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Local farmers fail to sway County Board against ordinance
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Several local farmers packed into the Lafayette County Board room on Tuesday, May 17 to try and convince the board members to vote down the proposed Licensing Livestock Ordinance on its second and final reading.
The Land and Conservation Committee (LCC) created the ordinance and presented the first reading at the previous county board meeting on April 19. The license is for siting of any new or expanding livestock facilities that will have 750 or more animal units, restricting them from building within 100 feet from the property line if fewer than 1,000 animal units and/or 200 feet from the property line if more than 1,000 animal units. It also restricts the waste storage structure from being located 350 feet from property line or nearest point of a public road. The application fee is $750 payable to Lafayette County. If any of the provisions in the ordinance are violated, the person would have to pay $1,000. The ordinance was created to establish standards and authority to protect the health and safety of the people of Lafayette County.
LCC chairman Leon Wolfe gave an overview of the ordinance. He commented, “Siting means location. So this is all about where new facilities will be location if new facilities are proposed and also about expansion of existing facilities. It does not apply to something out there right now.”
He commented how it was a very detailed ordinance and made the motion to approve the ordinance to open it up for discussion. David Hammer seconded it.
Three people were signed up to speak. Joe Riechers, who lives in Darlington but farms in Seymour Township spoke first. He felt this ordinance was a rushed solution to an ill-defined problem. He wasn’t sure how the ordinance was supposed to improve conservation.
“I think there was a lack of input from those people, those farmers who will be effected by this. From the people that are on that committee, I don’t know if there is a lot of livestock farmers or have knowledge about livestock farming,” Riechers stated.
He felt it was an impediment to the county as Lafayette County is very agriculture based.  He added that the county wouldn’t have a “snowballs chance on a hot day” of bringing enough tourism to cover the amount of money farmers bring to the county. Riechers was concerned with the possibility the ordinance changing and being implied to the rest of the farmers.
“I feel this is the beginning of something bigger and I would like you to vote this down and get some input from the people that will be effected by it.”
Gretchen Kamps farms in Kendall Township and encouraged the board to vote no. She felt everything happened very quickly. She was also uncertain on how the ordinance would help conservation. In the ordinance, ch. ATCP 51of the Wisconsin Administrative Code requires a 25-page application complete with maps and nutrient management plans and it can be a very large undertaking for many farms. The application then would go to a public hearing.
“I’m not sure who will be on that hearing committee. I guess I would like to know. But I am concerned that with the cutting and pasting of this document it wasn’t fully understood by everyone. I think we need to start over,” Kamps suggested.
Kamps suggested getting information from Pioneer Farms, a farm apart of the UW-Platteville system, which does studies on ground and surface water and has data since 2001 of crop rotations, manure applications, surface water run-off, and ground water monitoring. She also suggested bringing in Kory Stalsberg, Lafayette and Grant County Ag Agent and asking him how this affects farmers.
“I think this is too quick and I don’t think there is enough information.”
Steve Carpenter, who was on the Lafayette County Board ten years ago and also operates Redrock View Farms outside of Darlington didn’t tell the board how to vote. He wanted them to know if they knew what they were voting for.
“If rumor is what I’ve heard it is, it’s that you want to stop big dairies and some of these big outside investments from coming into the county. I agree with you. We don’t need a bunch of them but a few won’t hurt anything. But this ordinance isn’t going to do that. My concern is the county is going to have a lot more things to do,” Carpenter said.
He told the board that only nine counties in Wisconsin that have a livestock siting ordinance. He said if this ordinance was such a good thing then he didn’t know why more weren’t doing it. Carpenter said that when he was on the board they looked at a similar ordinance but had the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) come down and explained more information.
“This is a big issue to us as tax payers and citizens; that is why we are here today because this does influence our livelihood and our success not just for us, but also for our future generations. Do not hurt the potential growth of this county. Let’s sit down with some of the people here tonight and make sure we are doing the right thing.”
Corporation Counsel Nathan Russell explained that this ordinance is basically ch. ATCP 51, but with a few word changes to fit the needs of Lafayette County. Ch. ATCP 51 is reviewed by the DATCP every 4 years and if there were any changes to that ordinance it would also be reflected on this ordinance.
Land Conservation Manager Terry Loeffelholz agreed that getting someone from DATCP to explain things wouldn’t be a bad idea. Loeffelholz didn’t know how many applications his office would get so he didn’t know if the workload would be too much.
Board member Bob Boyle asked Wolfe if they did have enough information. Wolfe commented it was just a siting ordinance but with all the public in attendance maybe the LCC should look into more and maybe not just siting.
“There has been a lot of concern about the environmental issues in this county. This does not address any of that; I’d have to agree immediately to that. By itself it is only about location. We are not trying to keep the big farmers out. This doesn’t address that at all,” Wolfe said.
Board member Wayne Wilson called for the question. A roll call vote was taken and the ordinance passed 15-1 with Jack Wiegel voting no.
The Lafayette County board also approved:
-resolution 1-16 for the Lafayette County Address and Road Name Ordinance, which helps assist in the accuracy and efficiency of rural addressing and improves communication between towns, Emergency Service Agencies and county departments.
-resolution 8-16 transferring deficit/surplus accounts to or from the General Fund.
-resolution 9-16 Authorization of Non-Lapsing Funds.
-resolution 10-16 authorizing the Return of 2015 Transfer to Memorial Hospital from the General Fund in the amount of $236,811.
-land use changes in Lamont and Wiota Townships.
-resolution 13-16 Establishing Compensation of the Vacated Support Services Manager Position at Human Services with amendments for the pay range to be between $23.50 to $25.00 per hour based on 2080 hours.
-resolution 14-16 adjusting the wage for the Director/Health Officer position at the Health Department for $29.27 to $31.27.
-resolution 15-16 adjusting the wage for the Assistant Director/ Home Health Administrator position with the wage set at $27.83.