Oneida County zoning director Karl Jennrich told the Oneida Land and Water Conservation Committee this month the planning and development committee decided not to go through with the manure storage ordinance he previously discussed with the committee.
Jennrich stated he sent a letter to the unzoned towns asking whether they wanted the ordinance to apply within unzoned towns. The ordinance was meant to be county-wide, rather than like a zoning ordinance. The ordinance, he said, would be more like a public health ordinance, which would be all-encompassing in the county, and would regulate the storage and dry-stacking of manure.
The committee, he said, felt that Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) already regulated manure enough, so the committee made a motion not to pursue it.
"That does not mean this committee - land and water - cannot look at manure storage, and that's up to this committee because both of you (committees) are kind of in the same business when it comes to manure and agriculture," Jennrich said. In many counties, he added, a manure storage ordinance would come out of a land and water committee.
He said the county is going forward with revisions to 9.20, which is the county's use districts. This basically defines where commercial agriculture can and cannot be placed within the county, Jennrich said. He said the committee was also against a confined animal feed operation (CAFO) ordinance due to the difficulty for the county to regulate an ordinance such as that. An ordinance, he said, would simply allow the county to enforce, rather than allowing the state to be the enforcer of manure storage, for instance. The manure ordinance would regulate any manure stack over 75 cubic feet. Something such as a CAFO, Jennrich said, could not be disallowed in the county in entirety. If a county allows agriculture, he felt, it would have to allow a CAFO. A county can, however, limit where those operations may be placed.
'Carrying water with a leaky bucket'
The discussion turned to how, moving forward, the committee would make recommendations to the full county board. At the last meeting, there was a discussion regarding moving the wetland setbacks from the current 15 feet to 5 feet. There seemed to be a consensus at that meeting the committee needed more information in order to make an informed decision. There was no evidence presented to either show that change would not negatively affect wetlands, nor was there evidence presented that there would be no effect. At that time, the committee, as a whole, felt they should ask the county board to delay moving on the change until more research could be done.
However, at the county board meeting, there was a split in how committee members voted. Chairman Bob Mott felt it put the committee's decision in a questionable light and wanted to know how, in the future, the board would show support for or against an agenda item that would go from their committee to the full board.
"Somewhere it was made clear the committee had concerns regarding the information provided," committee member Robb Jensen said. "It was said the research was there, and our discussion was we didn't really see that, and we felt, as a committee, that we didn't really have adequate information at the time."
"Did someone voice that?" Mott asked.
"I did," committee member Alan VanRaalte said. "I said that I spoke, I thought, anyway, on behalf of the committee. I made two points, that we didn't have enough information and it should be delayed until we had that information."
"That didn't fly," Jensen said.
"Well, let's put it this way," VanRaalte said. "I don't like carrying water with a leaky bucket."
"The concern I have is if you think you're going to go there with committee support, and you don't have committee support, it makes you look foolish," Mott said. He said there may be situations in which more information is presented at the full county board that was not available to the committee, but if the committee voices a concern, there should be the same type of discussion like the discussion within the committee. He felt it seemed as though some of the committee members were undercutting the feelings of the committee. He wanted any discussion along those lines to happen within the committee.
Jensen said, he had asked years ago why there was no documentation of who in a committee supported a resolution and who did not. He said he was told the fact that a committee sent a resolution on to the full county board did not necessarily show support for the resolution, simply that the committee felt it should be forwarded on for consideration and discussion.
For this particular topic, Jensen said, more information was available to the county board that was not made at the time of the committee meeting.
Mott said he did not believe the topic was fully vetted with Michele Sadauskas, the county conservationist. He felt, because the topic was within the scope of that department, proper time had not been given for the land and water department to be fully informed as to whether this difference in setback would have an affect, and how much difference it could potentially make.
Jensen made the argument that, from a tax-base standpoint, in his township alone, there would be many properties that could not be developed if the setback were to stay at 15 feet or to be increased. He also said, without a clause to grandfather in existing properties and driveways, there would be driveways in his township that would no longer be able to be graded, citing that perhaps these were put in when the setback was five feet in the past. From an economic standpoint, he said, that setback could make a good-sized difference.
There was some discussion about what to include on the "mining" tab of the Oneida County Land and Water Conservation website, oclw.org. Department administrative assistant Jonna Jewell walked the committee through various parts of the website, explaining the recently added information and asking what other information should be included, in the interest of transparency around the subject of mining within the county.
The question was whether mining applications and any official documents should be housed on the OCLW website. Recent and potential mining projects are listed on the website. There are links to news stories regarding mining as well as information for each potential mine site. One question was whether it might be beneficial to include the permitting process on the website, as well as the applications currently approved.
The committee felt a link to applications approved by the state could be added to the website on the application was approved by the county. They felt information regarding the permitting process would also be a good idea.
Oneida County AIS coordinator Stephanie Boismenue made a presentation to the committee regarding grants received for the upcoming year. She reported each of the grants for which the county applied were fully funded. In total, throughout the state, there were $4.4 million in applications for the $2.8 million in grant funding available. Oneida County applied for three grants, one for AIS (Aquatic invasive species), a Lake Classification grant and a River Classification grant.
The county's AIS education grant application, she said, ranked number one of thirteen applications. That grant, of $43,823 would fund three LTE positions. Of the total 1,800 hours for those positions, Boismenue said, 625 of those would be used for watercraft inspection at launch ramps within the county.
The lake classification grant was $45,000, she said. The river classification grant came in at $10,000. The lake classification grant allows the county to hire an LTE for 2020 and 2021 for 1,200 hours. Baerbel Ehrig, who also works as Oneida County's pollinator coordinator, will fill that role. This grant promoted and implements lake restoration projects as well as shoreline improvement projects. This will be done in conjunction with the lake associations from Lake Tomahawk, Pelican and Three Lakes.
The river classification grant allows for an LTE for 380 hours to map, assess and prioritize 90 stream crossings in five townships. The department was very excited to hear all of their grants were fully funded for this year.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at email@example.com.
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