(Updated with reaction from city, town officials)
Mediation has failed between the Town of Brookfield and adjacent municipalities, sending the Town's request to incorporate as a village back to a state agency for review and decision.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge James Kieffer on Thursday lifted a six-month stay on the state's review of the town's incorporation. Another circuit judge had imposed the delay last spring after leaders of the Town, Cities of Brookfield and Waukesha and Village of Sussex sought time to try to mediate common issues surrounding border agreements, consolidation and annexations.
The four communities agreed to meet with retired Waukesha County Circuit Judge Patrick Snyder to determine if there are solutions short of the incorporation.
But that mediation was unsuccessful and the town's petition will now proceed to the state Department of Administration, Kieffer ruled.
"We're disappointed but we'll continue on with the process," Town Administrator Rick Czopp said. "We tried to negotiate in good faith but obviously it didn't work."
City Attorney Karen Flaherty said "both parties" entered mediation "with the best of intents."
But she said, "From the city’s perspective I think that our case is very good so we’ll move forward. If you’re playing the odds, the likelihood is that we will win the incorporation hearing that will take place."
The state Department of Administration was poised to hold a public hearing before mediation canceled the session.
The town paid $25,000 to file its request in March with the state Department of Administration, along with a 62-page petition that outlines the rationale for incorporating.
The main reasons for seeking to become a village include protecting the town from annexation by neighboring cities, and preserving its future autonomous government and tax base. The Corners redevelopment proposal, to be anchored by a Von Maur department store, is another example of why the town wants to tax base protection to finance public improvements.
In order to incorporate, the town needs additional land because it no longer has the minimum required 4 square miles of territory to become a village or city.
The petition proposes including about 288 acres of continguous land in the Town of Waukesha, south of Greenfield Avenue, west of Springdale Road and east of Highway 164. The lands represent about $35 million in tax base, and includes the former Walmart store and Don Jacobs car dealership, Town of Brookfield attorney James Hammes has said.
It was unknown Monday whether the Town of Waukesha would seek to renew a stay on the state's incorporation review until an appellate court resolves the Town of Waukesha's legal attempts to block it.
The Town is challenging whether the Town of Brookfield can involuntarily include Town of Waukesha lands in its bid. The Town of Waukesha also is seeking to overturn a circuit judge's ruling excluding the Town of Waukesha from intervening in the case.