Meeting Watch RTSA

On Wednesday night, the town of Richmond board voted unanimously to deny the petition of the Bauer’s to discontinue 112th Street south of the cul-de-sac. 

The Richmond Town Hall was packed to the rafters with citizens making the case both in support of and against, a petition brought by Greg and Danna Bauer to discontinue 112th Street south of the cul-de-sac on April 13.

A fraction of that number were present when the supervisors voted to deny the Bauer’s petition citing the town’s comprehensive plan, a desire to avoid going to court with the U. S. Department of Justice and their responsibility to represent all 2,600 voters in the town on April 26. 

Town chairperson Gary Knutson explained that at a public hearing on April 13, in addition to the opinions aired by the residents in attendance at that meeting, a number of letters from interested parties on both sides of the issue had been received and reviewed by the board and were made available on the town’s website.

Knutson began by noting that both the Bauers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had indicated that if the board’s decision did not favor their position, they were considering taking the town to court. 

“Attorney Sam Cari indicated to the town board that if the decision that we made was not 

acceptable to the Bauers the town would probably be facing litigation,” Knutson said. “We also received a letter from USFWS and their comments were similar. If our decision was unacceptable to them they would pass it onto their corporate attorneys who would then contact the U.S. Department of Justice to protect their interests.”

Knutson added that even though the board was being compelled by statute to make their decision Wednesday night, they hoped that both parties involved would continue to talk in an  attempt to arrive at an agreeable decision that could be presented to the board.

“If it were acceptable to the board we would certainly want to go along with it,” Knutson said.

Each of the town’s four supervisors took a turn sharing their reasons for how they intended to vote on the petition. 

Reasons provided

  • The town’s comprehensive plan, given the town does not have any parks, prioritizes resident’s easy access to open space for recreational activities. Discontinuing the road would not be in the best interests of the public.

  • Abandoning the road is inconsistent with Wisconsin Public Trust doctrine which provides the public with access to navigable waters such as Ten Mile Creek.

  • Although empathizing with the landowner's concerns, they had, or should have had, full knowledge of the easement that was legally in place.

  • The threat of litigation by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the cost to taxpayers.

  • The desire expressed by a number of residents including Greag Bauer to reach some kind of compromise, “a scaled down plan,” with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • Concerns about public safety and use of the parking lot for illegal activities were not supported by data from the Sheriff’s Office 

  • Consideration whether Gemstone’s plan to build a berm on the east side will impact access to the Waterfowl Protection Area. 

  • Clarify misconceptions about the nature of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan for the parking lot. Plans call for a mowed area to accommodate two to three cars off of the paved surface of the cul-de-sac.

  • The board’s wider responsibility is to act on behalf of all 2,600 voters in the town, not only the residents of 112th Street.

  • The board’s decision does not preclude them from considering a resolution if one can be reached by the parties, going forward.

The board voted 4-0 to deny the Bauer’s petition to discontinue 112th Street.

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