Can a nonresident be appointed as a member of the Plan Commission?
Yes. In the absence of a municipal ordinance requiring residency, it is the League’s opinion that a nonresident may be appointed as a member of the plan commission. Wisconsin Stat. § 62.23(1) allows the mayor or village president to appoint elected or appointed officials, and “at least three citizen members who are not municipal officials.” Since “citizen” isn’t statutorily defined, it should be construed according to common and approved usage. Wis. Stat. § 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. In the League’s opinion, this definition is more consistent with the statutory language. 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. (rev. 12/21)