Can incorporation save Bloomfield's low-key lifestyle?
As Bloomfield ponders incorporation, residents unsure if it will be the best way to preserve their laid-back lifestyle.
More Walworth County news
For breaking Walworth County news and hourly updates, visit the WalworthCountyToday.com home page throughout the day.
Bloomfield Township resident Frank Chesen is in favor of incorporating a portion of the town as a way for residents to gain more local control over land-use rules. Dan Plutchak/staff.
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Frank Chesen came to Bloomfield Township in 1948.
“When I moved in, they were raising chickens and pigs in the area,” said Chesen, who has lived in his current house along South Lake Shore Drive since 1974. “Things have sure changed over the years.”
Chesen, 89, the father of recently retired Lake Geneva Mayor William P. Chesen, has been actively involved in Bloomfield Township, serving, over time, as a police officer, health officer and member of the local school board.
These days, Chesen spends his days selling handcrafted picnic tables from his home, and instead of pigs and chickens, residents are raising an idea to become an incorporated village.
A petition to incorporate an 18.5-mile area of Bloomfield Township northeast of County Highway H and including Pell Lake, was the subject of a public hearing last month by the state’s Department of Administration. The petition will be the subject of a hearing in mid-May, and, if approved by an incorporation review board, may be put to a public vote later this year.
For Walworth County townships, land-use matters such as zoning are decided by county officials, not town officials, and Chesen, like many residents, wants to see that changed. He’s tired of “fee after fee” from the county, and permits that regulate even fence lines along his property.
“We’ve got barns and sheds bigger than homes out here,” he said. “We want home rules.”
Becky Gallagher, one of the co-petitioners for incorporation, wants to hang on to the atmosphere that reminds her husband of Wonder Lake, Ill., where he grew up.
“We’re not in a cookie-cutter subdivision,” she said of her neighborhood along Walworth Road. “There’s a hometown, rural feeling.”
There’s a sprinkling of churches, small grocery markets, restaurants and bars in the township. But the township still has a rural feel, with miles of cornfields and the Bloomfield State Wildlife Area, a large wetland habitat that attracts flocks of migratory birds. There also are plenty of lakes ringed with cottages.
Linda Heathscott, a bus aide for Dousman Transport Co. and an 11-year resident, agreed.
“There are so many pros and cons to incorporation,” Heathscott said.
On a sunny morning earlier this month, Heathscott was selling sleeping bags, a portable clothes closet, bakeware and other items at a rummage sale in her Ivy Lane front yard.
She said she enjoys the neighborhood, where her grandchildren ride bikes and family members fish in surrounding lakes.
“(Incorporation) will probably bring improvements, but will I love (what it does to) us when it happens?” she asked. “I don’t know.”
Read the full story in the e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.