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Judge issues partial stay in Kekoskee case

January 9, 2019

JUNEAU — Mayville and Kekoskee agreed to maintain the status quo in their ongoing dispute Tuesday.

Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Sciascia issued an order that Mayville be allowed to review land divisions within 1.5 miles of its border. He also ruled that zoning changes in that area would have to go through Dodge County review. He said this was “the main toe that was being stepped on.”

The city of Mayville and village of Kekoskee have had a series of ongoing disputes since the state granted permission for the town of Williamstown and Kekoskee to merge, creating a new village that completely surrounds Mayville.

Matt Parmentier, representing Kekoskee, and James Hammes, representing Mayville, agreed to the arrangement, which will continue until the ongoing legal disputes are resolved.

That is the way land division and zoning worked when the land around the city of Mayville was still part of the unincorporated town of Williamstown. Kekoskee officials were present on Tuesday and met with their attorney during a court recess to discuss the agreement.

Mayville was originally asking for Sciascia to put a complete stay on the state’s decision to allow Williamstown to attach to Kekoskee. The city is appealing the state’s decision and further court action will come soon.

The control Mayville exercised over land outside its borders has been a sticking point. The town of Williamstown, now Kekoskee, surrounded Mayville. Mayville could not only annex land from Williamstown, but had a say in land divisions and zoning changes within 1.5 miles of its borders.

As a full village, Kekoskee would not be subject to such restrictions, and Mayville would not be able to annex land as before, either. At a public hearing in the spring, many Williamstown residents spoke out against the powers Mayville had over Williamstown property. Hammes argued that, under state law, such powers are necessary to allow for cities to grow. Officials in Mayville have opposed the Kekoskee decision because of concerns over how the changes will affect the city’s ability to grow.

The state approved Kekoskee’s plan for a “city growth area,” where the village would not stand in the way of property owners who would wish to attach their properties into Mayville.

Mayville is appealing the decision by the state’s Department of Administration to allow Williamstown to attach to Kekoskee, arguing that the department did not properly apply state law and the changes should be reversed. The department and Kekoskee, as separate parties in the appeal, are arguing that the law was applied correctly, and that the decision should remain in place.

The case will likely move beyond the Dodge County Circuit Court and further up in the court system. Sciascia said Tuesday that he believed if the decision got thrown out eventually, it would be difficult to sort back out.

“This whole thing has created a mess in a lot of ways,” he said.

Sciascia scheduled a decision hearing for March 14. All parties will need to submit briefs and replies by Feb. 20.

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