary and expenses of one of the two existing midnight shift deputies assigned to the village as part of a police service contract with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

"I certainly know that both the Lisbon and Sussex boards desire to provide our residents the services that they need and desire at the most reasonable total cost. Furthermore, the cost of these desired services should be equitably distributed among the communities receiving the benefit," Gehrke said in the letter.

Sheriff Dan Trawicki apparently proposed the agreement during a private meeting with Gehrke and Lapcinski held after Sussex village trustees two weeks ago ripped town officials for the disproportionate number of times deputies assigned to the village were responding to emergency calls in the town.

According to village officials, their deputies responded to 216 more calls in the Town of Lisbon than Lisbon deputies responded to calls in the village during the first half of 2010.

The agreement comes as the state's Incorporation Review Board is preparing for a March hearing on a petition by a citizens group, Lisbon-inc.org, to incorporate the town into a village. One of the likely issues the review board will consider is whether the town, if incorporated as a village, could provide its residents with a similar level of service as provided by the Village of Sussex.

The village pays about $1.4 million annually for 11 deputies providing 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage in the village, while the town spends about $430,000 for two deputies, each serving an eight-hour shift patrolling the town.

Trawicki appeared at the Jan. 23 Town Board meeting to urge town officials to work cooperatively with village officials in providing regional law enforcement services because "it is good for the residents of the town, it is good for the residents of the village, and it is good for the county."

Trawicki reminded the town supervisors that the county had invested about a half million dollars in building a sheriff's substation in the Village of Sussex Public Safety Building that was intended to improve regional law enforcement services. The substation serves as a headquarters for the deputies who are assigned to the Lisbon, Sussex and Village of Merton police service contracts.

Trawicki reiterated a pledge he made three years ago to town officials that they would not be expected to pay any costs related to the operation of the building for at least 10 years. However, he noted, a full-time Village of Sussex civilian employee working in the substation has been providing assistance to residents of the town and the Village of Merton without the two communities contributing to the salary of the employee.

He noted that the Village of Merton had agreed to pay an additional $7,000 for Lt. James Gumm's direct supervision of the Merton deputy on duty. Gumm is stationed out of the Sussex office. In addition, Trawicki pointed out, the village and Town of Merton had agreed to contract with Sussex to process traffic tickets and municipal citations, which provided another source of revenue for the village to offset some of its operating cost of the substation.

Meanwhile, the town opted to have the City of Pewaukee process tickets at a lower hourly cost than offered by Sussex.

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Lisbon board backs incorporation now

Town changes policy during a closed meeting

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Jan. 31, 2011

Town of Lisbon —The Town Board decided during a two-hour closed session last week to take "all reasonable steps necessary" to "actively" support a petition filed by the citizens' group Lisbon-inc.org with the state Incorporation Review Board seeking to have the town incorporated into a village.

A motion implementing the private discussions was adopted during a brief public session after the closed meeting. Supervisor Dan Fischer cast the only dissenting vote, according to Town Administrator Jeff Musche.

Fischer said later that he did not believe any town resources should be used to support the incorporation effort unless town officials were assured the effort would be successful.

Officials in Pewaukee, Summit and Richfield reported those towns spent in excess of $100,000 to successfully complete the complex incorporation process which requires court hearings, an incorporation review board hearing, and a local referendum.

Fischer said he would have supported a motion instructing Town Attorney Kathy Gutenkunst to take steps necessary to protect the town's border agreement with Sussex during the incorporation process, but he believed the motion the board adopted during a Jan. 24 meeting was too broad and involved the town too much in the incorporation effort.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said after meeting, "I don't want to say much about the meeting because it was a closed session. We had already passed a resolution supporting incorporation. The board felt it was time for us to become more involved. I don't think we are talking about a lot of money. Most of the expenses have already been paid for by private donations raised by the citizens group."

Late last year, the board adopted a resolution supporting incorporation, but Gehrke said at the that the resolution did not specifically endorse the Lisbon-Inc.org effort and the town was not prepared to commit public funds and resources to the project.

Two weeks ago, the board agreed to allow Gehrke and Musche to draft a letter to surrounding municipalities urging them to either support the incorporation petition or remain neutral during an Incorporation Review Board hearing tentatively scheduled for March 16. No one on the board disputed Fischer when he said the town was not prepared to spend public funds on the effort.

The Town Board likely violated the state's open meetings law when it stopped discussing legal strategy pertaining to the incorporation and began discussing in closed session the policy question of whether the town should become more involved in the incorporation effort, according to Robert Dreps, an attorney for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

"The purpose of that exemption to the open meeting law is to allow a lawyer to confer privately with a municipal client when there is litigation. The law does not permit a discussion of legal strategy to morph into a policy discussion; that should be held in an open session," according to Dreps.

Dreps said the town may have also violated laws relating to the agenda and public notice of board meetings because the agenda did not indicate there was going to be a discussion about the board's policy regarding incorporation.

"Anyone in the town who was interested in the town's policy on incorporation and was entitled to hear the board's discussion would have had no idea it was going to be discussed based on the public notice of that meeting," he added.

Gehrke said he thought the town acted properly during the closed session because it involved a discussion of legal strategy.

"I have confidence in Jeff and Kathy that we were doing the right thing," he added.

Dreps also questioned the legality of a closed session held Tuesday night, Jan. 25, by the Sussex Village Board. Village trustees met with lawyers John Macy and Stan Riffle to discuss legal strategy pertaining to the village's role as an intervenor in the incorporation hearing.

Dreps said the law is unclear whether an Incorporation Review Board hearing can be considered "litigation." He said the law permits closed sessions between lawyers and municipalities only in the case of pending or likely litigation involving the municipality.

Riffle said he is was entitled to meet privately with the village because he was offering confidential legal advice regarding the review board hearing and other legal issues, which he would not discuss, related to the incorporation petition that could be litigated.

There is a dispute among town and village officials regarding a border agreement between the communities. Lisbon officials think the border agreement prevents the Village of Sussex from objecting to the town becoming a village. Village officials say that a portion of the agreement is conditional on the town upholding its end of the bargain relating to sharing services with the village, which village officials say has not happened.

RobertaF - Jan 31, 2011 10:49 PM

Stupid. This isn't about the townfolk who want to live peaceful lives. This is about the town power structure past and present gaining more control to provide unwanted services and unnecessary taxing authority.

I will be voting out the current leadership based on this decision in a "closed" session.

In the end, the petition will fail because Lisbon offers nothing that justifies the incorporation, except it'll cost the citizens money now that the town board will likely offer legal resources and thus town money to support this cause.

It would have been better for the incorporation group to actual go out into the community to get the opinions of the citizens rather than only getting the signatures of known "yes" votes. None of my neighbors in my neighborhood were much aware of this action as no mailing were made informing us of the incorporation nor did anyone come to our doors to discuss or try to gain our support this action. Again, the interests are not with the citizens so I will also be voting the current power out come April and lobbying the state to reject this movement.

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Town undecided about incorporation hearing

Sussex and Menomonee Falls are parties in March 16 hearing, but not Lisbon

By Kelly Smith

Posted: Feb. 14, 2011

Town of Lisbon —Town of Lisbon - Town officials have not decided what testimony or information they may provide the state Incorporation Review Board when it conducts its hearing on a petition filed by Lisbon-Inc.org seeking to have the community form of government elevated from a town to a village. The hearing is set to take place at 3 p.m. March 15 in the Richard Yung Fire Station on Richmond Road.

The Town Board decided during a closed session last month to "take all reasonable steps" to "actively" support the incorporation petition filed by the citizens' group; but Town Clerk Jeff Musche and Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said last week they have not yet decided what form that support may take during the hearings where the citizens' group is expected to present its case for the town becoming a village.

The Village of Menomonee Falls plans to oppose the petition because it is concerned about what impact incorporation would have on the village's ability to protect its land use plans along the border between the communities. Last year, the Sussex Village Board adopted a resolution indicating it was willing to annex the territories within the existing town borders which automatically requires the review board to consider whether the residents in the town would be as well served by a Village of Lisbon as they would be if they were annexed by the Village of Sussex, according to attorney Stanley Riffle, who represents both Menomonee Falls and Sussex.

The two villages, along with Lisbon-Inc.org, will be considered as parties in the hearings, but not the Town of Lisbon. Town officials opted not to participate in a series of Waukesha County Circuit Court hearings last year the determined that Lisbon-Inc.org had met state requirements in developing the 350 page petition.

The Incorporation Review Board will determine whether the information in the petition shows the town can meet the state standards for being incorporated into a village. If the review board supports the petition, a referendum will be conducted on whether the town should become a village.

If town officials had wanted to be a party in the hearing, they should have appeared as intervenors in the circuit court hearing, according to Wisconsin Department of Administration officials.

"Because the Town of Lisbon did not appear at the circuit court hearing, they are not an intervenor, or party to the case like Sussex and Menomonee Falls. However, they may nonetheless appear at the public hearing to present comments to the board or to provide written materials and testimony, just like any other interested citizens, business or neighboring municipality," said Eric Schmidtke, a spokesperson for the Department of Administration, in an email to Lake Country Publications.

The citizen group wants to upgrade Lisbon's form of government from a town to a village in order to protect the community's borders from annexation by surrounding villages and cities, provide elected officials autonomy in making zoning and land use decisions, and provide an identify for the community.

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Lisbon incorporation hearing begins at 3 p.m.

Posted: March 9, 2011

Town of Lisbon – The Wisconsin Incorporation Review Board will begin its March 16 hearing in the Town of Lisbon at 3 p.m. rather than 1 p.m. The Wisconsin Department of Administration said information in the board’s published agenda indicating the meeting would start a 1 p.m. is incorrect.

The board will be conducting a hearing expected to last about three hours on a petition to incorporate the Town of Lisbon to a village. The petition was filed by a citizen’s group Lisbon-Inc. org. It appears likely the petition will be challenged by a lawyer representing the Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls. Both share borders with the Town of Lisbon.

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Incorporation hearing set for Wednesday

Services may be a key issue in incorporation hearing

By Kelly Smith

Posted: March 14, 2011

Town of Lisbon —A pledge in the latest edition of the town government newsletter is likely to be linked to a key issue during next week's state incorporation review board hearing. The hearing is about a petition filed by a citizen's group seeking to have the community's form of government upgraded from a town to a village. It will begin at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16 at the Richard Jung Fire Station.

"Lisbon already offers the level of services that are needed to qualify as a village and therefore transforming into a village will not result in increased taxes," according to the Spring 2011 edition of the Town of Lisbon Gazette.

"Taxes and service levels will not be changed by becoming a village and may even decrease," according to a newsletter article advocating incorporation that was mailed to town property owners last week.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke, who wrote the article, said the pledge is intended to address the concerns of town residents who may believe that incorporation will result in higher taxes. Gehrke said there will not be any increases in taxes as a result of incorporation.

However, an attorney for the villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls is likely to challenge during the hearing the contention that Lisbon is providing its residents with a level of service required of villages.

Attorney Stanley Riffle is expected to point out that much of the police protection that town residents receive after midnight is provided by the Village of Sussex. Village Administrator Jeremy Smith hinted there may be other issues raised during the hearing related to the amount of municipal services that the village is providing town residents.

Gehrke rebutted that providing increased police patrols during the midnight shift is likely to occur regardless of whether the town the becomes a village.

The Sussex Village Board was expected to meet behind closed doors Monday to discuss with Riffle his strategy for the hearing.

Riffle will be given an hour to outline his opposition to the incorporation or raised questions with the board regarding whether the town has met the standards established by state.

The citizen's group Lisbon-Inc. org will be given an hour and a half to convince the board that the village can meet the six standards required for incorporation. The board is also expected to take public testimony including presentations from town officials. The hearing is scheduled to last about five hours and the board is not expected to reach a decision after the meeting.

The board is also expected to take testimony from citizens and elected officials.

If the board rules in favor of the citizens group, the board will recommend the Waukesha County Circuit Court order a referendum so voters will have the last word on whether the town should be incorporated as a village.

However, the board could also reject the petition or reject it with the condition that the citizens group file an amended petition.

The standards that must be met include the territory to be incorporated must be compact and homogenous and there must be a likelihood of economic development in the near future within designated areas of the newly created village. The newly created village must also have a tax base large enough to raise tax revenue sufficient to provide services to its residents and those services must be provided at a level that meets the needs of the citizens.

The incorporation must not have a detrimental impact on surrounding communities and municipalities and the impact of the proposed incorporation on the greater metropolitan areas must also be weighed by the review board.

The proponents also argue that if the town becomes a village it will be able to establish a land-use plan and a zoning code that is not subject to review by Waukesha County officials as well as abutting cities and villages.

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Hearing held on Lisbon’s status as a village Blog Post | Posted: March 18, 2011 By Kelly Smith

Town of Lisbon – A voice from the past spoke out in support of incorporation for the Town of Lisbon last week and rebutted arguments by a Sussex village attorney that the town was not qualified or adequately prepared to become a village. Former Town Chairman

http://www.livinglakecountry.com/lakecountryreporter/118255524.html

Above not online!

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Village neutral on Lisbon incorporation

Some trustees say open land could come into village

By Jim Stevens

Posted: March 21, 2011

Village of Pewaukee —The Village Board will stay mum on the proposed incorporation on the Town of Lisbon.

The town is seeking to secure its borders by incorporating into a village. An incorporation review hearing was held Wednesday between state and town officials. (See that story elsewhere in this issue.)

While the village has not annexed any land from the town and has not received any such requests, board members said they did not want to lose their flexibility to do so.

The two communities share a border in the area of Hawthorne Hills and The Oaks subdivisions, both off Lindsay Road. North of Hawthorne Hills is a subdivision, but north of the Oaks is open land. With the remaining portion of the village surrounded by the City of Pewaukee, the land north of The Oaks is the only area where the village could possibly expand.

"We would lose flexibility," said Trustee Joe Zompa. "It's not in the interest of the community to do that."

Zompa said the land in Lisbon could be useful to the village to expand its tax base.

Trustee Tom Calder said it would be easier to work out an agreement with Lisbon to sell the community water. Zompa asked what the upside to that would be.

"Being a friendly neighbor," said Calder.

Trustee John Laimon said it would be better to sell water to Lisbon to serve that area rather than annex it. Otherwise the village would have two school districts in its community, and in order to break even with services, homes in the subdivision would have to cost at least $275,000; Laimon does not think that would happen.

In the end, the board did not take a formal stance.

The Delafield Town Board last week voted to support the incorporation of the town. The Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls are opposed to the incorporation.

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Volunteers help cut cost of hearing

About 100 citizens, officials attend incorporation hearing

By Kelly Smith

Posted: March 21, 2011

Town of Lisbon —Lisbon-Inc.org, the citizens group spearheading the effort to incorporate the town into a village, has apparently debunked conventional wisdom that it costs at least $100,000 to prepare a credible case to the state Incorporation Review Board to upgrade a town government to a village.

The Towns of Pewaukee and Summit in Waukesha County, and the Town of Richfield in Washington County, all reported that their costs to prepare for the incorporation review process exceeded $100,000 in lawyers, engineering and consultant fees necessary to accumulate the evidence, package it into a proposal, and present it to reviewing authorities.

The potential costs of seeking incorporation - and the risks of being rejected - were among the primary reasons that the Lisbon Town Board did not play a leading role in the incorporation effort.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke and the supervisors were concerned that taxpayers would not favor spending that much money in public funds on incorporation unless the board had assurances the incorporation would succeed.

Denise Wenger, one of the founders of Lisbon-Inc.org, said repeatedly during the past year that she was confident a case could made for incorporation at considerably less cost because she and the other leaders of the group - former Supervisor Bob Williams and Wendy Landry - were all well-versed in the operations of local government and what was required to put together a successful proposal.

Apparently, they succeeded.

"We are used to presentations that have been put together by lawyers, engineers and consultants. This one is just as good as any we have seen," said Incorporation Review Board member Rich Eggleston in a break during last week's hearing at the Richard Jung Fire Station.

Wenger, Williams and attorney Michael Krill made an approximately one-hour-long presentation that brought to life the 150-page submittal to the board that provided details of the town's geography, demographics and governmental structure and explained why they thought the town met the qualifications to became a village.

"If we total up all of the volunteer hours, it might have been close to $100,000, but in actual costs, we may be about $35,000, " Williams said, noting that the Village of Sussex will probably pay more in legal and engineering fees trying to block the incorporation than the town spent supporting it.

Town officials offered an approximately 30-minute presentation in support of Lisbon-Inc.org's petition.

Attorney Stanley Riffle, who represented the Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Fall, argued that the review board should rule the town does not qualify as village based on previous decisions made by the Wisconsin Department of Administration before the Incorporation Review Board was created in 2003.

By the time the hearing ended a few minutes before 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, about 100 people had packed the Fire Station training room, including elected officials and lawyers from other municipalities, a state legislator, and 39 town residents and business owners who spoke during the five-hour hearing, all but two of them in support of the town becoming a village.

"I hope I don't get hung saying this, but I don't think Lisbon is ready to be a village," said Donna Zimmerman, a former town assessor.

"These people (Lisbon-Inc. org) are wonderful, they have worked hard, but my gut feeling is we are better off being a township," she added.

"One of the reasons I have opposed incorporation is because it was not brought forward by the Town Board. Three individuals are proposing incorporation because they did not agree with the town land-use plan as adopted by the board," said Sherry Howard.

"We are not just three individuals; we are also the 125 citizens who signed the petition seeking incorporation," rebutted Wenger.

The five-member incorporation board got a taste of the tension between the town and the Village of Sussex during the hearing.

"I have been involved in the Hatfield and McCoys for years," said former Town Supervisor Ron Evert, whose father served on Village Board. "We have good people in Sussex and Lisbon. We get along together. But when it comes to politics, it doesn't work."

Evert urged the board to allow Lisbon to become a village so the balance of power between the communities could be equal.

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Lisbon, Sussex clash at incorporation hearing

Former town chairman rebuts village attorney

By Kelly Smith

Posted: March 21, 2011

VOICE FROM THE PAST – Former Town of Lisbon Chairman Gerald Schmitz was one of 39 town residents who testified during the five hour state Incorporation Review Board hearing on Wednesday, March 16. Schmitz rebutted arguements by Sussex Village Attorney Stanley Riffle that the town did not meet state standards for becoming a village. Schmitz pointed out that the population, geography, and services provided by the town of Lisbon are similar to those of the Village of Richfield which Riffle represented in its successfull efforts to be incorporated from a town to a village.

Town of Lisbon — A voice from the past spoke out in support of incorporation for the Town of Lisbon last week and rebutted arguments by a Sussex village attorney that the town was not qualified or adequately prepared to become a village.

Former Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz, who served on the Town Board from 1997 to 2007, described to the state Incorporation Review Board some of the town's efforts in the past decade to prepare itself to be a village and reach agreements with surrounding communities for sharing municipal services and respecting each others borders.

"I cannot emphasize enough that the Town of Lisbon deserves to be a village. It has been providing its residents with some of the services as if it were a village," Schmitz said

Schmitz, who was one of five Town Board incumbents swept out of office in the 2007 and 2009 municipal elections, was among 37 town residents and business owners who voiced support for incorporation during the five-hour hearing at the Richard Jung Fire Station on Wednesday, March 16.

The Incorporation Review Board, which was created in 2003 to hear incorporation cases presented to the state on behalf of town governments, is expected to deliberate at its May 24 meeting in Madison and issue its findings by June. If the board rules in favor of incorporation, there will be a town referendum to determine whether the community should become a village.

The Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls - both represented at the hearing by incorporation law expert Stanley Riffle - opposed the incorporation petition filed by the citizens group Lisbon-Inc.org, whose leaders - Denise Wenger, Robert Williams and Wendy Landry - have spearheaded the attempt to have the town's local government upgraded to village status.

Riffle argued that the town should have gained the support of the two villages before it sought incorporation.

He asserted that the town lacks the population density, does have not meet future development requirements, and lacks the urban character required by state law to become a village. He noted that existing town codes and future development plans favor 1-acre residential lots.

"They are not planning to be a village. They are planning to be 1-acre, rural/urban sprawl," he argued.

In addition, he said the town's tax rates and ability to deliver municipal service are not comparable with the surrounding villages. He added the town was not "reasonably homogenous and compact" enough to qualify as a village.

Riffle asserted that the town was geographically separated into four different sections and is a divided community because it is served by multiple school districts, including two high schools.

During his rebuttal, Schmitz turned from the podium and stared at Riffle.

"Stan, you have your lines wrong," Schmitz concluded.

Schmitz then rattled off the names of about half-dozen communities in Lake Country that are served by multiple school districts and two or more high schools.

He noted that one of the reasons there is some geographical division in the town is because of the existence of stone quarries that economically help support the town and serve businesses throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. He said the town held numerous meetings with the Village of Sussex over the prospects of the two communities sharing services, but the meetings eventually became unproductive.

Schmitz added that the population density and the homogeneity and compactness of the Town of Lisbon is similar to the former Town of Richfield in Washington County. Riffle represented Richfield in its successful effort to be incorporated as a village.

"There is not that much difference between Richfield and Lisbon," argued Schmitz.

Earlier in the hearing, Williams, an engineer and former town supervisor, outlined a formula that he argued illustrated the town did meet the state density requirements for a village.

"We determined that with an average of 52.5 housing units per quarter section in the territory based on the most densely population section (of the town), Lisbon meets the density stand an average of more than 30 housing units (beyond the most dense section of the town)," Williams told the review board.

"During the last decade we have become a metropolitan suburban community," added Wenger, a former Plan Commission member.

However, she said "we do not anticipate village status to affect our taxes and services." She said

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Less is a blessing for Lisbon

Posted: March 22, 2011

There is some good news on the Lisbon incorporation front - so far, the feared $100,000 price tag is coming in at only $35,000.

Lisbon-Inc.org reports that due to using volunteer labor it has been able to spend considerably less than what its peers did turning a town into a village. That is welcome news by everyone, especially this private organization.

We'll take that news with a larger grain of salt at this point, however, because one of the biggest costs in this venture tends to be litigation, which usually does not occur until the end of the process, but so far so good.

Of course, it will be later this spring when a decision is made to formally proceed with incorporation, a move that would, from a legal standpoint, put Lisbon on equal footing with its oft-times rival, Sussex. It would also seal the borders with Lisbon's other neighbors who have been much more benign as neighbors, but still might conceivably have designs on acquiring Lisbon territory in the future.

We remain convinced that a combined Sussex and Lisbon government is the smartest route to efficient government, particularly in light of diminished aid from Madison, which is going to force many communities to do more with less and mean that shared services won't be lip service, but a necessity.

But Lisbon's biggest obstacle up until now has been a seat at the table. State law makes towns second-class citizens. What incorporation will do, and what the mere threat of incorporation will do, is give Lisbon an equal stature at the bargaining table.

Most people in Waukesha County are in favor of less government. It's sad that it takes creating more government to get less someday, but if that is what it takes, so be it.

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Reed: Dissolve Lisbon

Former town chairman urges state to deny Lisbon incorporation

By Kelly Smith

Posted: April 12, 2011

VOICE FROM THE PAST – Former Town of Lisbon Chairman Gerald Schmitz was one of 39 town residents who testified during the five hour state Incorporation Review Board hearing on Wednesday, March 16. Schmitz rebutted arguements by Sussex Village Attorney Stanley Riffle that the town did not meet state standards for becoming a village. Schmitz pointed out that the population, geography, and services provided by the town of Lisbon are similar to those of the Village of Richfield which Riffle represented in its successfull efforts to be incorporated from a town to a village.

Town of Lisbon — In a seven-page letter to the state Incorporation Review Board, former Town Chairman Mike Reed urged the board to deny a petition to incorporate the town into a village and advocated that the town be dissolved and its territories possibly divided between the villages of Merton and Sussex.

"It is time to eliminate a redundant layer of government before approving an even more expensive incorporated form of government which will live on in perpetuity," Reed said in the letter co-signed by his wife Valerie Linton-Reed.

Robert Williams, one of the founders of the citizens group that submitted the incorporation petition, and Town Chairman Matt Gehrke could not comment on the letter because they have not seen it. However, copies of the letter have been received by Village of Sussex officials who shared it with the newspaper.

Reed suggested that town failed to meet some of the six standards required for a town to incorporate into a village including being compact and homogenous.

"Lisbon is spread out, with concentrated pockets of subdivisions mainly in the west and east portions of the town. Lisbon is not homogenous as evidenced by two high school districts that divide the town almost in half geographically and by population," he wrote.

"Lisbon does not share or get along with its neighbors. Lisbon's emergency vehicles' routinely answer calls with sirens blasting and lights flashing down Main Street, directly past the Sussex Fire Station on their way to an emergency on the other side of Sussex. Sussex could more easily and economically respond to these calls which are actually closer to their (Sussex) fire station," Reed added.

In his letter, Reed claimed that he tried, and failed, to get Town Administrator Jeff Musche and various town department directors to identify how they could more effectively share services with the Village of Sussex.

"It is Lisbon, not Sussex, that does not work and play well with its neighbors," he said in the letter.

However, Reed's strained relationship with the town staff and other board members was one of the reasons he was defeated in a 2009 re-election bid by then-Supervisor Matt Gehrke.

Reed was elected in 2007, the first of two election cycles where voters tossed out all of the incumbent town board members.

Former Town Chairman Gerald Schmitz, who was defeated in the 2007 primary election won by Reed, spoke in favor of incorporation during a hearing on March 16 conducted by the state Incorporation Review Board. He rebutted some of the arguments in Reed's letter that were also presented to the board by Sussex municipal attorney Stanley Riffle.

Schmitz told the board he believed the town met the state qualifications to become a village. He noted there are a number of cities and villages in Lake Country served by multiple high school districts and suggested the rural residential character of the town is desired by its citizens and does not disqualify Lisbon from becoming a village.

During his one term as chairman, Reed supported proposals to use town funds to study issues related to incorporation and was a member of a citizens committee that recommended the Town Board take steps to eventually become a village.

However, it was during his campaign for town board chairman in 2007 that Reed, during a candidates forum, suggested one alternative to governing the town would be to abolish it and divide its territories between the villages of Merton and Sussex.

In the letter he said, "fiscal economies can be gained," if the town is dissolved.

"Lisbon can be divided with western and eastern divisions and merged into the Villages of Merton and Sussex, respectively," he concluded.

In the letter, he said Williams and Denise Wenger, two of the co-founders of Lisbon-Inc.org were advocating incorporation because it would benefit their real estate and business interests.

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Shared medical services mulled

Five communities discuss regional paramedic services

By Kelly Smith

Posted: April 18, 2011

Town of Lisbon — Five communities in Waukesha and Washington counties are apparently exploring the possibility of establishing a regional paramedic emergency response service that might cover an estimated 150 square miles.

The communities are the Town of Lisbon and the Villages of Lannon, Richfield, Germantown and Menomonee Falls.

"We are in the very, very early stages of discussion," said Town of Lisbon Fire Chief Doug Brahm.

Brahm declined to describe the details of the proposal because he was concerned that too much premature public discussion about the negotiations could jeopardize the success of the venture.

He noted, however, that Lisbon, Richfield, Germantown and Menomonee Falls have existing paramedic services that work under the medical control of Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke dropped the first hint of the negotiations during an annual town meeting of Lisbon residents at Hamilton High School on April 12. Brahm said the town was approached about the possibility of a regional paramedic service by the Village of Germantown.

Gehrke estimated that the regional service area could be as large as 150 square miles. He said the town's role in the negotiations is evidence of the town's efforts to share services with surrounding communities.

The town's willingness to share services with its municipal neighbors might be an important consideration when the state's Incorporation Review Board makes it decision in June whether to recommend the town be incorporated into a village.

Conspicuous by its absence among the list of communities in the negotiations is the Village of Sussex, which is opposing the town's efforts to become a village.

There are three paramedic response services in the approximately eight-mile stretch between the Village of Merton and the Village of Sussex, along Highway VV (Silver Spring Road)

They include the Town of Lisbon's paramedic service; Lake Country Fire and Rescue paramedics, who serve the Village of Merton, and paramedics in both the Sussex Fire Department and Lake Country Fire and Rescue who serve the Village of Sussex.

Brahm was asked why the Villages of Merton and Sussex were not included in the talks.

Brahm responded that negotiations had to start somewhere. "Whether you start at Merton or Menomonee Falls, what difference does it make?" he added.

Supervisor Joe Osterman, who chairs the town Public Safety Committee, said Sussex officials were approached about being included in the discussions but declined the offer.

"Lisbon has to make decision for Lisbon, and Sussex has to make decision for Sussex," Brahm noted in a separate interview.

Brahm speculated that Sussex's relationships with hospitals other than Community Memorial might have been a factor in its decision not to participate in the talks. Brahm said that all municipal medical emergency response programs must be under the medical control of a doctor or hospital.

The Village of Sussex's emergency medical technician (EMT) response teams are under the medical control of Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Sussex has a paramedic service contract with the City of Delafield. The medical control for the Sussex and Delafield paramedics is Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital.


Little Interest in Lisbon Sussex Merger

Former Lisbon chairman sent a letter to state officials saying Lisbon and Sussex should merge instead of separate incorporation.

By Joe Petrie, April 18, 2011, Menomonee Falls Patch

 
Sussex and Town of Lisbon leaders said they have no active interest in merging despite calls for at least a partial merger by former town Chairman Mike Reed.

Reed sent a letter to the state Incorporation Review Board asking for members to deny the Lisbon incorporation because the town should instead dissolve and merge with Sussex and other area communities.

Lisbon Chairman Matt Gehrke said Tuesday it’s not something town leaders are considering at this time.

“I’ve heard his comments but I support moving forward as does the entirety of the Town Board,” Gehrke said. “There are certainly multiple reasons why he isn’t chair in Lisbon anymore.”

A citizens group called Lisbon-Inc.org filed the petition for incorporation with the Wisconsin Department of Administration in 2010 due to issues they have with preserving borders with Sussex and Menomonee Falls, and to avoid county zoning rules for subdividing land, which would allow for smaller lots on a divided property.

The petition is being reviewed by the state, which is expected to render a judgment by the end of June.

In the letter Reed states the dissolution of the town and merger with Sussex and Merton are necessary because incorporating Lisbon now would run contrary to Gov. Scott Walker’s ideas of shrinking government and reducing costs.

“Town of Lisbon gets many of its services from the Village of Sussex. Lisbon and Sussex have had an ongoing feud for longer than many of its current residents have been alive. Costly competitive disputes between boards and committees are ongoing,” the letter states. “The facts remain: Lisbon needs Sussex sewer capacity. Lisbon residents shop and frequent Sussex and Merton commercial and business establishments. Lisbon residents and kids frequent Merton and Sussex sports events and sports facilities on an ongoing and frequent basis. For the most part, Sussex and Merton are Lisbon's community centers. Lisbon has no community center other than that shared with Sussex; has no business district, and is not homogenous and nor compact. “

Jeremy Smith, village administrator for Sussex, said the municipality has let its views be known about how Sussex could be impacted if Lisbon incorporates, but there hasn’t been any official stance on supporting or not supporting incorporation.

He said it has been awhile since village leaders discussed consolidation with Lisbon, but it isn’t a new issue.

“This has been out there 50, 60, 70 years about what’s the most effective way to do things,” he said. “There are a lot of different issues, but ultimately it’s not something the boards have really talked about seriously, but if people were interested it’s certainly we could look at.”


Incorporation foe bounced from Lisbon board

Town chairman does not reappoint plan commissioner

By Kelly Smith

Posted: April 27, 2011

Town of Lisbon —A town resident who has vocally opposed the effort to incorporate the town into a village has been removed from the Plan Commission by Town Chairman Matt Gehrke.

Gehrke said in an interview after the April 25 Town Board meeting that he did not reappoint Sherry Howard because he did not think she could make decisions that balance the rights of property owners with the town's powers to regulate land use because of her opposition to incorporation.

He said it is the policy of both the Plan Commission and the Town Board to support the incorporation of the town into a village because if the incorporation petition is granted by the state and approved by local voters, it would give the town sole authority over property rights and land-use decisions.

A petition filed by the citizens group Lisbon-Inc.org to incorporate the town into a village is pending before the state Incorporation Review Board. The board conducted a public hearing at the Richard Jung Fire Station on March 16 where Howard testified against incorporation.

The Incorporation Review Board is expected to deliberate the evidence presented for, and against, the petitions during a May 24 meeting in Madison. A decision by the board is expected in June. If the board grants the petition, a referendum will be held to determine whether the town will become a village.

Howard, who has been a resident of the town for 28 years, was a member of the citizens committee that in 2007 studied incorporation and other alternatives for governing the town. The committee stopped short of endorsing incorporation and instead suggested the Town Board and Plan Commission adopt policies that would prepare the town for incorporation.

Howard has often argued that the founders of Lisbon-Inc.org have personal business and real estate interests that would benefit from the town's incorporation.

She sharply attacked Lisbon-Inc.org's petition to the State Incorporation Review Board as being misleading and inaccurate.

"This submittal contains a multitude of misleading, inaccurate and false statements, was neither reviewed by nor provided to the residents of Lisbon and does not necessarily represent the desire of the people of the Town of Lisbon," she wrote to the review board.

Howard, who acknowledged she was angered by Gehrke's decision, said she was unable to convince the chairman that she could continue serving in her role as a Plan Commission member.

With one dissenting vote, the Town Board approved Gehrke's appointment of volunteer fire Lt. Mark Meyer. Meyer has been active in the community, including playing a key role in the town's obtaining a steel beam from the World Trade Center to be used as a centerpiece for a 9/11 memorial at Town Hall Park.

Ironically, it was Supervisor Dan Heier, one of Meyer's co-workers at the department, who voted against his appointment.

"I have the greatest respect for Mark Meyer. I work with him. But, I also have great respect for Sherry Howard, and I don't think we should replace her three years' experience on the Plan Commission. I would like to see the consistency she has brought to the commission continued," he said.

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Lisbon-Inc.org leader denies real estate interests

Wenger: Family property not tied to incorporation

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 3, 2011

Town of Lisbon — One of the founders of Lisbon-Inc.org, the citizens group petitioning the state to allow the Town of Lisbon to become a village, is denying allegations that her efforts in the incorporation movement are linked to her family's real estate holdings.

Denise Wenger said the future use of about 75 acres of woodlands owned by several members of her family near Swan Road will not be impacted by whether the town becomes a village. Wenger said the future use of the land will be determined by a land-use contract between the state and members of her family, not a controversial provision in Waukesha County and Town of Lisbon land use and zoning regulations.

Some opponents of incorporation have implied that Wenger's campaign for village status for the town is based on her opposition to regulations that restrict future development of the property owned by her family members.

She rebuts that although those local regulations may not affect her family's land holdings, they will impact the property rights of town residents who lived in older subdivisions in the town where there is an abundance of mature trees near wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.

The Town Board and Plan Commission, at the urging of Waukesha County land use officials, adopted local land use and zoning regulations in so-called Upland Woodlands land use districts, according to Wenger.

The districts, included in county land use and zoning regulations, are intended to help protect environmentally sensitive areas by limiting land use and development within those areas.

Wenger has argued that the imposition of the regulations on the town by county officials violated the individual property rights of the owners of land within the districts. She asserts that the individual property owners cannot petition their elected town officials in opposition to the codes because the standards are required by county officials. The county has jurisdiction over the town regarding many land use and zoning decisions.

If the town became a village, the county would no longer have jurisdiction over most local land use and zoning regulations.

Wenger acknowledged that the Village of Lisbon could adopt the same, or more restrictive, Upland Woodlands regulations. The difference, she stated, is that village residents would have the ability to influence the elections and decision making of the village officials imposing those regulations rather than being forced to comply with county codes.

The incorporation petition is pending before the state Incorporation Review Board. If the board approves the petition, the Waukesha County Circuit Court would be expected to order local officials to conduct a referendum where voters would decide whether the town should become a village.

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Lisbon fate in the hands of new chairman

New appointee will decide whether Lisbon may become a village

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 3, 2011

Town of Lisbon —A newly appointed chairman of the state Incorporation Review Board, along with the staff of the Department of Administration (DOA), will decide whether the Town of Lisbon can become a village even though the new appointee did not attend the public hearing conducted by the board on March 16 at the Richard Jung Fire Station.

According to state law, the chairman and the department have until June 17 to make the decision. The board has scheduled a May 24 meeting in Madison where it is expected to deliberate findings and recommendations made by the DOA staff based on evidence presented to the board regarding whether the town meets six state standards for becoming a village.

If the board rules in favor of incorporation, the Waukesha County Circuit Court is expected to order local officials to set a date for a referendum on whether voters will approve the town becoming a village. The board may also reject the incorporation petition or make recommendations for it to be revised in order to be approved.

Meanwhile, the town chairman and a leader of the incorporation effort both have acknowledged that they recently learned that it is the board chair - not the other four members of the board - who will make decision. The DOA has interpreted state law to mean that the other members of the board serve only in advisory roles.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke and Denise Wenger, one of the founders of Lisbon-Inc.org, said last week they thought that all of the board members were involved in making the final decision and did not realize that according to the state law, "All members of the board, other than the secretary of administration or his or her designee, serve only in an adversary capacity."

The secretary of the department's designee serves as board chair. Scott Wilson has replaced Jason Culotta as board chair and as a deputy administrator in the department, according to Erich Schmidtke, one of the DOA officials who provides staff assistance to the board.

Culotta, who presided over the March 16 hearing, recently resigned from DOA to accept a position in the governor's office. Schmidtke said he did not know why Governor Scott Walker's administrator did not wait until after a decision was made on the Lisbon incorporation to transfer Culotta to the governor's office.

Schmidtke said he anticipated that the DOA staff along with other members of the board would be providing Wilson with information about the incorporation petition filed by the citizen's group Lisbon-Inc.org.

Gehrke said he was surprised when he learned of Culotta's resignation and Wilson's appointment.

"I would have preferred Jason made the decision. But, there is nothing we can do about it, and at the end of the day, I don't think it will make difference. Lisbon meets the standards to become a village regardless of who is chairman," Gehrke said.

"I am sure that the other members of the board will play an important role in helping the chairman make the decision that Lisbon is ready to be a village," added Wenger.

Wenger and Gehrke said that based on information they had received regarding the incorporation review they had believed that all of the board members had an equal voice in the decision. However, Gehrke said he learned it was the chair's decision during a private conversation with Culotta at the March 16 hearing.

DOA officials did not indicate during the hearing that four members of the five-member board were serving only in an advisory capacity to the chairman.

State law outlines a list of duties and responsibilities for the board but the department relies on the section of the law that says other members serve in an advisory capacity to the chairman, according to Schmidtke.

"The board is an important part of the process and the work they do and the advice they provide to the chair is used to guide all decisions," Schmidtke added in a recent email.

The staff's findings and recommendations will be circulated to the individual board members and discussed by them during the May 24 meeting. The purpose of the meeting, which is open to the public, will be to develop a consensus on the chair's decision.

The staff will later circulate a draft of the decision to the individual board members for their comments and review before the chair's decision, prepared by the staff, is rendered.


Lisbon: Sussex violated border agreement

Lisbon officials ask for mediation in border dispute

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 10, 2011

Town of Lisbon —Town Board members agreed Monday night that Village of Sussex officials have "breached" the border agreement that existings between the communities.

The town's lawyers and staff have been instructed to ask village officials to join them in initiating a mediation process that is intended to resolve disputes between the communities related to the border agreement reached in 2001.

The unanimous vote of the Town Board followed an approximately 40-minute closed session with Town Attorney Kathy Gutenkunst. Town Board members have held several closed-door sessions with Gutenkunst since the village adopted in July a resolution indicating it was willing to annex all of the territories of the town.

Village officials have said they have no intentions of annexing town lands, which would violate the agreement, but they said it was necessary to adopt the resolution so the village could raise issues in opposition to a citizens group's petition seeking to incorporate Lisbon into a village.

The state Incorporation Review Board is scheduled to discuss the petition at a May 24 meeting in Madison and has until June 17 to render a decision. If the board accepts the petition, town voters will make the final decision during a referendum on whether the town would be upgrade to village status.

Town officials have argued that the border agreement specifically provided that the village would not oppose any efforts to incorporate the town into a village. But lawyers for the village have argued the town has failed to agree to share services with the village which was a condition for the village agreeing not to oppose incorporation.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said it was necessary for the Town Board to take action prior to July of this year in order to protect its authority to seek mediation, and if necessary arbitration, of the dispute with the village.

Gehrke said Monday night's action was also necessary in order to protect the town's borders from possible annexation from the village.

Gehrke called newly elected Village President Greg Goetz in order to personally notify him of the town board's action before the village president was approached by the media or read about the Town Board's action online.

"I have absolutely no response other than to say that it was nice of Matt to call me tonight and tell me the direction the town board was taking," Goetz said Monday night.

"I understand that the Town Board members are doing what they believe they have to do. I will report to the Village Board when it meets Tuesday but there can be no action taken because it is not on the meeting agenda," Geotz added.

Goetz declined to speculate on what action the Village Board would take.


Library talks resume?

Officials may meet soon about agreement

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 18, 2011

Village of Sussex - A village trustee who is a newly appointed member of the Pauline Haas Library Board says he is willing to go into negotiations with the Town of Lisbon over a joint municipal library agreement with "an open mind" but he is not likely to support a town proposal to change the formula for providing local funds for the library.

"I think it is important that everyone go into this with an open mind. We (the Village of Sussex) have a new administration and there are some new people on the board," said Village Trustee Tim Dietrich, who was recently appointed to the Library Board by newly elected Village President Greg Goetz.

However, he added, "I think the 50-50 formula is just fine," referring to the existing funding formula in which each community is annually contributing about $425,000 to $450,000 a year to library operations.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke has called for a change in the formula that he says should more accurately reflect the fact that Sussex residents use the library more than Lisbon residents. Gehrke has said he could support an extension of the agreement provided that Lisbon's share of the library costs are reduced.

Library Director Kathy Klager last year urged the elected officials to focus first on amending the agreement that created the joint community library and deal with funding formula issues later.

Klager expressed concern the future of the library could be "problematic" unless there is a change in the language that allows either community to pull out of the agreement with 90 days notice after 2014 when the loans on the building are paid off and the existing agreement expires.

Talks between the elected leaders in the two communities stalled last year, partly because officials from both communities were awaiting the outcome of contested municipal elections in Sussex in April. Town of Lisbon incumbent, included Gehrke, were reelected without opposition.

Library Board President Emil Glodoski sent a letter two weeks ago asking the town board chairman and village president to resume negotiations on the agreement.

Gehrke said the library agreement was one of a number of issues he planned on discussing in the near future with Goetz.

"My goal is to meet with Greg on a wide assortment of issues, the library being one of them, "said Gehrke, who added he was not sure how soon they would be able to meet.

Border agreement related?

Gehrke added that there was no relationship between the pending library negotiations and a closed-door session the Town Board scheduled on Monday, May 9 to discuss the border agreement between the two communities with Town Attorney Kathy Gutenkunst.

The border agreement has become the subject of controversy between the two communities as a result of Sussex opposing an effort by town residents to have Lisbon incorporated into a village. Town officials have contended the village's opposition to the town's incorporation is a violation of the border agreement. Village contended town officials had already violated the agreement by failing to share municipal services with the village and pointed to impasse over the library agreement as an example.

Some town and village observers have privately conjectured that the two issues are, or may, become intertwined.

Dietrich replaces on the Library Board former trustee Steve Berger who did not seek reelection to the village board. Dietrich has generally been sympathetic to the efforts to incorporate Lisbon as a village.

He was asked if the town's $1.5 million surplus in its general fund would become an issue in the library negotiations.

"I don't care how much money they have or don't have. Both communities are almost identical in size and this is about providing enough money so that if everyone from both communities wanted to use the library, there would be enough money to provide that service. If Lisbon residents don't choose to use the library as much as Sussex's, that is up to them but I want to make sure there is enough money to serve everyone," Dietrich added.


State board considers Lisbon incorporation

Review board meeting held Tuesday

Posted: May 24, 2011

Madison - The state Incorporation Review Board was expected to spend Tuesday afternoon, May 24, discussing whether its chairman should recommend the Town of Lisbon become a village. That meeting took place after the Sun went to press.

No decision is expected at the meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. at the board's office at 101 E. Wilson St., Madison. The newly appointed chairman of the board, Scott Wilson, a deputy administrator in the Department of Administration (DOA), is required by state law to render a decision by June 17.

During the meeting, the five-member board will review findings and recommendations suggested by the DOA staff.

After the meeting, the staff will prepare final recommendations for the chairman that will be reviewed by the other board members before a decision is announced.

Since its inception in 2003, the board has never completely rejected a citizens group's petition for incorporation. The board granted petitions to incorporate the Towns of Richfield and Summit into villages.

It initially denied petitions from citizens in the Towns of Bristol and Bloomfield. However, the board indicated to those citizens that if they changed the borders of the proposed villages so they would be more compact and contiguous, the board would grant the incorporation requests.

The citizens of Bristol revised their incorporation proposal, which was later approved by the board. The petition from the citizens of Bloomfield, which also has been amended, is pending, according to Erich Schmidtke, a DOA staff member for the board.

There has been private speculation by officials in both the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex that the Incorporation Review Board might require some town lands, particularly south of Highway K, from Highway 164 east to Town Line Road, to be annexed to Sussex as a condition for granting incorporation to the town.

But that is not an option that Town Chairman Matt Gehrke is considering.

"That is not something we are thinking about. We believe the town fully qualifies to be a village, and we are anticipating the incorporation being approved," he said.

But Gehrke added that the Town Board would consider "all options" in the event the petition is either rejected or if suggested amendments are offered.

The petition was filed by the citizen's group Lisbon-Inc.org last year and later endorsed by the Town Board.

The petition must establish that the town meets six criteria established by state law to become a village. The staff recommendations and findings on each of those criteria will be discussed at Tuesday's meeting.

The criteria includes that the town must have a sufficient tax base to provide revenues to support services required of a village. The newly created village must also be capable of providing services to residents that are equivalent to the services other communities could provide the citizens.

The proposed territories in the village must be compact, contiguous and homogeneous, and there must be reasonable expectations of future economic development in an area beyond the most populated region within the village, according to the standards.

A public hearing on the ability of the town to meet those standards was conducted at the Richard Jung Fire Station on Richmond Road on March 16.

The hearing lasted about five hours, and the board heard from more than 30 town residents who support incorporation.

The hearing was presided over by former Chairman Jason Cullota, also a Department of Administration deputy administrator, who later resigned to accept another position in the Walker administration. Wilson was appointed by the secretary of the Department of Administration to replace Cullota.


Incorporation divides state board

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 25, 2011

Madison - The five member state Incorporation Review Board appeared to be evenly divided over whether the Town of Lisbon should be incorporated into a village after 31/2 hours of deliberations Tuesday afternoon at the Department of Administration headquarters.

The citizens group Lisbon-Inc.org filed the petition with the Department of Administration (DOA) seeking to have the town's governing status upgraded from a town to a village. The Villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls are opposed to the incorporation.

If the board approves the petition, Waukesha County Circuit Court will call for a referendum in which town voters will decide the issue.

Town Attorney Kathy Gutenkunst and Village of Sussex lawyer Stanly Riffle, who also represents the Village of Menomonee Falls, clashed frequently during the meeting over whether the town meets six criteria established by state law to qualify to become a village.

The tenor of questions posed to the attorneys by members of the Incorporation Review Board, as well as comments made by the board members, seemed to indicate that two members were leaning toward approving the petition while two others appeared likely to deny it.

The board will continue its deliberations during a June 8 conference call meeting in an unexpected - and unexplained - departure from its previous incorporation hearing procedures. Under state law, the board's chairman has until June 17 to render a decision.

In another surprise development, Dawn Vick, an 11-year veteran of the Department of Administration, was introduced as the third person within about 60 days to serve as chairman of the board.

Vick replaces Scott Wilson, who was appointed last month to replace Jason Cullota, who presided over the March 16 public hearing in Lisbon.

Cullota, a deputy administrator with the DOA, resigned to accept a new position with Gov. Scott Walker's office. Wilson was named to replace Cullota, but later resigned for personal reasons. Vick was named last week to replace Wilson.

She sat silently during most of the meeting and asked no questions during presentations. She later said she had studied the issues and did not want to ask duplicative questions.

But the rapid change in the board chair has prompted some local officials to privately speculate that the decision is more likely to be determined by DOA staff than the chairperson, who is supposed to seek the advice of the staff and other board members.

DOA staff member Erich Schmidtke removed one issue from the deliberations at the beginning of the meeting. He told the board that the staff had determined that the town has sufficient revenue sources to provide services as a village.

But other key issues remain. They include whether the territory of the proposed Village of Lisbon is compact, contiguous and homogenous, as required by state law, and whether there is sufficient density, and the possibility of future development, to qualify as a village.

In addition, the petitioners must be able to persuade the Review Board that the new village can provide its citizens with services equivalent to the services available in other communities.

Gutenkunst repeatedly reminded the board that it granted village status to the Towns of Summit and Richfield, two communities with less population and about the same rural density as the Town of Lisbon, both of which were represented by Riffle in incorporation proceedings.

Board member Paul Fisk, an alderman from the City of Lodi, questioned why the board's decision in Summit and Richfield was relevant to the Lisbon petition.

Gutenkunst pointed out that the DOA has based previous incorporation decisions on precedents set in prior cases.

Fisk then pointed to two economic development projects that promoted Summit and Richfield to seek incorporation. "But Lisbon does not have a Pabst Farms like Summit had or a Cabela's like in the case of Richfield," he noted.


Incorporation fight linked to library talks

Lisbon, Sussex to resume library negotiations

By Kelly Smith

Posted: May 27, 2011 11:04 a.m.

Town of Lisbon - It is "problematic" whether negotiations between the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex over the operations of the Pauline Haass Public Library can be separated from the battles between the two communities over whether Lisbon should become a village, according to Town Chairman Matt Gehrke

An informal agreement to resume negotiations over the library was apparently reached during a private meeting Wednesday night, May 25, at the library between representatives of the village, town and Library Board.

Village Trustee Tim Dietrich and Town Supervisor Ryan Lippert are expected to begin private one-on-one talks in two weeks in an effort to develop the framework of an agreement that will allow the library to continue operations after 2014.

Attending the meeting were Gehrke and Lippert representing the town, Dietrich and Village President Greg Goetz representing the village, Library Director Kathy Klager and Library Board President Emil Glodowski along with Town Administrator Jeff Musche and Village Administrator Jeremy Smith.

The meeting was exempt from the Wisconsin open-meetings law because there was not a quorum of any of the three units of government, the Town and Village boards and the Library Board.

Dietrich said there was a consensus at the meeting - although it was not unanimous - that he and Lippert would take the lead role in the negotiations rather than having Goetz and Gehrke try to initially hammer out an agreement.

Dietrich said the parties agreed there was a possibility that other issues could interfere with library negotiations if the two chief elected officials were involved.

Gehrke, in a separate interview, described the meeting as "productive" and confirmed that Lippert and Dietrich would be doing some negotiation but Gehrke said talks between he and Goetz would also continue. He said that any agreement between the communities regarding the library would need the support of the town chairman and village president.

Gehrke said he thought the town and village were in agreement "on about 90 percent" of provisions for a new agreement.

Gehrke was asked whether it was possible to separate the library talks from the ongoing incorporation battle between the two communities. "It's problematic," he said.

Gehrke pointed out "trust is important when you are negotiating an agreement" and noted that the town thinks the village has violated a border agreement between the two communities by opposing the town's efforts to become a village.

But Gehrke has asserted the town is being charged an unfair share of the library operating costs. The two communities each pay about $450,000 to $500,000 annually.

The present agreement provides the communities share the cost based on their respective assessed valuations, which has resulted in the two communities paying an almost equal share.

Gehrke argues that Sussex residents use the library more, based on statistics from the library staff, than Lisbon residents and therefore Sussex should pay more, perhaps as much as about $80,000 annually.

Last year, Klager asked the two municipalities to temporarily set aside discussions about funding the library in order to reach a settlement on continuing the remainder of the agreement beyond 2014.

Klager is concerned that either community could dissolve the agreement with only 90 days notice once construction debts on the building are paid.

Library Board member Robert Williams, a former town supervisor, has said he thinks either community could pay off the debt immediately.

Klager has told the elected officials that it is difficult for her staff and the Library Board to plan for the future since there is uncertainty about how long the existing agreement might continue.


Lisbon's incorporation depends upon numbers

Dispute over developable land now key issue

Town of Lisbon - The decision whether the Town of Lisbon is eligible to become a village could hinge on the state Incorporation Review Board's resolution of a dispute over how many acres of developable land remain in the north-central section of the town.

The calculation accepted by the board is likely to determine whether the town meets the so-called "territory beyond the core" standard to qualify as a village.

Some town officials have said privately that the "territory beyond the core" is the standard they are most concerned about meeting.

The five-member appointed state board is expected to conclude its deliberations on whether to grant a petition filed by Lisbon-Inc.org to incorporate the town into a village during a telephone conference call meeting scheduled for June 15. According to state law, the chairman of the board has until June 17 to render a decision.

The board conducted more than five hours of public hearings in March at the Richard Jung Fire Station and deliberated for 31/2 hours in Madison last month.

The board may grant the petition, reject the petition, or reject the petition with recommendations that the petition be amended for further consideration.

If the board grants the petition, it will request a Waukesha County Circuit Court judge order a referendum in which it would be left up to Lisbon voters whether to approve the incorporation.

The "territory beyond the core" requirement might be described as example of how arcane and subjective the six standards for a town to become a village can be.

The standard requires "the potential for residential or other urban land use development on a substantial scale within the next three years" of the territory beyond the most densely populated square mile of the town, the so-called core.

The core is defined as the most densely populated square mile with an average of more than 30 housing units per quarter section with more than 25 percent of the real estate attributable to existing or potential mercantile, manufacturing, or public utility uses.

According to Lisbon-Inc.org, "the core" in the Town of Lisbon is the predominantly residential area between Highway 164 east to Hillside Road. The northern boundary of the core is Highway Q - County Line Road - and the Song Bird Hills Golf course area is roughly the southern boundary.

Lisbon-Inc.org contends there are 2,992 acres of developable land subject to the "territory beyond the core" standard.

"Planned development of 28.2 percent developable land means that Lisbon has the potential for urban land use development on a substantial scale within the next three years," according to Lisbon-Inc.org documents.

But the number of developable acres applied in the standard is in dispute.

According to Town of Lisbon statistics, there are 4,300 acres of developable land.

According Waukesha County estimates, there are 5,565 acres, and the Village of Sussex, which is opposing incorporation, asserts there are 5,303 acres of developable land near the core.

The difference in the estimates, according to town officials, is the method used to calculate the numbers. They assert that the county and village estimates are based on outdated data and include lands either already in the midst of the regular process for development or lands that cannot be developed because they are wetlands, quarries or environmentally sensitive areas.

"Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the petitioners (Lisbon-Inc.org) did not submit a current land use map," according to Erich Schmidtke of the Department of Administration, which provides staff support for the Incorporation Review Board.

According to Department of Administration staff, a number of facts are used to calculate whether enough development is likely to occur on developable lands, including building permit data, population growth data, comprehensive planning, subdivision platting and other land use data.

In the case of the Lisbon, the less developable land available, the better for the town's hopes of becoming a village.


Sussex faces $40,000 in legal fees to block Lisbon incorporation

Village officials not sure if bills will continue

Sussex - Village President Greg Goetz and some village trustees are defending the more than $40,000 in legal fees the village has spent trying to block the town of Lisbon's efforts to also become a village.

According to village records, attorney Stanley Riffle has received $39,084 in fees from June of 2009 through May 17 to block the incorporation of the town into a village. The unbudgeted legal expenses will be paid from the village's approximately $1.8 million general fund reserve, according to Village Administrator Jeremy Smith.

The village of Menomonee Falls has paid $7,500 to Riffle as part of the effort to block the incorporation, according to the Menomonee Falls village attorney's office. The Falls legal fees have been budgeted and are part of its legal expenses line item.

Riffle, considered an expert in incorporation law, is a senior partner in the law firm of Arenz, Molter, Macy and Riffle which also serves as the village's municipal law firm.

Decision expected Friday

The fees do not include Riffle's appearance on behalf of the village at the state Incorporation Review Board deliberations in Madison on May 24. Riffle is also expected to represent the village during a telephone conference call meeting with the board on Wednesday.

The Incorporation Review Board chairwoman Dawn Vick is required by state law to render a decision on the town's incorporation petition by Friday.

Any action taken by the Incorporation Review Board could result in additional legal fees for the village if the Sussex Village Board appeals a decision or challenges any appeal filed by the town.

Ironically, the Town Board has spent about $13,000, less a third of what Sussex has paid, since most of the costs of the incorporation battle has been absorbed by Lisbon-Inc.org, the residents group that filed the petition with state and county officials.

The Sussex village president and trustees declined to say if the Village Board will continue to fight the town's incorporation after the Incorporation Review Board decision.

Goetz, a former trustee elected as village president in April, emphasized that all village trustees would participate in any decision resulting in further legal expenses.

Opposition began in 2010

He acknowledged that Riffle, former Village President Tony Lapcinski and former administrator Even Teich, initially made the decision in early 2010 that the village would oppose the incorporation petition filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court in late 2009 by Lisbon-Inc.org.

Goetz was one of four trustees who told the Sussex Sun in April of 2010 that they did not become aware until after a court hearing that Riffle had filed objections to the incorporation petitions.

However, Goetz and the trustees have continued approving the legal bills.

Last week, Goetz said that the legal fees were necessary in order to protect the interests of the village. He asserted there was a concern among village officials that if there was future development in a newly created village of Lisbon, it could result in more Lisbon residents using village of Sussex services such as streets and parks without paying taxes for the services.

Goetz added that the village's intervention might have been prevented if representatives of Lisbon-Inc.org had met with village officials about the incorporation effort before they filed the petition.

However, Goetz's predecessor, Lapcinski, said several times in 2010 and 2011 that such a meeting would not have accomplished much since the residents group could not speak for town officials.

Trustees Tim Dietrich and Pat Tetzlaff said in separate interviews last week that they concurred with Goetz that the legal fees were necessary to protect the village's interest. They said as elected officials they had to rely on the advice of Riffle and Teich who were urging the village to intervene in the incorporation process.


Sussex spends big fighting Lisbon petition

Sussex has spent three times Lisbon on incorporation

Village of Sussex - Village President Greg Goetz and some village trustees are defending spending more than $40,000 in legal fees in an atttempt to block the Town of Lisbon's efforts to also become a village.

According to village records, attorney Stanley Riffle received $39,083.65 in fees from June 2009 through May 17 to block the incorporation of the town into a village. The unbudgeted legal expenses will paid from the village's approximately $1.8 million general fund reserve, according to Village Administrator Jeremy Smith.

Riffle, considered an expert in incorporation law, is a senior partner in the law firm of Arenz, Molter, Macy and Riffle, which also serves as the village's municipal law firm.

The fees do not include Riffle's appearance on behalf of the village at the state Incorporation Review Board deliberations in Madison on May 24. Riffle was also expected to represent the village during a telephone conference call meeting with the board on Wednesday, June 15.

The Incorporation Review Board chairwoman Dawn Vick is required by state law to render a decision on the town's incorporation petition by Friday, June 17.

Any action taken by the Incorporation Review Board could result in additional legal fees for the village if the Village Board appeals a decision or challenges any appeal filed by the town.

The Town Board has spent about $13,000 - three times less than the village - since most of the costs of the incorporation battle has been absorbed by Lisbon-Inc.org, the citizens group that filed the incorporation petition with state and county officials.

The village president and trustees declined to say whether the Village Board would continue to fight the town's incorporation after the Incorporation Review Board decision.

Goetz, a former trustee elected as village president in April, emphasized that all village trustees would participate in any decision resulting in further legal expenses.

He acknowledged that Riffle, former Village President Tony Lapcinski and former Administrator Even Teichinitially made the decision in early 2010 that the village would oppose theincorporation petition filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court in late 2009 by Lisbon-Inc.org.

Goetz was one of four trustees who told the Sussex Sun in April 2010 that they did not become aware until after a court hearing that Riffle had filed objections to the incorporation petitions.

However, Goetz and the trustees have continued approving the legal bills.

In last week's interview, Goetz said that the legal fees were necessary to protect the interests of the village. He asserted there was a concern among village officials that if there was future development in a newly created Village of Lisbon, it could result in more Lisbon residents using Village of Sussex services such as streets and parks without paying taxes for those services.

Goetz added that the village's intervention might have been prevented if representatives of Lisbon-Inc.org had met with village officials about the incorporation effort before filing the petition.

However, Goetz's predecessor, Lapcinski, said several times in 2010 and 2011 that such a meeting would not have accomplished much since the citizens group could not speak for town officials.

Trustees Tim Dietrich and Pat Tetzlaff said in separate interviews last week that they concurred with Goetz that the legal fees were necessary to protect the village's interest. They said as elected lay persons they had to rely on the advice of Riffle and Teich, who were urging the village to intervene in the incorporation process.

Newly elected Supervisor Jim Batzko said he could not comment on the legal fees because most of them occurred while he was not a member of the Village Board.

Batzko resigned from the board in 2010 to make an unsuccessful Republican primary election bid for a state legislative seat. He was elected to the Village Board in April.


Merton-Lisbon snowplow pact pending

Village officials prefer contract with town drivers

Town of Lisbon - Village of Merton and Town of Lisbon officials appear to be on the verge of an agreement that the town will plow village streets for about the same price that the village has been paying a private contractor who says he no longer wants the job.

The Town Board, on a 4 to 1 vote Monday, instructed the town staff to draft a proposed contract for Village Board approval. The three-year contract would provide town snowplowing services to the village for about $103,000 annually.

The proposal includes an estimated cost of about $58,120 for plowing including 12 hours labor at $60 per hour per snow event. There would be an additional $100 per event in fuel costs and $633 for salt in each of the 40 events anticipated in the contract.

Added to the $58,120, is $45,000 in a so-called annual, "up-front" payment for equipment. Town officials anticipate they will have to purchase two additional snowplow trucks in order to implement the agreement.

The up-front payment would be paid annually before each snow season, according to the agreement. The village would not be billed for any additional equipment cost for the remainder of the contract year except for fuel, salt and labor for the remainder of the snow season.

Fuel will be billed at 105 percent of the town's actual cost. Labor will be billed at an hourly rate. Salt will be billed based on actual usages and the town's cost to purchase the salt in addition to a 15 percent handling and storage fee.

The town plows about 90 miles of road, which computes to about 180 miles since both sides of the road have to be plowed. The village has about 22 - or 44 - miles of streets to be plowed.

Village officials have said they would prefer to contract with another municipality rather than a private contractor. Village Clerk/Administrator Tom Nelson said municipal snowplowing operations usually have more experienced street and highway snowplow operators than private contracts.

Nelson said municipal snowplow operators are also more experienced in dealing will taxpayer complaints regarding snow removal.

The proposed contract does not resolve the question of which municipality will be responsible for removing snow along Main Street in the village business district. Because Main Street is also Highway VV, Waukesha County crews plow the driving lanes and push the snow into parking lanes along the side of Main Street.

The snow must be removed and hauled away from the parking lanes almost immediately after the street has been plowed because the parking lanes must be cleared for downtown businesses as well as parents who park along the street to drop off and pick up children attending school.

Town officials said they are willing to remove and haul the snow at the same $60 hourly rate as proposed for the other snow removal in the contract. However, Town Administrator Jeff Musche said the town is not certain how much additional cost that might add to contract.

Village officials have said they may be willing to remove and haul the snow from Main Street depending on how much the town charges for the service.

The village pays about $100,000 a year to Jerry Meissner, owner of Crossbrook Enterprises, for snowplowing services.

Village officials approach the town about a possible municipal services agreement after Meissner told the village he no longer wants the snow removal contract.

Lisbon Town Chairman Matt Gehrke and Public Works Director Joe Klemm initially offered a draft proposal to the village that included a $40,000 "up front" annual payment to help pay for two used snowplow trucks.

However, during Monday night's closed session, the up-front payment was increased to $45,000 annually after Supervisor Joe Osterman, who manages a NAPA Auto Parts store, said the town will need a higher quality used, or possibly new, snowplow truck rather than the older, used equipment suggested by Klemm.

Supervisor Dan Fischer was the only dissenting vote, reportedly arguing that the contract proposal was "too great a risk and too little reward" for the town.


Lisbon incorporation expected to be denied

The chairwoman of the state Incorporation Review Board is expected to deny a petition for the Town of Lisbon to be incorporated as a village. A question remains as to whether she will leave a small glimmer of hope for some town officials and citizens who have campaigned for village status for the town.
Chairwoman Dawn Vick’s decision was expected to be sent by certified mail to the Waukesha County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon, June 17, and posted on the Department of Administration’s website Monday morning, June 20.


While dismissing the petition, Vick could allow a new petition to be filed later that would address issues raised by state officials relating to land in the southeast corner of the town, extending east along Highway K from 164 to the Town Line Road and north along Town Line Road to approximately Plainview Road.
According to the Department of Administration (DOA), the land is isolated from the remainder of the town and would be better serviced by surrounding villages rather than the proposed government. The so- called “islands” in the southeast corner also contribute to the town failing to meet the requirement of compactness and homogeneity to qualify to become a village, according to some state officials.


The findings and determinations prepared by the DOA staff were the subject of an hour and half debate among the five Incorporation Review Board members during a meeting in Madison on Wednesday, June 15.


State board denies Lisbon incorporation

State says town is too rural to qualify as a village

Madison - The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) and the state's Incorporation Review Board have apparently slammed the door - at the least for the time being - on efforts to incorporate the Town of Lisbon into a village.

The DOA staff and Board Chairwoman Dawn Vick determined that the town failed to meet three of the six state standards to become a village. One of the primary reasons they cited was that the southeast corner of the town, which is surrounded by other neighboring communities including the Village of Sussex, would be isolated from the remaining lands in the proposed Village of Lisbon.

Two members of the Incorporation Review Board disagreed with the staff’s finding in an hour-and-a-half debate during a telephone conference call meeting at DOA headquarters in Madison on Wednesday, June 15.
Agency attorney Mark Herman reminded board members that they only serve as advisers to Vick, who is responsible for making the final determination.


Three of the board members urged Vick to issue a decision that would dismiss the initial petition but allow the citizens’ group, Lisbon-Inc.org, to file an amended petition that might not include the southeast boundary for incorporation.


“It all comes back to that southeast corner,” said board member Paul Fisk, an alderman in the City of Lodi, who supported the staff’s finding but asked Vick whether there was some way she could issue a decision that would allow an amended petition to be filed later.


State law allows Vick to either accept or dismiss the petition, or dismiss the petition with the understanding that an amended petition could be filed later.


Vick is an administrator in the DOA, the state agency whose staff has recommended the petition be dismissed.


She was appointed last month after two previous board chairmen resigned within 60 days. She said she had reviewed videos of a March 16 public hearing, most of the documents submitted to the board, and has driven through the town. She expressed concern whether the town was compact and homogeneous enough for state standards.


“There is no one place where people could gather, a center where a village culture could take place. It struck me that when I left the Village of Sussex you knew you were leaving a village and entering a town,” she added.


She did not respond directly to board members’ suggestions that she consider allowing an amended petition to be filed later.


Board member Lonnie Muller , a town clerk and newspaper publisher in La Farge, argued that the state criteria for becoming a village was subjective and vaguely defined. He said Lisbon was as qualified to be a village as Richfield and Summit, two communities recently granted village status by the review board.
Board member Terrence McMahon , a Yorkville town supervisor in Racine County, concurred.


“This has been one of the toughest incorporation reviews we have had to deal with because of the geography of the town,” he said


“With the interveners coming in, it just muddied the waters more for me,” McMahon added.
The villages of Sussex and Menomonee Falls, both represented by attorney Stanley Riffle, intervened in the petition process, objecting to the town becoming a village.


Muller and McMahon also urged Vick to allow an amended petition to be filed.
However, Board member Rich Eggleston , a retired news reporter from Fitchburg, argued that the town failed to meet the criteria, and granting it village status would not resolve the differences between Lisbon and Sussex and might make it more difficult to provide services for town residents in the future, particularly those in the southeast corner.


Riffle, Lisbon Town Administrator Jeff Musche and Wenger attended the meeting but were not permitted to speak. They declined to comment pending the publishing of the decision.
But Wenger added, “We will be back. We will file a new petition. Lisbon is going to be a village.”


Incorporation appeal is likely

State board denies Lisbon effort to become a village

Since it is likely to be appealed, it is too soon to predict what impact a state board's decision to deny Lisbon an opportunity to become a village will have on already stressed relationships between elected officials in the town, who wanted to become a village, and elected officials in the Village of Sussex, who opposed the town becoming a village

Last week's decision by the Department of Administration (DOA) and the state Incorporation Review Board comes at a time when six members of the town and village boards are engaged in private negotiations over key issues separating the communities. Those issues include the border agreement between the municipalities as well as a joint operating agreement for the Pauline Haass Public Library.

Lisbon Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said it is too soon to assess what impact the decision might have on those discussions but added he was "surprised and disappointed" by the decision.

Sussex Village President Greg Goetz was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

Last week, Goetz said he and Gehrke have been involved in the some "excellent" private negotiations and he hoped those talks could continue regardless of how the Incorporation Review Board ruled.

Gehrke said he too would be interested in continuing those negotiations but added that town might be hesitant to enter into any future agreements with the village because town officials believe Sussex officials violated the border agreement between the communities by interfering with the incorporation effort.

Gehrke said the board decision surprised him because he believed that Lisbon had the same qualifications to become a village as other towns - including Richfield and Summit - that were recently granted incorporation by the state board.

Gehrke said Lisbon was required by the board to meet a "higher standard" than other towns seeking incorporation because the Village of Sussex intervened in the proceedings.

Denise Wenger, one of the founders of the citizen's group Lisbon-Inc.org, rattled off a long list of reasons why she believed the decision is likely to be appealed.

Chief among of them is the fact that the Incorporation Review Board had three different chairpersons during the approximately 60-day period from March 16, when the board held hearings on the incorporation, to May 24 when the board, and newly appointed Chairwoman Dawn Vick, began their deliberations.

In addition, Wenger said the findings issued by the department are replete with factual errors that were the basis for the chairwoman's decision.

For example, the staff findings concluded - with no apparent supporting data - that the existence of quarries in the township represented a "psychological barrier" to town residents because of the "inaccessibility and danger" presented by the quarries.

Wenger said the citizens' group will seek help from the Town Board in funding any legal maneuvers or appeal.

Gehrke said the board will meet behind closed doors at its next board meeting to discuss legal strategy and what role it is likely to play in any appeal.

Convincing state courts to override an administrative rule-making decision can be an uphill battle according to several legal sources.

In rejecting the petition, the DOA staff pointed to a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision indicating that Lisbon was too rural to meet urban qualifications to become a village.

In addition, the staff contended, the southeast corner of the town is isolated from the rest of the Lisbon community because it is surrounded by the villages of Sussex, Menomonee Falls and Lannon, and the City of Pewaukee. Such isolation, the staff argued, violates state requirements that a village must be contiguous, compact and homogenous.

The town failed to meet three of the six state standards according to the DOA findings.

"I am not going to gloat. I feel sad for them. It is something that some of the residents and their board wanted," said Village Trustee Tim Dietrich who has been involved in negotiations over the Pauline Haass library operating agreement with Town Supervisor Ryan Lippert.

Dietrich was hopeful the incorporation decision would not affect the negotiations over the library agreement.

"I think we have each other's trust and mutual respect and I am hopeful we can have a library agreement by the end of the year," Dietrich concluded.


Linton-Reed objects to closed meeting

Says Lisbon closed meeting may be illegal

Town of Lisbon - A town resident has threatened to file a formal complaint against the Town Board for violating the state's open meeting law if the board, during its Monday, June 27, meeting goes into closed session to discuss whether it should appeal a state ruling rejecting a proposal to incorporate the town into a village

However, a news organization lawyer with expertise in the state's open meetings law said the complaint, if it is filed, is not likely to go far in the court system.

The meeting and its closed session were scheduled to take place after the deadline for the Sussex Sun Wednesday, June 29 edition.

Valerie Linton-Reed sent a weekend email to town supervisors asserting they would be violating the law if they discussed in a closed session whether or not to provide financial or legal resources to the citizen's group Lisbon-Inc.org, which filed the petition asking for incorporation of the town into a village.

"The thought process to commit the town to further resources to fight the state on incorporation should not be a secret from the residents of the Town of Lisbon. Town residents should witness the board's decision and the reasoning behind the decision," Linton-Reed said.

Linton-Reed, the wife of former Town Chairman Mike Reed, said the town board should publicly discuss issues related to whether to become involved in the appeal process before going into a closed session to discuss any legal strategy that might be based on a decision whether to become involved in the appeal.

However, Robert Dreps, a lawyer for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association , said the board is not required to discuss in open session whether to become involved in the legal battle. In addition, he said, a state Supreme Court decision has said local government officials are entitled to the same lawyer-client confidentiality as a private citizen.

"It is kind of a chicken and egg situation. How can the board be expected to make an intelligent decision on whether it wants to become involved without having all of the facts about the legal strategy that may be employed? If the board wants to publically discuss whether or not to become involved in the legal controversy, they can go ahead and do it. But, the state Supreme Court has said they are also entitled to meet privately with their lawyer." he added.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke said he has confidence in Town Attorney Kathy Gutenkunst who has advised town officials that the closed session would be legal.

However, the Town Board may still be in an awkward position. It is not considered, at least by state officials, to be a party in the incorporation proceeding because town lawyers did not make an appearance in the Waukesha County Circuit Court where the petition was initially presented to judicial officials. At the time, town supervisors did not want town government to be directly involved in incorporation proceedings.

A spokeswoman for the citizen's group said last week she anticipated some type of an appeal of the decision would be pursued by Lisbon-Inc.org. However, she added, the group might need financial and legal help from the town. Town Chairman Matt Gehrke has said the town board may be willing to provide some assistance to the citizen's group in the legal battle.


Lisbon incorporation battle to continue

Citizens group likely to appeal state ruling

Town of Lisbon - The battle to incorporate the Town of Lisbon into a village is apparently far from over, despite a decision by the Town Board not to provide taxpayer funds to support a likely appeal by Lisbon-Inc.org of the state Incorporation Review Board's decision to dismiss the incorporation petition filed by the citizens group.

"We are going to appeal because we were not provided a fair and impartial hearing by the Department of Administration and the Incorporation Review Board. There were numerous violations of the state administrative rule statute, and the Department of Administration's findings are full of factual errors that the board based its decision on," said Denise Wenger, a spokeswoman for Lisbon-Inc.org.

"In addition, we are going to seek a refund of the $25,000 filing fee that we had to pay because the department failed to meet the 180-day filing deadline to notify the court of their decision," she added.

Wenger and former Town Supervisors Robert Williams and Wendy Landry, all founders of the citizens group, met behind closed doors with town officials for nearly an hour Monday night. According to Wenger and several other sources, Town Attorney Kathy Gutenkunst told the Town Board that it was likely that a court would determine the town could not participate directly in an appeal of the Incorporation Review Board decision because the Town Board was not a party in the proceedings.

The Town Board opted not to become an intervener in the case when the incorporation petition was initially presented to the Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Gutenkunst also reportedly told the Town Board that she thought it unlikely that an appeal could be successful because Wisconsin courts have been hesitant to overturn administrative hearing rulings like the Incorporation Review Board decision.

The board apparently decided, without taking a formal vote, that it could not justify spending town money on a legal battle board members weren't sure they could win.

"I understand and respect the Town Board's decision," Wenger said after the meeting.

"I want to emphasize there will be no town tax dollars paying for our appeal; I know there are some town residents concerned about that," she added.

Wenger said Franklin Attorney Michael Krill, who has represented Lisbon-Inc.org throughout the incorporation battle, is willing to represent the citizens group in an appeal for no fee. Krill could not be reached for comment.

Wenger said Krill is willing to provide the pro-bono services because he thinks the outcome of the appeal could have a significant statewide impact on how other administrative hearings are conducted and rulings issued.

Wenger said the group and its attorney are studying numerous options for an appeal, which would likely be filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court and perhaps based on a number of procedural errors made by the Department of Administration conducting the hearing.

One of those procedural errors, Wenger pointed out, is the department's failure to meet a required 180-day deadline for filing its findings and determinations with the Waukesha County Circuit Court.

The deadline for filing the Incorporation Review Board's decision with the court was June 19, a Sunday. The board held a telephone conference call meeting on Wednesday, June 15, to review the staff's final determination. While four of the board members were evenly split over whether to approve the petition, the newly appointed board chairwoman, Dawn Vick, who has the final say in the decision, supported the Department of Administration's staff recommendation to reject the petition.

Vick is a high-ranking administrator in the department whose staff recommended turning down the petition.

Department of Administration officials had planned to send the decision to the court via registered mail on Friday, June 17, so it would be in the court's hands by June 19. However, court officials said they did not receive the decision until Monday, June 20, and placed it on the court docket on June 21.

Wenger maintains that Lisbon-Inc.org is entitled to a refund on the $25,000 filing fee since the department failed to submit its findings on time.

Department officials were not available for immediate comment since it is their policy to require reporters to submit questions by email. Often it is several days before the department responds to the emailed questions.