Caledonia, WI - Voters of Caledonia decisively passed a referendum last week, making Caledonia Wisconsin’s newest village. The historic vote followed three years of intense collaborative efforts between Town leadership and legal counsel, Michael Best and Friedrich attorneys Bill White, Chad Taylor and Reince Priebus.
“The Michel Best team was instrumental in identifying a viable legislative solution following the Department of Administration’s rejection,” said Town Board Chairman Jonathan Delagrave. “This incorporation is a victory for the Town of Caledonia, one made possible by the work of Michael Best and Friedrich.”
The Town of Caledonia is the largest in the State of Wisconsin with approximately 25,000 residents. Most Wisconsin towns are rural and offer basic municipal services such as tax collection, road construction and fire protection.
Caledonia had hit a roadblock in its attempts to incorporate. “This situation required innovative approaches, and ultimately, a legislative solution,” said Michael Best Attorney Chad Taylor. “We worked with thoughtful elected officials, and built a process whereby the wishes of the people of Caledonia to become a village were accomplished.”
With new village status the Town of Caledonia will be able to control land use zoning and subdivision powers; provide tax incremental financing for businesses desiring to locate in Caledonia; stabilize borders for the future; allow for more appropriate level of municipal services; and fully realize the benefits of their sewer agreements.
VILLAGE OF CALEDONIA / ADD ONE
The Town of Caledonia’s initial incorporation efforts with the State Department of Administration (DOA) were unsuccessful. Instead DOA recommended that Caledonia split, becoming a village and a town and dividing the community.
In order to achieve village status, the Town of Caledonia had to overcome state law and the interpretation of that law requiring the town be split into two separate communities. New legislative language was drafted and passed in July, allowing the Town of Caledonia to pursue incorporation.
The new state law allows a town to incorporate as a city or village under an expedited process that does not require circuit court or State Department of Administration review. While the State Department of Administration initially ruled that only half of the Town would be entitled to vote on whether the Town should be a village, the new law approved the right for all citizens of Caledonia to make this determination through a referendum.
In order to receive approval, a majority of the votes cast in the referendum had to be cast in favor of incorporation as a city or village. Additionally, an adjacent second-class city must adopt a resolution approving the incorporation of the town. The voters of the Town of Caledonia passed the referendum by a margin of 86 percent.
“The voters have made their choice to proceed to the next level of government, and we know this is the best choice for everyone in the area,” said Delagrave. “Incorporation will allow us to promote economic development, preserve our rural character and avoid the threat of annexation by nearby villages and cities.”