Town of Middleton

Town of Middleton residents voted overwhelming in favor to keep shared zoning responsibilities with Dane County on Tuesday night. Four other Dane County towns were taking up the topic Tuesday.


The town of Middleton voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to stay in Dane County zoning authority, while the town of Westport chose to leave.

Town of Middleton residents voted 352-29 against withdrawing from shared zoning responsibilities with the county government.

Residents of the town of Westport voted 34-0 in favor of opting out of county oversight.

Dane County has historically used its zoning authority to limit suburban sprawl and preserve the county’s rural areas.

The towns of Berry, Black Earth and Springfield were also set to vote on whether to withdraw from county zoning at their annual meetings on Tuesday. Results of those votes were not available late Tuesday.

The town of Bristol has a vote scheduled on Wednesday, the town of Blue Mounds on April 24 and the town of Sun Prairie on April 25.

Cynthia Richson, one of two write-in candidates opposed to withdrawal who defeated town of Middleton board incumbents in the April 4 spring election, said she was overjoyed at the residents’ decision.

“I have to applaud the citizens of the town of Middleton. They took this seriously,” said Richson, who was sworn-in as Town Board chair Tuesday.

Supporters of withdrawal argue it would give the town more control on development and would be less burdensome for residents, but opponents argue the move is unnecessary and could be most costly to town residents.

Of the county’s 33 towns, eight moved forward with the withdrawal process this year.

An analysis by the county’s Planning and Development Department released last week said the eight towns considering withdrawing could see an increase in property tax for residents to cover the cost of conducting their own zoning.

The Dane County Towns Association has argued fees to residents to fund the function would stay the same if they leave county oversight.

The option to withdraw became possible after a law was passed last year allowing Dane County towns to opt out during a one-year window every three years, 2017 being the first time. The next time will be in 2020.

The state Assembly passed a bill earlier this month modifying the law to make it easier for towns to withdraw.

The bill drew heavy criticism initially as it would have removed the requirement that residents vote on withdrawal, but that change was taken out of the bill.


Logan Wroge has been a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal since 2015.