Residents invited to comment on boundary agreementAfter five long years of negotiations, the City of New Richmond and the Town of Star Prairie are nearing a historic boundary agreement.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
After five long years of negotiations, the City of New Richmond and the Town of Star Prairie are nearing a historic boundary agreement.
The agreement, which must gain final approval by the Star Prairie Town Board and the New Richmond City Council, would direct and limit the city’s growth for the next 40 years and beyond.
“The boundary agreement allows both communities to plan,” said New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne. “New Richmond knows what the future boundary will be, and the Town of Star Prairie knows it will live on forever. I think it’s a fair agreement for both communities.”
Town of Star Prairie Chairman Doug Rivard agreed.
“I think it works out well for both parties,” he said.
During the housing boom of the early 2000s, New Richmond annexed significant township property to meet growing demand for housing lots. No matter what happens with city growth from here on, Horne said, a defined border will be established.
“We will not go beyond the agreed boundary,” he said. Without such an established boundary, the city could annex deeper into the township to provide land for growth.
“It helps us know how big we’re going to remain,” Rivard noted.
The boundary agreement identifies a specific number of parcels within the township that will eventually be annexed into the city, once residential or commercial development occurs on the land.
The Urban Reserve Area (URA) includes all township land from the current city limits, east along 180th Avenue to 100th Street, north to 192nd Street. Then the boundary heads back west to 115th Street, where it goes north to 200th Street. The boundary then heads east to 118th Street, where it goes north to County Road C. The northern boundary then follows east to the border of Stanton Township and follows that line back to the city limits.
The URA would be established for a minimum of 40 years. If, after those first 40 years, more than 70 percent of the land in that area is developed, the entire chunk of land would attach to the city. If the 70 percent level has not yet been reached, the annexation would be delayed until that percentage is reached.
In the years leading up to the 40-year window, landowners within that URA can still request to be immediately annexed into the city. Properties would also be annexed right away if a parcel is divided for the purpose of building a home or business. The only exception to that, however, is if the division of property is requested so that an immediate family member can build a home. If that home, which was originally constructed by a family member, is sold to someone outside the family, the property would attach to the city right away.
“So we are not really forcing anyone now in the township into the city,” Horne said. “Very few people ever live in the same home for 40 years, so this gives people time to remain in the township if they so choose.”
Horne said he’s been impressed with the amount of work that’s gone into the agreement so far. The ups and downs of negotiations was challenging at times, he admitted, but town officials and city officials saw the process through to the end.
“There were a lot of times we thought it would never happen,” he said.
Rivard said other communities working on similar agreements have spent years on the process and given up. That didn’t happen here, thanks to the hard work of many.
“We had some tough moments but we finally got it through,” Rivard said. “It’s something we wanted to get done.”
The final boundary agreement draft is now up for comment by members of the public.
Two open houses are planned in the coming weeks to answer questions about the agreement. The first open house is Sunday, March 25, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Town of Star Prairie Hall. A second open house will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, at the Town of Star Prairie Hall.
A public hearing will follow the March 27 open house. Members of the public can comment and make suggestions concerning the proposed plan beginning at 6:30 p.m. that evening.
After the public hearing, the Star Prairie Town Board and the New Richmond City Council will make any necessary changes to the plan, taking into account the feedback from residents. The two municipalities will then take a final vote on the proposal.
Once adopted, the boundary agreement will be forwarded to the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which must approve all such agreements in the state.
Rivard said state officials are impressed with the local agreement.
“They want to use it as a pattern for other cities and towns to copy in the future,” he said.