Town Veto of County Rezone

A recent case reminds us that municipal governments should take care to follow statutory procedures to ensure their policy decisions are effective. In Town of Rice Lake v. Barron County, a landowner applied to the County to rezone some property. The Town was notified, and passed a resolution recommending denial of the rezone. After a public hearing and some other procedural steps, the County Board eventually approved the rezone. The Town then passed a resolution purporting to veto the rezone, as it may do under Wis. Stat. 59.69(5)(e)6. The County however decided that the Town action was invalid because the Town had not “strictly complied” with certain procedures. The Town sued and eventually won – the Court deciding that the Town has “substantially complied” and that there was no prejudice to the County. Thus the Town veto was upheld by the Court, but if the Town had followed the procedures correctly in the first place, it may have avoided a costly court battle with the County.

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