Commissions FAQ 2

Can a non-resident be appointed as a member of the Plan Commission?

Yes. In the absence of a municipal ordinance requiring residency, it is our opinion that a non-resident may be appointed as a member of the plan commission. Section 62.23(1) allows the mayor or village president to appoint elected or appointed officials, and at least three “citizen” members. Since “citizen” isn’t statutorily defined, it should be construed according to common and approved usage. Wis. Stat. sec. 990.01(1).

Although the Oxford English Dictionary does define “citizen” as “an inhabitant of a city or (often) of a town, esp. one possessing civic rights and privileges,” it also contains a definition which uses “citizen” to distinguish between civilians and public officers. It is our opinion that this definition is more consistent with the statute’s intent. Thus we believe that “citizen” is not the same as resident, and the only specific requirement for citizen members is that they be persons of “recognized experience and qualifications.” Several statutes do specifically state that appointees, or a certain number of appointees, must be “residents” and where that term is used, the appointee must actually reside within the city or village.