Representatives from the land services department gave suggestions to the Large Scale Livestock Study (LSLS) committee about how they could better prepare the county for decisions regarding concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. These include which zoning districts should allow CAFOs and what ordinances may need to change if CAFOs.
The LSLS ad-hoc committee has often been referred to as the CAFO committee. They have been tasked with studying facilities with over 1,000 animal units, an issue that arose after a company submitted a partial application to the DNR for a hog CAFO in Trade Lake.
Jason Towne, Land Services Director and Zoning Administrator and Randy Gilbertson, Ag Resource planner both work for the county and gave presentations on the county, ordinances and other recommendations.
Towne suggested the committee should look at which zoning districts could be used for CAFOs and factors that should be considered like soil, depths to groundwater, slopes, proximity to wetlands, proximity to impaired waters and parcel size. Towne also recommended potential changes to the farmland preservation program.
Towne began with explaining the history of zoning in the United States and in Wisconsin. He then outlined the different agriculture zoning districts in Burnett County.
There are four types of agriculture zoning categories in Burnett County; zoning districts A, A-1, A-2 and A-4.
Zoning district A is exclusive agriculture. These districts are exclusive to preserving agricultural land for food and fiber production. There are a number of permitted uses in these districts such as a single-family dwelling.
Towne continued with zoning district A-1 – agriculture transition land. This zone is designed to be agriculture land that can be transitioned into urban expansion. Then A-2, the most popular ag zone across the county, is designated for agriculture residential. A-2 is popular for small family farms or hobby farms across the county, Towne said.
The final district for agriculture is A-4 Ag/Forestry/residential. It is the least common district for agriculture and Towne said the county may be getting rid of the zoning district in the future.
Towne then provided the committee members with a number of zoning maps, including maps of the entire county as well as individual municipalities like the Town of Daniels that only have A-2 land of almost 19,000 acres. He also gave an overview of the Town of Trade Lake, which has over 7,000 acres of land zoned A, 8,580 acres of A-2 and 230 acres of A-4.
Across the entire county over 30,000 acres of land zoned A, 1,000 acres of A-1, over 130,000 acres of A-2 and about 700 acres of A-4.
Gilbertson focused on livestock siting, ag county ordinances, animal waste and livestock facility management. He said the committee should evaluate number of animal units regulated.
“How many pigs does it take to get 1,000 pounds,” Gilbertson said. “It that the standard the county wants to keep in place.”
Corporate Counsel Dave Grindell also spoke to the importance of zoning at the meeting.
“Zoning is a tool the county and this committee should use,” Grindell said. “The authority for the county to use zoning laws is legally very solid.”