City-Village reconciliation law enacted.

Governor Doyle signed Act 173 into law. This new law makes a number of changes to the statutes concerning city and village laws. It reconciles a number of inconsistencies that existed for no apparent reason. There were too many changes to review in this blog. You can view the new law here.

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Plain Language Reigns – “certification” required, but there is substance beneath the plain language surface formality!

In a recent unpublished decision, Johnson v. Washburn County and Town of Spooner, the Johnsons had applied to the County to rezone a parcel they owned from forestry to PUD (planned unit development). The County forwarded the request to the Town and the Town sent back the form the County had provided with the word “denial” on it, but with no reasons stated for the denial. Although it was signed by the Town Chair, the two Town Supervisors and the Clerk, there was no showing that there had been a public board meeting or resolution passed. The County approved the rezone anyway, but only then did the Town pass a formal resolution disapproving the rezone and supposedly invalidating the County action. The County then told the Johnsons that the rezone was effectively invalidated by the Town. The Johnsons sued. The circuit court held that although the Town had not given the County a “certified” denial, that the substance of the form they had submitted was sufficient. The Appeals Court said no – a certified form was required. The reason that the certified form is required is to insure that the Town held a proper public meeting and passed a formal resolution. Reading between the lines, one might say the Appeals Court noted that open government is required in Wisconsin, and that the certified form was the way the public could be ensured that the local board acted in an open and impartial manner.

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Senate Bill Would Impact a Municipality’s Ability to Regulate Sex Offenders

Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee has introduced 2009 Senate Bill 548 which would prohibit certain convicted sex offenders (while they are on parole, probation, extended supervision, conditional release, or supervised release), for the most part from entering areas where persons under 16 years of age congregate, including schools, day care centers, playgrounds, parks, and published school bus stops.

Tucked into this bill is a provision that would invalidate local ordinances which prohibit or regulate loitering by sex offenders and regulate residencies of sex offenders. The bill would prohibit a city, village, town, or county from enacting or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that specifically affects the placement, residency, or areas that may not be entered or exited by, a registered sex offender. It’s early yet, and I’m sure we can expect vocal opposition.

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Distressed TID (TIF) Bill Moving Through the Legislature.

On February 25th, the Senate Committee on Economic Development unanimously voted to recommend passage of the amended distressed TIF bill, SB 291. The Assembly has already passed a similar version of this bill, but without the amendments. The bill authorizes a city or village to designate a TID that was created before October 1, 2008, as “distressed” if certain conditions exist, a major condition being that project costs incurred on the TID exceed the revenues the municipality expects the TID to generate during its lifetime. If a TID meets the conditions to be designated distressed, the life of the TID can be extended ten years, and possibly forty years depending on how dire the TID circumstances.