January 6, 2020 – Hartford, WI – I am writing to express serious concern about the agenda item on Wednesday’s County Board Meeting agenda regarding the issue of seeking annexation of the golf course property by the City of Hartford. I believe that the decision made on this issue reaches much farther than the golf course property itself.
The golf course property is the gateway that opens the way for further long-range development into valuable existing farmland north of the City of Hartford. I believe the county supervisors need to carefully consider this annexation issue and the delicate balance between city development and the agricultural economy of Washington County.
I understand that change is inevitable and agree with Supervisor McCune when he stated at a recent Executive Committee Meeting that “we could be looking at something completely different 20 years from now with the game of golf.” Supervisor McCune also stressed the need for flexibility in the use of this golf course property; however, please consider how this whole issue has developed.
Earlier this year, the Town of Hartford Zoning Board refused to rezone a three-acre parcel just west of the Family Park so that several lots could be developed and sold. When that Board declined to approve the rezoning, the response by Supervisor McCune was to bring forth to the Executive Committee the discussion on seeking annexation for all of the county-owned land at that location, including the golf course. For many of us taxpayers looking on, this has rapidly grown from a small issue into an enormous question with significant long-lasting impacts.
These impacts could endanger the future of rural agriculture in the immediate area for years to come – long past the 20 years referred to by Supervisor McCune. It is no secret many farmers in our area and all around Wisconsin are struggling; part of that struggle involves the farmers’ ability to rent or secure enough acreage to maintain their dairy herds. For dairy farmers, their milk checks are their primary income – if they can’t grow and provide enough feed for their herds, they are out of business.
So how does this relate to the annexation of the County’s golf course by the City of Hartford? Annexation by the City of Hartford isn’t just about flexibility or the capability to hook up utilities.
As I mentioned earlier, the golf course property serves as the gateway for further annexation by the City of Hartford and further residential development into valuable existing farmland – farmland that currently enables local farmers to feed their herds and stay in business. Currently the surrounding farmland is protected from development because the golf course property is within the Town of Hartford, so adjoining land cannot be annexed; the proposed annexation would change that.
Perhaps that development will come in the future and may even be necessary – but today’s not that day…
This issue will be discussed at the County Board meeting this Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. at the Washington County Administrative Building on Hwy 33 – please consider attending the meeting or contacting County Board Supervisors to ask them to vote no to this resolution or at least to table the resolution to provide opportunity and time for further consideration and for a public meeting and taxpayer input.
Please help us protect the delicate balance that exists in Washington County between city development and the valuable agricultural economy.
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