• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no echo chambers. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! You can also register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account.

Why Wisconsin is going to Hell #4

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
"Charter Townships"

Townships in Wiscosnin are a unit of government left over from the 1800's, that are essentially rural. Most do not have a single full-time employee, and the county has jurisdiction over many aspects of governance in areas such as planning. In an ideal world, towns would remain rural. As land urbanizes, it would be annexed to a city, which would impose strict land regulations and connect it to city utilities, etc.

Town governments have chafed at the fact that they do not have the same powers as cities, while not realizing that they also do not have the same responsibilities. A bill has been introduced in the legislature to allow towns to become "charter towns." Among the things that would enable them to do:

- allow towns to prohibit cities from annexing land;
- eliminate city's right to extraterritorial plat review;
- exempt the town from county zoning ordinances;
- deny jurisdiction of the county assessor within the town;
- prohibit cities from acquiring land in the town, by any means or for any purpose;
- allow towns to deny cities the right to construct public utilities through the town lands;
- allow towns to create tax incremental financing districts.

Should this be called the "Kill Cities" or the "Sprawl Growth" legislation?
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
I don't know how I feel about this. When I worked for a consulting firm, we were working for a Town and it kind of seemed like they got the shaft (or at least that is how they presented it).
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
My gods honest opinion is that in rural areas, towns should be abandoned and their governance taken over by the county. We have literally 100's of town governments run by in farmers. 200 years ago that was okay, but in today's society a little sophistication is required. (Sorry farmers). Unfortunately, that's heresy. In urban areas, the remaining towns should be incorporated or consolidated with neighboring municipalities.

NOTE: "Township" and "Town" are frequently used in the wrong context. Township is a surveying term for the (typical) 6 mile -by- 6 mile area of land. Town refers to the governing / legal entity.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
bturk said:
NOTE: "Township" and "Town" are frequently used in the wrong context. Township is a surveying term for the (typical) 6 mile -by- 6 mile area of land. Town refers to the governing / legal entity.
Right. That is a leftover from my Illinois experience.

I also agree that town government is an anachronism, particularly in the most rural areas. While some do have good political leadership, the opposite is true of the majority. The root of the problem is that they are too small to have employees, and so lack any professional staff. They are trying to run a government without any training, education, or knowledge of public administration, planning, finance, public utilities - I can go on. They are as unqualified to be doing this as most of us would be at working a farm.
 

Maroon

Cyburbian
Messages
45
Points
2
Governing townships

bturk said:
[NOTE: "Township" and "Town" are frequently used in the wrong context. Township is a surveying term for the (typical) 6 mile -by- 6 mile area of land. Town refers to the governing / legal entity.]
In the case of Indiana, townships are also legal subdivisions of the county and have their own responsibilities. They have significantly decreased in importance since the early 1960s, when control of schools was passed to independant school corporations.

Indiana townships are run by a Trustee and Advisory Board. Remaining responsibilities include collecting and administering the dog tax, fire departments in unincorporated areas, and emergency poor relief. Townships are not contiguous with surveying townships.

Towns are a class of incorporated area in the state. So, Camden, Indiana is a town located in Jackson Township, Carroll County.

According to the Peoria Jorunal Star, twenty states have some form of township government.

More than you ever wanted to know about townships, I'd guess.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: Governing townships

Maroon said:
...administering the dog tax...
Another reason they must go!



Just when I thought it could not get worse, here are a few important items introduced by the Wisconsin Senate Committee On Homeland Security, Veterans and Military Affairs and Government Reform:

SB 87 would not allow cities to annex territory not in a county in which they already have territory. This is an issue for my city, in two counties and bordering a third. The bill would also not allow annexation to occur unless the entire annexation follows one or more of the following: 1) a surveyor’s section line that is no lower than a quarter–quarter section line; 2) natural boundaries; or 3) the center line of a highway.

SB 88 would eliminate cities' extraterritorial review ability unless the town has adopted a resolution approving the city's subdivision ordinance and official map.

SB89 would not allow annexation to occur unless the annexation is approved in a referendum in the town from which the territory is being annexed.


As bturk says, it is time to get rid of town government.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Mike, those bills or ones like them are introduced EVERY year by the Wisconsin Towns Association. For the moment, the urban lobbyists have been successful in getting them stuck in committee where they die a quiet death. However, as our population continues to decentralize, we could be in trouble. Have you noticed that

1. Rural legislators are predominantly Republican, while urban legislators are generally Decocrats.

2. Our legislature has been very closely split between Repulicans and Dems, and the balancve swings every year.

3. These bills are (almost) always introduced by rural republican legislators.

One of these years I fear it will happen. And it won't happen with debate. Some a-hole will attach it as a rider to the biennial buget and it will sail through unannouced just like the Smartgorwth legislation did.
 
Top