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The Town of Pittsfield could face a future of annexation

Town of Pittsfield
Posted at 12:37 AM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 11:48:52-04

PITTSFIELD (NBC 26) — The Town of Pittsfield sits south of the Village of Pulaski and west of the Village of Howard.

While the entire area continues to grow, Keith Deneys, the Town of Pittsfield Chairman, says the town's future is now in question because the Village of Howard wants to annex the town.

"There is a possibility that within five years, we see a lot of the township disappearing and becoming parts of the Village of Howard," Deneys said.

Currently, the town has about 2,500 residents, and Deneys said it could shrink to one-third of its size. Pittsfield residents would become Howard residents, meaning they would pay the village's tax rate, which Deneys said is "substantially higher."

Now, the recent water deal that the Village of Pulaski took from Green Bay Water is playing a huge role in future development for Pittsfield. That's because Pittsfield plans to hook up to Pulaski's water pipelines down the road.

"Our two communities right now are working on a memorandum of understanding where they would hook on to the water source and get the water supply," Keith Chambers, Village of Pulaski President, explains. "They would be responsible for all their own distribution. They would buy the water from Pulaski."

Last week, the City of Green Bay Common Council members voted on a deal for Green Bay Water to supply Pulaski with water through pipelines that connect Green Bay to Hobart. Pulaski has been looking to change their water after theirs was discolored and had high amounts of chemicals.

Chambers said this was the most cost-effective option, and he believes it will benefit Pittsfield too.

The other deal Pulaski could have taken was one with the Central Brown County Water Authority, which is how Howard gets its water.

Since that deal didn't go through, it gives Pittsfield a little more distance from Howard because people who live in Pittsfield currently rely on their own wells and say Howard is trying to place pipelines in the town for future annex plans.

"Howard requested the town's permission to place a pipeline in the ground along the border and then actually half a mile into the township to serve one single residential property, which the village itself purchased," Deneys said.

Deneys said Howard is trying to block Pittsfield's ability to provide their own water, which would force them to be annexed.

"Our citizens are very concerned about the prospect of Howard annexing major portions of the town," Deneys said.

However, Geoffrey Farr, the Village of Howard Director of Public Works, says that's not true.

"No, we're not doing anything to block them," Farr said. "We're just doing and dealing with routine ordinary growth and future requests and planning appropriately."

He added that he thinks the Central Brown County Water Authority deal Howard presented to Pittsfield was actually a better deal financially for Pulaski and Pittsfield long term.

He also says people in Pittsfield request to be annexed by Howard.

"They want to develop or they want some additional services. Water, sewer or just standard municipal services like leaf services...trash that's included in their taxes and isn't added on as an extra item," Farr said.

He said the reason for annexing is to accommodate Howard's growth, and he said the annexing could take up to 30 years.

There's multiple ways a village can annex a town in the state of Wisconsin. One way is for residents and property owners to voluntarily petition to be annexed into a village.

The other way is involuntarily, but according to the state's annexation statutes, this typically occurs "less than 10%" of the time.

Pittsfield and Howard have tried to work on a border agreement in the past, and negotiating where those annexation boundaries could be, but Deneys said Pittsfield could not accept the agreement. He said the town is going to keep fighting the annex.

Moving forward, he said Pittsfield residents are invited to come out to a town hall meeting on April 18 to discuss their thoughts on the annexation.