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Letter to the Editor | Washington County pushing annexation of County Golf Course and Family Park | By Laurel Jaeke

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January 9, 2021 – Hartford, WI – The Washington County Supervisors voted 15-8 on Jan. 8, 2020 authorizing petition, 2019 Resolution 55 for annexation of the Washington County Family Park Golf Course and Family Park (approximately 283 acres) to the City of Hartford from the Town of Hartford. The county indicated this annexation request and ability to sell/develop the park property meant further development and revenue for the county and would increase all property values in the long run. (See below) The city meetings have been scheduled and in just two weeks a decision will be made.
  • Hartford City Plan Commission’s meeting is on Monday, January 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. This non-binding recommendation will be sent to the common council for their final vote.
  • Hartford City Common Council’s meeting is on Tuesday, January 26 at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. Both the annexation request and the land use agreement will have public hearings.

How did we get here?

On Sept. 4, 2019, the Town of Hartford Plan Commission rejected to re-zone a three-acre parcel on the western portion of Family Park to residential so several lots could be developed. At the Sept. 9, 2019 Town of Hartford Board meeting, a motion was passed to refer the discussion to the City of Hartford and Town of Hartford Joint Plan Commission. This is necessary since a multi-jurisdiction agreement exists because the township is within a three mile radius of the city.

Late Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 this joint plan commission meeting set for Nov 11 was cancelled due to conflicts for two city members, one of which was the mayor. The following Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 Supervisior Mark McCune drafted this request, “Dear Mr. Chairman, I firmly request that an item be placed on the next Executive Meeting agenda. I would like to formally request that Washington County ask the City of Hartford to allow Washington County to annex the golf course from the Town of Harford to the City of Hartford. I believe this action is in the best interest of Washington County – both currently and for our future.” At the Dec. 17, 2019 Executive Committee meeting, members of that committee that included Mr McCune, the mayor of Hartford, as well as county staff discussed where the city services (water/sewer laterals) would likely connect from when future services were requested.

Could a conflict of interest exist when the mayor of the city is also a Washington County Supervisor, a member of the county’s Executive Committee, the chair on the city’s plan commission, and the chair of the City/Town Joint Plan Commission? And apparently the joint plan commission meeting was cancelled? This land split, instead of being addressed by the municipalites as it should have been, instead was escalated to the county board for a vote immediately following the holidays in 2020 just like this vote.

The resolution that passed on Jan. 8, 2020 states, “WHEREAS, in order to keep the Washington County Family Park Golf Course operating as a self-sustaining enterprise for the foreseeable future, it is necessary to consider options that will enable the golf course to continue to be a successful endeavor; and WHEREAS, the Washington County Board of Supervisors believes that annexation of the Washington County Family Park Golf Course into the City of Hartford will increase the value of the property and enhance development around the course which will benefit the people of Washington County.”

How does this annexation vote affect Town of Hartford residents?

Annexation requests are normally petitioned by the property owner when city services are requested. Neither sewer or water is needed at this time for the golf course/clubhouse per the County Executive, Josh Schoemann. Who stands to gain from the annexation request? What benefit is the golf course receiving by being part of the city rather than the town?

For residents on Ernst Drive where over half of the properties share a boundary with the golf course, will sewer/water laterals being extended prevent us from continuing to use and/or replace our private wells and septic systems? In looking at other state municipalities, mandates exist requiring property owners to connect within one year if their parcel of land abutts any public right-of-way or easement where functioning water or sewer mains exists. Is that the intention of the county/city leaders? For the town properties in both the Hillcrest Estates and Gateway subdivisions an intermunicipal agreement signed in 1988 between the city and town protects those properties. Where is the protection for any landowner whose property borders the Washington County Family Park Golf Course from further city expansion?

There were many individuals who donated farms, land, and money to build this golf course and park. How can the county now decide to split the land and sell the park for development with no city services and pay city taxes? What will the county be selling next?

There is no doubt this annexation petition will have long-term consequences for everyone involved. Personally, I find this to be a government assault on my/our rights as a property owner that will likely change when laterals are pushed into my neighborhood and perhaps your neighborhood is next? What subdivision or farm will be next? Simply, this continued march into successful agricultural lands also prevents farmers from growing the crops they need to support their cows, and they may no longer be able to continue farming. I urge you to think about the long term ramifications of passively allowing the city of Hartford to impede upon the town of Hartford where city services are neither wanted or desired.

This vote will change our county neighborhoods and farmlands forever.

Plan Commission:

Chair:              Timothy Michalak – 262-670-1119 -and- [email protected]

Members:       Tony Andereck

Scott Henke

Ralph Kuepper

Dennis Regan

Tom Stapleton

Common Council:

Mayor:            Timothy Michalak – 262-670-1119 -and- [email protected]

Members:       Joseph Fulop Dist# 1 – 262-673-9200 -and- [email protected]

Jeff Turchi Dist# 1 – 262-442-5129 -and- [email protected]

Joseph Kohler Dist# 1 – 262-673-4637 -and- jkohler[email protected]

Doug Carroll Dist# 2 – 920-988-4913 -and- [email protected]

Dennis Hegy Dist# 2 – 262-673-6705 -and- [email protected]

Wayne Rusniak Dist# 2 – 262-673-5740 -and- [email protected]

Rachel Mixon Dist# 3 – 262-951-6500 -and- [email protected]

Kyle Sikora Dist# 3 – 262-271-5627 -and- [email protected]

Tony Garza Dist# 3 – 262-670-8669 -and- [email protected]

Laurel Jaeke, Concerned Town of Hartford Resident

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