PARIS — Three residents began an effort Friday to recall all three members of the Paris Town Board.
Joseph Kolnik is pursuing the recall drive along with Robert Fliess and Paul Terry. Kolnik is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the town challenging an Interstate 94 corridor boundary agreement with the village of Somers
With their statement of intent filed Friday, they may now begin circulating recall petitions targeting Paris Chairman Virgil Gentz and Supervisors Ronald Kammerzelt and Kenneth Monson. If they are successful and a recall election ensues, Kolnik plans to challenge Gentz, Fliess would oppose Monson and Terry would take on Kammerzelt.
All three of the would-be challengers are upset about the Town Board’s approval of an intergovernmental agreement that would result in some 2,500 acres along the west side of I-94 transferring from Paris to Somers, with revenue generated by new development to be shared 50-50 between the two municipalities.
“I’ve lived in Paris my whole life,” Fliess said, “and that’s why I bought my farm — because of the tax base — and now my town is throwing me out. It just doesn’t seem fair.”
Fliess’ property sits across Highway 142 from land that the city of Kenosha annexed recently for the development of a Uline warehouse. Skeptical that Somers will have the authority to bring water and sewer service west of I-94, Fliess believes the Paris-Somers agreement would preclude him from realizing the development value of his land by annexing into Kenosha in the future.
“I’m going to have a fire hydrant kitty corner across the street from me with the Uline development that I can’t touch, because of this agreement,” Fliess said.
The agreement, adopted by the Paris and Somers boards on April 7, has not yet taken effect, due to a stay that Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder granted in response to a lawsuit filed by the city of Kenosha, along with Kolnik and his wife, Vicky, and Paris residents Donis and Mandy Taylor. A motion hearing in that case is set for June 28.
Meantime, Joseph Kolnik and Donis Taylor have also filed a petition for a referendum to dissolve the agreement. Their attorney, J. Michael McTernan, said Friday they have yet to receive a response from town officials.
As for the recall drive, Friday’s action opened a 60-day window in which petition signatures may be gathered from town residents. The total needed, 202, is based on 25 percent of the number of Paris residents who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election.
Kammerzelt said of the recall effort, “It’s more of the same group. It’s basically their way of complaining, I guess, and they have a right to do so.”
While he said he doesn’t believe it is a sure thing that the recall will move forward, Kammerzelt said he is confident he would defeat Terry, who lost to Kammerzelt in the 2011 Town Board election.
Gentz and Monson could not be reached for comment Friday.
Kammerzelt remains adamant the intergovernmental agreement is a good deal for the town as a whole.
“Even those residents in the I-94 corridor, if they take the time to understand it, it’s a good deal for them — a better deal, certainly, than three times the taxes that they would have to pay if they were in the city of Kenosha, which would eventually take place,” Kammerzelt said. “So I don’t think it’s a bad deal for anyone. I think everyone wins.”
But while Kammerzelt maintains the agreement is solid and great efforts were made to inform residents at office hours held at the Town Hall early last month, McTernan said his clients have received very few answers.
McTernan likened the agreement to the building of a wall that attempts to prevent property owners from exercising their right to annex into the city.
“That’s what this is about — they’re taking away somebody’s property rights,” McTernan said. “My clients are fed up, and they feel there needs to be a change at the Town Board level — a complete change.”