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Evers signs bill nixing two-step annexations

Posted at 3 p.m. on March 18, 2022

The Brillion News

MADISON - Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Friday, March 18, signed Senate Bill 835 into law. It has several provisions, but one of the most significant is preventing repetition of the so-called "Harrison Two Step" - where a portion of a town incorporates as a village, and then turns around and annexes the remainder of the town.

According to the new law:

For a five-year period after incorporation ... a newly incorporated city or village may not add or contract to add any remaining town territory of the town from which the newly incorporated city or village was created by use of consolidation, a boundary agreement, or annexation ...

Two exceptions are allowed: The additional lands may be annexed by unanimous approval under State Statute 66.0217 (2) or consolidate under State Statute 66.0230.

The moniker "Harrison Two Step" comes from the incorporation of a portion of the Town of Harrison on northwest Calumet County.

  • First, the urban portion of the town was incorporated as the Village of Harrison

  • Second, the rural portions of the town remained as the Town of Harrison.

  • Third, the new Village of Harrison annexed the "remnant" town into the village.

The practice was considered, by critics, to be a deception. If the entire Town of Harrison had originally applied for incorporation, it would likely have been rejected by the state Department of Administration's Incorporation Review Board for having inadequate population density required of new villages.

The change in state law was endorsed by both the Wisconsin Towns Association and the League of Wisconsin municipalities.

On Tuesday, March 22, the Incorporation Review Board meets - in an on-line gathering - to act on the revised petition by the Town of Wrightstown to incorporate the urbanized Greenleaf areas as a new village.

The Village of Wrightstown opposed the incorporation of Greenleaf, in part because it felt the township would use a two-step option to incorporate Greenleaf and then annex the rest of town township, blocking the growth of the Village of Wrightstown into rural areas of the township.

The Incorporation Review Board will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 22. Tp view the meeting on line, go to and click on the link to join the meeting.


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