The Burnett County Board of Supervisors voted to extend a moratorium on conditional use permit applications for new campgrounds, as they continue to study the pros and cons of what has become a highly contentious issue of sorts across the region, as people looked for new ways to enjoy the great outdoors during the pandemic.

At the board’s regular monthly meeting on July 22, District 19 County Supervisor Craig Conroy outlined the reasons why the Land Use and Information Committee was seeking to extend the moratorium, as they study the issue deeper. Supv. Conroy noted the at the LUI committee has met almost every week for the last few months, as they look into some of the positives and negatives of campground expansion, and the growing popularity of the option in Burnett County. 

“As is often the case, the deeper you dig into these things, the longer they take,” Supv. Conroy said. “We’re going to need a little more time … to proceed with recommendations to the committee.”

The discussion that followed generally agreed it was a good idea, with at least a few supervisors hoping they extended it, due to a flood of recent applications, including a mention by Supv. James Pearson that the Town of Siren had received an application for a new 180-site RV campground in just in the last few days.

“It seems like everybody wants to have a campground now,” Pearson said.

Almost the entire board voted in favor of extending the moratorium for another three months, with the hope that the final recommendation of the committee will also be ready for action by the full board, in time to implement any changes or actions when the moratorium expires.

Amended Moratorium on Campgrounds will extend the moratorium previously approved by the County Board for an additional three months, to expire now in late October, 2021, at the County Board of Supervisors meeting. Officially, the moratorium extension is “… to allow for the proper consideration and implementation of the recommendations of the LUI Campground Work Group by the appropriate standing committees.”

In other supervisor business:

• A resolution to rescind two 2020 pandemic-related policies was discussed briefly before it was considered for adoption. The first resolution was in response to the World Health Organization’s 2019 emergency actions for Covid-19, while the other resolution, in essence, led to a number of policies to limit transmission in county facilities, staffing and other policies, first passed in March of 2020.  

“They approved some emergency procedures, it’s time to take the mantle of responsibility back,” Chairman Don Taylor said, noting the changes in pandemic policies of late. “If anything happens, we’ll just do it again.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the two resolutions rescinding the 2020 policies. 

• The board entertained a preliminary audit presentation from April Anderson of CliftonLarsonAllen, who gave an update on county finances and how they are reconciled with previous budgeting. The three-page report outlined some of the issues the firm is looking into with their final report.

“(These are) preliminary numbers, we’re working through final information to pull a final report together,” Anderson said as she went over the various areas they are reviewing and final recommendation to the board. 

• The board passed resolutions to move forward with annual county conservation grants, allowing them to be eligible for certain grants and matches for fish and game projects, as well as approving a resolution to approve the upcoming county forestry plan. Both resolutions passed unanimously.

- Supervisors honored retiring Burnett County Sheriff’s deputy Jonathan Moser for his 27 years of service to the county. Members of the Public Safety Committee heaped praise on Dep. Moser and his efforts, honoring him with numerous accolades and a plaque for his service. 

• The board approve several committee appointments, including appoint Emmett Byrne to the Siren Village Tax Increment District (TID) Board. They also approved appointments to the Burnett County Traffic Safety Commission, with attorney Dave Grindell as the law representative, and prosecutor Kevin Schmidt as the alternate law representative. They also approved Wayne Koball to the commission as an educator.

- There was also plenty of public comment on recent Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFO) issues, primarily from attorney Andy Marshall of Trade Lake, who quizzed the board on alleged false statements made or written on official DNR applications for a Town of Trade Lake hog CAFO application by the Cumberland LLC group. Marshall and others claim that the Cumberland group has misrepresented themselves in several ways, and they would like the county to look closer at the discrepancies as the process moves forward.

- It was also revealed the at the board has renewed Burnett County Administrator Nate Ehalt’s contract for another three years, as they praised his service and streamlining of the county budgetary process and the handling of several controversial issues. Board chair Don Taylor said he was “Beyond pleased” with Ehalt’s efforts and performance, which he said, “Takes a lot of the work off my shoulders.”