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Kekoskee plan draws fire from Mayville, support from Williamstown residents

April 13, 2018 GMT

Residents spoke for and against a proposal that would create a new village in Dodge County at a public hearing Thursday that drew around 50 people to the Kekoskee Fire Department.

The village of Kekoskee plans to dissolve and merge into the rural, unincorporated town of Williamstown and form a new, incorporated village of Williamstown. The idea needs to be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which will release its decision May 10.

Officials in Kekoskee said it’s best to dissolve because there’s not much interest among people in the village, which has about 160 people, in running it. The town of Williamstown has about 755 people.

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However, another issue came up during the hearing. Official representatives as well as several Williamstown residents spoke out against Mayville’s ability to block land subdivision close to, but outside of, its boundaries. It has used that power from time to time over the years.

“We don’t have control over the city, but the city exercises control over us,” said resident Paul Sucey. He invoked the American Revolution and the dispute between the colonists and the British in his comments.

The city of Mayville officially opposes the merger. The new village of Williamstown would engulf the city and those opposed to the merger say it make it more difficult for Mayville to annex land and grow. The city would be landlocked, they said.

An attorney representing the city in the matter even questioned whether the proposal is appropriate under the law and said Mayville is willing to take it to court.

John St. Peter, the attorney representing Kekoskee and Williamstown, dismissed concerns over growth.

“We know the city has to grow and it will,” he said.

Scott Sabol, the superintendent of the Mayville School District, said the district is concerned about how the plan would affect growth and, therefore, school population as well as district operations in a Williamstown that would remain more rural and spread out.

Randy Clark of RCI Engineering in Mayville wondered whether businesses would want to invest in Mayville if they think the city can’t grow.

Joe Hohmann, the clerk of the Mayville School Board, spoke as a resident and said the plan is the “most ridiculous, preposterous, and dumbfounding thing” he has ever heard.

Mayville’s Common Council has already voted to terminate an emergency services agreement it has with the still-unincorporated Williamstown if a boundary agreement is not set and the merger goes through, turning Williamstown from a town into a village.

The Department of Administration will take written comments from the public about the proposal in advance of its May 10 decision. The public comment period closes April 23. To make a comment, contact Erich Schmidtke at erich.schmidtke@wisconsin.gov or call 608-264-6102.