The town of Blooming Grove approved a boundary agreement Tuesday with the city of Madison that gradually dissolves the town in a little less than 23 years.

The Town Board voted 5-0 to approve the deal that took officials more than a year to negotiate. The Madison City Council also approved the deal Tuesday.

"We understand that the agreement is not perfect by any means," said Town Chairman Tom Anderson. "I think the main goal was to keep the town a town as long as we could."

The provisions of the agreement go into effect immediately, but it still must be approved by the state Department of Administration. That process is expected to be completed late this year, said the town's attorney, Richard Nordeng.

In a show of hands, about 50 of the 70 people attending a public hearing at the town fire station on Stoughton Road were in favor of the agreement.

"It's a structured way to dissolve the town. It gives us something we can count on," said Barb Hockett, 50. "I hate to see it go but it's a long time. I'll be an old lady by then."

Annexations by Madison through the years have eroded the town's land and tax base, making it difficult to plan long-term services and leaving the town's financial viability uncertain.

The town of 1,750 people has an assessed value of $142 million. The majority of the town's tax base and population -- most of which are on islands surrounded by Madison -- will remain in the town until Oct. 31, 2027. Most will be annexed by the city but some land could be annexed into the village of McFarland.

A block of businesses on land at the intersection of Interstate 90 and the Beltline will also stay in the town for the duration, including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership, two hotels and an apartment building.

Some parts of the town could be annexed before 2027 but other parts of the town will be phased into Madison over the next 15 years.

Those areas, east of Interstate 90-39 and divided by a rail line, are on the city's radar for annexation and development, town and city officials have said.

Tom Knoop, who has lived in the town for about 30 years, lives in an area that could be phased into the city by 2015. He wanted the town to reconsider the timeline.

"I'm really unhappy about how you negotiated this," said Knoop, one of 15 people who spoke at the 52 minute hearing. "Go back and get some of the long-time residents back into Blooming Grove."

Others who spoke had concerns about higher taxes during the phase-in. But Nordeng said lost taxes from properties that are annexed will be covered by a joint development project near the intersection of Milwaukee Street and Fair Oaks Avenue.

The 155-year-old town on Madison's East Side is the second Dane County town to agree to be annexed in the last two years. The town of Madison worked out a similar deal with the cities of Madison and Fitchburg in 2003.

For Town Board member Arnold Berg, the fate of the town was sealed more than 40 years ago when about 80 percent of the town was annexed into the city. Attempts at development and growth since that time have been difficult, Berg said.

"That was the defining moment," Berg said of the annexation that put about 8,000 of the town's 9,700 residents into Madison. "I think the town is well-served by (the agreement) and I'm signing on."

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