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New Richmond, Town of Star Prairie forge a plan to direct future development

Town of Star Prairie Board Chairman Doug Rivard (left) and New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne place their signatures on the final resolution and the actual boundary agreement between their two municipalities. The agreement is the first of its kind in St. Croix County.1 / 2
Monday's ceremonial signing event at the New Richmond American Legion Hall was well attended by area officials. Among those in attendance were (front, left to right) State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, Star Prairie Town Chairman Doug Rivard, New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne and State Rep. John Murtha. (Middle row) New Richmond Planning Commission member Bob Mullen, Star Prairie Town Supervisor Scott Counter, New Richmond Planning and Community Development Director Robert Barbian, New Richmond Alderman Jane Hansen, ...2 / 2

It took more than six years to accomplish, but the Town of Star Prairie and the City of New Richmond have officially signed off on a boundary agreement.

Representatives from each of the local municipalities were on hand Monday night for a ceremonial signing event at the American Legion Hall in New Richmond. They were joined by other county and local officials, as well as State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and State Rep. John Murtha, who all wanted to be a part of the historic evening.

The 104-page agreement was negotiated with the help of Patrick Overton, facilitator with the Front Porch Project and the Government Entities Network.

The agreement allows for the orderly growth and development of the city, while guaranteeing the township that it will continue to exist in its current form for at least 40 years.

According to the agreement, if 70 percent of the designated "urban reserve area" within the township is developed over the next 40 years, the entire chunk of property will automatically annex into the city. Individual properties that develop will be annexed into the city right away, unless a new home is built by a family member of any of the current owners.

According to Robert Barbian, New Richmond's planning and community development director, the agreement "clears away the uncertainty" for landowners who are near the city's current border.

State law provides cities with under 10,000 population one and one half miles of extra-territorial zoning authority around their perimeters into adjoining township land. Under that authority, cities can reject certain proposed housing or commercial developments if their designs don't meet city standards.

The extra-territorial distance increases to three miles when a city population reaches 10,000.

Under the agreement signed, New Richmond's extra-territorial reach will remain at one and a half miles into the Town of Star Prairie. It establishes a specific future border that will allow both the city and the town to know its future size if development occurs in the coming years.

As they completed signing the documents, New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne and Star Prairie Town Chairman Doug Rivard shook hands and congratulated each other for the historic cooperative effort.

"There are a lot of people who said this would never happen," Rivard said. "It's taken six and a half years and a lot of trees (referring to the amount of paper generated due to the agreement)."

Horne said the agreement is a win-win situation for both communities and their respective residents.

"It's proof of what you can do when you sit down with your neighbors," he said. "We're proud of what we've done here."

The signed agreement will be forwarded to the Department of Administration, which will review the document and either approve it or send it back for adjustments. Rivard said state officials have indicated that they think the agreement is a good one.

"They want to use this as a model for others towns and cities in the state," he noted.