Agreement could open the door to municipal water service extension

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

While a number of moving parts still need to come into play, a proposal to swap more than 115 acres of land between the villages of Rochester and Waterford is currently on the table.

The land in question is adjacent to the northeast corner of the intersection of highways 36 and 20. If approved, the land would be detached from Rochester and go to Waterford in a transaction.

As currently proposed, the exchange could facilitate the extension of municipal water service into small areas of Rochester.

Members of the Rochester Village Board discussed the proposal at a meeting Aug. 12. Throughout the discussion, officials stressed the talks were preliminary.

“There’s so many steps that have to occur,” Village Administrator-Treasurer Betty Novy said during the discussion. “There’s a lot of things that have to fall into place.”

Trustee Gary Beck Sr., who said he would recuse himself from any motions related to the transaction, has been involved in discussions about the land swap, as has his son, Gary Beck Jr.

The talks initially began with a 20-acre parcel adjacent to the Waterford Mercury site on Highway 36, which is part of a tax-incremental district, or TID. Acquiring the 20-acre site would give Waterford the ability to extend the TID boundaries and allow for access to Highway 20.

“In order to adjust boundaries in a way that provides for orderly extension of roads and infrastructure to serve adjacent properties, also in Rochester, that would be landlocked behind the development, the proposed boundary adjustment between Rochester and Waterford was expanded,” Novy wrote in a memo outlining the rationale behind the additional land.

According to documents Novy provided in the board packet, the land encompasses all or portions of seven individual parcels currently within Rochester.

Collectively, the parcels encompass 115.61 acres of land and have a valuation of $660.46 — a valuation, Novy said, that reflects the agriculture-zoned designation for the properties at present.

There are other items that could be negotiated between the two municipalities if the plans do fall into place.

“The items Waterford is open to negotiating in exchange for the detachment/attachment would be the extension of municipal water to Rochester to serve, at minimum, the triangle area and extension of Evergreen Drive to 6th Street,” Novy wrote in the memo.

Other parties are involved in the discussions beyond the two municipalities.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reportedly would be an important lynchpin in the concept. Waterford is in the midst of seeking approval from the state agency to access Highway 20 for a local road across from Sharon Lane, which provides access to the Lynch Truck Center.

Based on the information presented, Trustee Chris Bennett said he was amenable to continuing discussions, though he offered some caveats.

“I think conceptually this is a good idea,” Bennett said. “But I don’t want this leading into other issues. I’d like a lot of oversight from our attorney. I care about what Rochester gets out of this.”