'Village of Riverside' top choice in survey

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TOWN OF BELOIT - The people have spoken, and the most popular name if the Town of Beloit were to incorporate is the Village of Riverside.

Town Administrator Ian Haas closed the community survey on Dec. 1, which asked residents to choose from four finalists. In fourth place, the Village of Turner earned 84 votes. In third place, the Village of Beloit earned 119 votes. In second place, the Village of River Oaks earned 141 votes, and the Village of Riverside earned 150 votes. This was the second survey conducted by town officials on a new village name.

Haas said Riverside and River Oaks were neck-and-neck for weeks when the survey opened up last month. The town board will have the final say on the name itself, and Haas said the board will likely discuss the potential name at the Dec. 18 town board meeting.

In terms of the incorporation process itself, the town already has collected enough signatures to submit an incorporation petition to the circuit court, one of the first steps toward becoming incorporated.

Haas said the petition is ready to go, but the town is waiting to see how ongoing talks with the City of Beloit will pan out. The town and city met on Nov. 6 and have another meeting set for Friday.

Talks between the town and city have been contentious, with Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther sending out a news release Sept. 6 explaining the council's decision to offer town residents a voluntary annexation option rather than incorporating into a village.

Town Administrator Haas later released a statement calling Luther's remarks "unfortunate, misleading and incorrect."

If the town were to incorporate, the land on the east side of Afton Road would become a village and the land to the west would stay a remnant town.

It is possible for the remnant town and new village to consolidate into a village. The first option is for the Town of Beloit to have boundary agreements with all neighboring municipalities, including the City of Beloit. However, negotiations between the town and city have not been productive to this point.

The other option for reconciliation is annexation. This can be done either through a direct annexation, or through a vote or by annexing small portions of land at a time, or by referendum. In this scenario the City of Beloit has the same rights to potentially annex the remnant town.

"If it seems like we're close to reaching an agreement we'll hold off, but if it looks stagnant we'll file the Monday following," Haas said. "It seems to be back and forth. We've gotten to a point where there's good faith on both sides."

However, Haas said issues with the 208 sewer project have made it unlikely the City and Town of Beloit will be able to reach an agreement. Haas alleges the city has brought in the 208 project as a discussion point in boundary agreement talks.

Based off a map provided by the Beloit engineering firm RH Batterman and Co., the 208 area consists of the land surrounding Afton Road between Newark Road and Burton Street. The $5.86 million project will update basic utility needs including water, sewer and road improvements for areas of Newark, Afton and Dawson roads.

On July 18, the township sent out special assessment notices to affected property owners, some of whom are city residents, without notifying the city of any public hearing assessment notice being sent.

Senior city staff previously stated the township had no authority to unilaterally send the notices of impending fees, while township officials said at the time the notices were simply a way to notify all residents along the project's anticipated route of impending changes.

A total of 30 city properties would be affected by any special funding requirement along the project's route, according to project documents.

In 2008, the city and town entered into an agreement related to the project, but after revisiting the document, city officials said the agreement is not enforceable. The city claims the agreement is vague, and also does not cover special property assessments in its language.

In other news, the Town of Beloit discussed the possibility of creating a special events coordinator position during a closed portion of Monday night's meeting.

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