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No injunction in Rib Mountain addressing lawsuit

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WAUSAU – Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Huber on Thursday denied a request by the town of Rib Mountain to halt a planned uniform addressing system being implemented across the county.

The lawsuit, filed April 5 in Marathon County Circuit Court, will continue, with possible oral arguments set for August and a final decision expected by Sept. 1. The suit challenges Marathon County’s power to make such changes in urban or non-rural roads, and asks a judge to halt the changes.

“We believe the County has exceeded its authority in trying to impose this addressing system in high-traffic urban areas such as Rib Mountain,” said Allen Opall, town chair.

Rib Mountain is home to more than 150 businesses and nearly 7,000 residents.

Marathon is one of three Wisconsin counties that lacks a uniform address system. Duplicate addresses can lead to confusion for emergency responders, leading to slower response times that could threaten public safety, supporters of the change say.

Marathon County is one of seven defendants named in the lawsuit. the towns of McMillan, Mosinee, Stettin, Texas, Weston and Wausau are also named.

County leaders in February 2016 voted to implement the plan and set aside $1.2 million to help municipalities pay for the changes. Towns in the county are required to participate in the new system, but cities and villages can opt out.

The project is currently in the street renaming phase. Final installation of new street signs is slated to begin in 2018.

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