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RACINE COUNTY — On April 2, voters in the towns of Raymond and Burlington will have a chance to voice their opinions on whether the towns should become villages.

Both towns’ ballots will have a referendum on incorporation. Raymond’s ballot measure is binding; the Town of Burlington’s is advisory.

Incorporation would protect the towns’ land from annexation from neighboring cities and villages, give more control over planning and zoning and let officials apply for more federal, state and local grants. The referendums come as several other towns in Racine and Kenosha counties have recently incorporated: Yorkville, Somers, Salem Lakes and Bristol.

The Town of Burlington’s referendum is an advisory poll to gauge if residents think town officials should explore incorporation further. The question on the ballot reads as follows: “Should the Town of Burlington continue to explore the idea of becoming a village?”

Raymond’s referendum, meanwhile, is binding. The question will read as follows: “Shall the Town of Raymond be incorporated as a Village?”

If it passes, the town will become a village under the special Foxconn-related state legislation that allows towns adjacent to Mount Pleasant to incorporate even if they do not meet the state’s population density requirements.

Raymond does not meet those requirements, but neither did Yorkville when it incorporated last year. Yorkville incorporated to avoid potential annexations by neighboring Mount Pleasant and gain more control of development, especially along the Interstate corridor.

Parts of the Town of Burlington, in the Browns Lake and Bohners Lake areas, would meet the population density requirements, but other parts of the town would not. Advocates of incorporation in the Town of Burlington contend that village status would prevent further annexations from the neighboring City of Burlington.

Getting out the message

In Raymond, more than 150 people attended a late January informational meeting about the incorporation vote. Residents seem to be on board with the incorporation vote, Town Supervisor Tim Geszvain said.

“From what I’ve heard, the public opinion is pretty favorable on it,” Geszvain said. “I would expect it to pass.”

Apart from some minor costs associated with incorporation such as possibly updating codes or lettering, Geszvain said he was not aware of any public concerns.

“I think it’s a good thing myself, but it’s nothing that I want to push down anyone’s throat,” he said. “I hope everybody gets informed and votes how they feel they should.”

On Feb. 28, a small gathering of Town of Burlington residents attended an informational session to learn the pros and cons of incorporation.

The Dover Town Board is also exploring incorporation, but nothing will be on the ballot yet. The Kansasville area of the town — the area near the intersection of highways 75 and 11 and the residential areas around Eagle Lake — could meet population density requirements, but the rest of the town would not.

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Jonathon Sadowski covers the villages of Union Grove and Yorkville, the Town of Dover, arts, entertainment and odds and ends for The Journal Times.

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