Judge delays hearing in Brookfield annexation

Appeals court will decide whether hearing is OK

Oct. 24, 2012

A judge's ruling last week will delay the town of Brookfield's plan to annex part of the town of Waukesha so it can incorporate as a village.

The annexation of 288 acres is necessary because a village must have a minimum of four square miles of land.

The matter now is in the hands of the District IV Court of Appeals, which will decide if the town of Brookfield can hold a public hearing.

Circuit Court Judge James Kieffer ruled to delay the Oct. 23 hearing so the town of Waukesha may appeal the annexation.

Town of Waukesha Chairwoman Angie Van Scyoc said her community is appealing the annexation because the proposed annexation would mean the loss of $35 million in assessed valuation.

Also seeks voice

Van Scyoc said the appeal also involves reinstating the town of Waukesha's formal say in the matter. She said it is unfair that the incorporation proceedings from early in 2012 blocked Waukesha from having equal voice about annexation details with other surrounding communities including the city of Brookfield, city of Waukesha and the village of Sussex.

"Not only is the town of Brookfield attempting to hijack town of Waukesha residents, they are fighting to limit the town of Waukesha's ability to protect them against this aggression through legal maneuvering," Van Scyoc said in an email to constituents.

In that same email, Van Scyoc said town of Waukesha property owners also are affected by legal expenses required to protect them from annexation.

"I don't know what their motivation is," Van Scyoc said.

Protecting borders

Town of Brookfield officials have said incorporation is necessary in order to protect its future. Under state law, a portion or all of a town may be annexed by a neighboring community. Becoming a village would prevent that from happening.

James Hammes, attorney for the town of Brookfield, said he expects a ruling on the status of the hearing and annexation by February. He also noted that annexation of land by one town from another is not unprecedented.

"I'm not interested in arguing the annexation in the media," he said.

Looking for decision

Jay Walt, the town of Brookfield resident who is the petitioner in the annexation, said delaying a hearing would only increase legal fees for the town of Waukesha.

"I recognize that there have been complaints from communities about the cost of the lawyers involved and the validity of our petition," Walt said. "My question would be why not have the hearing sooner than latter to reduce those fees and have the validity judged."

Past attempts by the town of Brookfield to incorporate have failed because a small portion of its land to the northwest is not contiguous. The town is trying to remove that land from its boundaries in exchange for adding the 288 acres situated just south and west of its current borders.

The backdrop of the annexation issues is an ambitious tax incremental financing district proposed by the town of Brookfield in order to support The Corners commercial district by the Marcus Corporation. Hammes and Walt noted that annexation and development are not connected.

"In no way are they connected with each other," Walt said.


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