New Richmond, Town of Star Prairie drawing future boundaryIt took five years of negotiations, but the City of New Richmond and the Town of Star Prairie are one step closer to a historic boundary agreement thanks to a public hearing March 27.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
It took five years of negotiations, but the City of New Richmond and the Town of Star Prairie are one step closer to a historic boundary agreement thanks to a public hearing March 27.
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 into the township for the next 40 years and beyond.
At the recent joint meeting of the town board and city council, local residents were able to express their concerns and ask questions about the proposed plan. Not all the questions were answered, but it appeared by the end of the meeting that nothing significant was uncovered that could derail the agreement process.
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, a defined border will be established between New Richmond and the Town of Star Prairie.
The boundary agreement identifies a specific number of parcels (about 3,800 acres) within the township that may 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.
Ellen Denzer, senior planner with St. Croix County, urged both municipalities to clearly define how ordinances will be enforced within the URA. She also suggested that it be made clear what ordinances apply to the land in question – township, county and/or city ordinances. Or, Denzer asked, would new ordinances would be approved to deal specifically deal with the newly established URA.
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.
An Urban Reserve Commission, made up of equal representation from the town and city, would be created to deal with any disputes that may occur within the URA.
Township landowner Michele Hermansen said she was concerned that property rights of current owners would be limited if the agreement was adopted. She suggested that her 20 acres, which currently is used to board horses, if it were sold and annexed into the city would not be allowed to continue as a horse operation.
“As landowners, we are powerless, because there are so many entities that have eminent domain over our property,” she said.
City Council member Jane Hanson said, however, that if the land use doesn’t change, it likely could continue to be used in that fashion.
And nothing will change for at least 40 years, meaning that most current owners will no longer be living on their property when issues could arise, Mayor Fred Horne added.
If it’s formally adopted, the boundary agreement will be forwarded to the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which must approve all such agreements in the state.
Area residents have until April 16 to further comment or ask questions related to the proposed agreement.
For the most part, the elected officials were congratulated for their hard work on the agreement.
“You’ve done an outstanding job on a very difficult issue,” said town resident Gary Hanson.
“This is an unusual agreement,” said Patrick Overton, consultant for the Government Entities Network who has been working with the two municipalities for two years to hammer out an agreement. “It’s the only one of its kind in the state.”
Overton said the 40-year term and the 70-percent development requirement allows both the city and town to effectively plan for the future, yet provides landowners many options for the future use of their property.
State officials have indicated that they plan to use the local agreement as an example of how similar agreements can be created between two municipalities.