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Statutory Interpretation – Cooperative Plan

WI Court of Appeals – District IV

Case Name: City of Mayville v. State of Wisconsin Department of Administration, et al.,

Case No.: 2019AP882

Officials: KLOPPENBURG, J.

Focus: Statutory Interpretation – Cooperative Plan

This case concerns a cooperative plan (the Plan) prepared pursuant to WIS. STAT. § 66.0307 (2017-18) by the Village of Kekoskee and the Town of Williamstown and approved by the Department of Administration (the Department). The Village of Kekoskee is surrounded wholly by the Town of Williamstown’s territory. The Plan provides in pertinent part for: (1) the “attachment” by the Village of Kekoskee of all territory located in the Town of Williamstown by eliminating the boundary between the Village of Kekoskee and the Town of Williamstown, resulting in the elimination of the Town of Williamstown; (2) the renaming of the newly expanded Village of Kekoskee as the “Village of Williamstown”; and (3) the creation of a “Village of Williamstown Detachment Area” in portions of what would be the newly expanded Village territory which are “adjacent and proximate” to the City of Mayville.

The City of Mayville, which is also surrounded wholly by the Town of Williamstown’s territory, and which under the Plan would instead be wholly surrounded by Village territory, sought judicial review of the Department’s approval of the Plan. The circuit court determined that Mayville has standing to seek judicial review of the Department’s approval of the Plan. The court also determined that the Department erroneously approved the Plan because WIS. STAT. § 66.0307 “does not allow a Village to absorb an entire Township [as stated in the Plan].” Therefore, the circuit court reversed the Department’s decision approving the Plan and remanded the case to the Department.

The Village and the Department appeal the circuit court’s determinations regarding both Mayville’s standing and Mayville’s challenge to the Department’s approval of the Plan. We conclude that Mayville has standing under the applicable judicial review statutes, WIS. STAT. §§ 227.52 and 227.53, because it is aggrieved by the Department’s decision approving the Plan in that Mayville’s statutory right to be made a party to the Plan was violated. We also conclude that the Department made an error of law in approving the Plan because the Plan does not comply with WIS. STAT. § 66.0307(2). Specifically: (1) WISCONSIN STAT. § 66.0307(2) requires that a municipality whose boundary is changed or maintained by a cooperative plan under that section must be a party to the cooperative plan; (2) “change” to a “boundary” or “boundary line” as used in WIS. STAT. § 66.0307 means the physical alteration of, or difference in a geographic line or demarcation of, the limits of an area; (3) WISCONSIN STAT. § 66.0307(2) also states that a cooperative plan shall provide one or more of four delineated means by which a boundary line may be changed or maintained, and paragraphs 66.0307(2)(b) and (c) specify two of those means, consisting of optional boundary line changes that may occur subject to conditions set forth in the cooperative plan; (4) the Plan through creation of the “Village of Williamstown Detachment Area” provides for optional changes to Mayville’s boundary lines subject to the occurrence of conditions set forth in the Plan, but the Plan does not include Mayville as a party.

Accordingly, for reasons separate from those stated by the circuit court, we affirm the circuit court’s order reversing the Department’s decision and remand to the circuit court to remand to the Department for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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Derek A Hawkins is trademark corporate counsel for Harley-Davidson. Hawkins oversees the prosecution and maintenance of the Harley-Davidson’s international trademark portfolio in emerging markets.

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