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BDCFILE Kekoskee sign (copy)

A sign welcomes people to Kekoskee. The village proposed to merge itself into the town of Williamstown and form a new village of Williamstown, but the state denied the request. The village and town are working to revise the proposal for approval. 

MAYVILLE — The town of Williamstown is suggesting a major change in its plan to combine with the village of Kekoskee.

The incorporated Kekoskee hopes to dissolve and combine with the unincorporated Williamstown, forming a new incorporated village of Williamstown. Such a village would completely surround the city of Mayville, where officials oppose the idea and say it would stunt the city’s growth.

The state rejected the original proposal in May, but invited the village and town to submit revisions within 90 days.

A significant revision the town and village are now proposing is a “city growth area.” Kekoskee and Williamstown would identify a portion of a possible new village from which Mayville could attach property to itself as long as the property touches the city and the owners give their consent.

“The town and village never intended to use to cooperative plan to prevent the city from growing,” Don Hilgendorf, the town of Williamstown chair, said in a statement. “The proposed city growth area demonstrates this by providing the city with the tools it needs to grow while also protecting current town and village residents from having their properties attached to the city against their will. It’s a win-win proposal.”

Mayor Rob Boelk of Mayville said he read the proposal and understands that the other side will do what they think is right for them and try to protect their citizens, but the city’s position remains that Kekoskee should be absorbed into an unincorporated Williamstown.

“Our stance is pretty clear,” he said. “We’re willing to work with them to come up with a resolution we can both live with.”

An incorporated Williamstown surrounding Mayville would make it significantly more difficult for the city to annex land for growth.

The original reason given for the merger idea was that Kekoskee, population 150, was having difficulty running itself and finding people to serve in the village’s government. A new village would have a population of about 800.

Later, residents of Williamstown spoke out about Mayville’s ability to exercise some control over land near, but outside, the city borders. Emergency services and landfill revenue have also emerged as issues.

The state rejected the original submitted proposal because it said it did not meet state law. The Department of Administration suggested that Kekoskee dissolve into the unincorporated Williamstown, as Mayville supports, or draw up clear agreements with the city for landowners to still have the option of annexation and receiving city services.

The state also had concerns about compactness, how it would affect Mayville’s growth and how turning a large rural area into a village could lock residents into its current level of services.

Follow Chris Higgins on Twitter @chris_higgins_ or contact him at 920-356-6751.