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New Richmond, Town of Star Prairie approve historic agreement

For more than six years, the Town of Star Prairie and the City of New Richmond have been trying to be more neighborly.

Their efforts have finally paid off, as the final version of a long-debated boundary agreement was approved by both municipal governments over the past week.

The Town of Star Prairie Board acted on the measure Aug. 7 and the New Richmond City Council unanimously approved it Monday, Aug. 13. A ceremonial signing celebration is planned for 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at the New Richmond American Legion Hall.

New Richmond Mayor Fred Horne likened the boundary agreement process to two neighbors meeting at their shared fence to work out their differences and come to a mutually-agreeable solution.

"We worked hard and long with our neighbors over six and a half years to get to this day," he said. "It's a good testament to our neighbors that we were able to work this out."

The agreement puts limits on how far the city can expand into the Town of Star Prairie over the next few decades.

An urban reserve area has been established which could end up within the boundaries of the city in 40 years, if 70 percent of that property is developed over that period of time. Any individual properties developed in that area will be annexed into the city immediately, unless someone who is building the home is a family member of the current landowner.

The agreement allows town officials to plan for the future, according to Town Chairman Doug Rivard. Town officials now know what their future boundaries will be and will not be facing further annexation action that would lessen their taxable land.

The agreement also allows the city to plan for the future, Horne said, as city services are extended to properties in that urban reserve area.

The push for the boundary agreement began with New Richmond's Front Porch Project, which encouraged community leaders to work together toward common goals. The Government Entities Network, consisting of representatives from all the area municipalities, was formed to foster more cooperation among neighboring communities.

New Richmond Council member Craig Kittel thanked Horne, Rivard and Front Porch Project coordinator Patrick Overton for their commitment to working the details of the agreement.

"A lot of people put in a lot of hard work," Horne said.

Rivard agreed, noting that two city mayors and two city administrators have had their hand in the process. In the end, both the township and city will benefit from that effort, he said.

"I think this is what's best for both communities," he said.