Town of Brookfield sues owners of Jack Safro Toyota dealership over annexation

The town of Brookfield is suing the Safro Toyota dealership after it was annexed by the city of Brookfield.

The town of Brookfield is suing the Safro Toyota dealership after it was annexed by the city of Brookfield.

April 28, 2014

A lawyer for the town of Brookfield, calling the town "irreparably harmed" by Jack Safro Toyota requesting annexation into the city of Brookfield, filed a lawsuit April 18 against the owners of the dealership. The city of Brookfield Common Council approved the annexation April 15.

The lawsuit references an agreement made by Jeanne Safro, president of Jack Safro's Automotive Group, in August, 2007, not to seek annexation for 15 years on eight parcels, including those that make up the Toyota dealership at Capitol Drive and Barker Road.

According to that agreement, in exchange, the town of Brookfield granted an easement to the state Department of Natural Resources to protect an endangered species, which allowed Safro to develop land on Jennifer Drive.

Two of the parcels annexed by the city April 15 were under an exception in the agreement. If Safro wanted to sell them and the sale hinged on annexation, the company could ask the town board to release those parcels. The town would then be entitled to property taxes for the balance of the 15 years of the agreement in an amount equal to what it currently collects.

The city's ordinance annexing the dealership does include a provision requiring the owners to pay the town those property taxes. However, the town board did not release the parcels from its non-annexation agreement.

According to the suit, the town is seeking remedies "in an amount to be determined" and asking for an injunction against more annexation petitions from Safro.

Attorneys on the case declined to comment. Town Administrator Rick Czopp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

City of Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto said he did not think the suit would affect the annexation already approved by the city.

"I really think this one is a done deal," Ponto said. "Also, I'm personally critical of trying to get any resident, whether it's an individual or a business, to sign a non-annexation agreement when they ask for something from the town government. I think that's really a questionable practice."

Jeanne Safro did not return a request for comment.

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