Challengers Line Up to Face Incumbent Town Board Supervisors

MTT News Desk's picture
Kevin Murphy
Plans for another ATC transmission line in the Town of Middleton will be part of a central issue in the April election. Pictured here, an ATC line under construction last year in the City of Middleton/Times-Tribune photo by Matt Geiger

All three incumbents on the Middleton Town Board will face challengers on the April ballot.

Greg DiMiceli, a former plan commission member, will oppose incumbent Milo Breunig for town chair. Cynthia Richson, a current plan commission member, will oppose incumbent Tim Roehl for Seat 1. Troy Alton will oppose incumbent Bill Kolar for Seat 2.

Richson is an attorney who was worked for the Wisconsin Investment Board, in the insurance industry, and has served on the Plan Commission for more than two years. She said she was inspired to run after the town board renewed a conditional-use permit for the Madison Central Montessori School in 2011.

“It was a very controversial decision - more than 200 people signed petitions opposing it,” said Richson.

The school’s location along Airport Road at Ellington Way added more traffic to the residential area and it had drainage issues that distressed Richson. However, it was the board’s “lack of regard” for the residents’ concerns that made her run, she said.

“There are more suitable places in the town for the school and that’s when I started thinking that there are decisions being made that impact the quality of life in the town I want to continue to live in,” she said.

Richson said she chose to oppose Roehl, a real estate agent, because “he’s never seen a development he didn’t like,” whereas she favors “smart growth.”

Because Roehl rents instead of owns a residence, he “lacks skin in the game,” said Richson.

Roehl counters that he has owned property in the town but currently has a lease agreement.  He called it “a shame” that Richson would suggest that anyone who rents not owns is a “lesser member of the town.”

Roehl defended his support of the MCMS saying it renewed a conditional-use permit a previous board had approved. Also, the town faced some costly lawsuits from the school and property owner if the board denied the school its permits, he said.

Roehl is seeking re-election to this third term on the board after serving four years on the plan commission and chairing the town’s comprehensive plan commission. If Richson is elected along with DiMiceli, no board member would be living south of US 14, except Bill Kolar he said.

“The Airport Road corridor would be well represented but if they get what they’re after [Middleton] will have the same kind of cluster representation the board experienced back in the late 70s and early 80s. People that have talked to me are alarmed by this,” Roehl said.

Roehl unsuccessfully sought to curb spending on engineering services by ending the long-term contract with Vierbicher Associates and hiring a staff engineer. Roehl notes that the town has spent $500,000 on un-reimbursed “miscellaneous” engineering services since 2007.

How much the town should spend to influence construction of a power line to be propped this year was also on board candidates’ minds.

Town chairman Milo Breunig said the “jury was still out” on the amount, but added that he realizes the town has limited influence before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) on the line American Transmission Co. (ATC) is calling the Badger-Coulee project.

“We don’t want this line here, but unless the [Cardinal] substation goes away, which it won’t, we’ll be impacted by any future power line; it’s impossible to get away from that,” he said. “We may be able to influence the results but it’s likely it will be like the Rockdale line [which is currently under construction] - we’ll have small victories.”

The town’s best bet is to get ATC and the PSC to view the impact on the town from the  four proposed power lines that would terminate at the Cardinal substation, said Breunig, which is unique to the state.

Kolar doubts the town can prevent ATC from building the 345-kilovolt line along its preferred route that follows Vosen, Koch and Bronner roads, then continues south across Airiport Road to the Cardinal substation.

“I’m a fiscal conservative with a pragmatic perspective and it doesn’t make sense to spend significant town resources to fight ATC,” he said. “The PSC makes the decisions and they follow statutes which mandate they choose existing corridors, which is ATC’s preferred route.”

“[ATC’s] alternative route has the line coming into the town from the west…but I can’t see how the PSC would choose that over the preferred route because it would be more expensive to build and require them to buy more land,” Kolar added.

Kolar’s opponent, Troy Alton, an oral surgeon, said many of the town board’s strategy discussions regarding ATC power lines have occurred in closed session, preventing citizens like him from knowing about the issue.

Alton said he understands how construction of high voltage power line will change the landscape of the town and he wants to the town to exercise whatever options are available to minimize the  impact.

Alton’s main reason for running is to reverse prohibitions against dogs in the Pope Farm and Goth conservancies.

Owner of a cockapoo named “Tanner,” Alton says there are a lot of dog owners in the town that want to access the conservancies with their leashed dogs.

“Maybe there’s a compromise there that would benefit everyone,” he said.

Alton has been a town resident since 1997. He is married to Marmar Miar, a dentist, and they live on Summerfield Drive with their 14-year-old daughter.

Alton said his candidacy occurred because Eric Beissman decided not to oppose Kolar. Beissman filed a declaration of candidacy in December but subsequently decided that he couldn’t spare enough time from his business to run and serve this year, his wife, Nicole said.

DiMiceli didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on his candidacy.

There will be no February primary for the board elections. The general election is set for April 2.



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