Ban to continue for another 6 months
BY KEVIN BONESKE
The Oneida County Board has approved a six-month extension on the current county ban on allowing farming operations with 500 or more “animal units.”
The county’s one-year moratorium was set to expire next month. The County Board’s action at its meeting Tuesday now sets the expiration date to Aug. 9.
“This is asking for another six-month extension to give the staff enough time to write an ordinance,” said county planning and zoning director Karl Jennrich. “The only thing that’s transpired since you passed the moratorium was we have solicited input from the towns.
“We’ve got input from about a half-dozen towns that stated they want the moratorium to be extended, and they are not interested in having these type of facilities within their townships. So, I just need time to bring back an ordinance to you.”
In January of last year, the County Board passed a resolution to impose the moratorium to prohibit new livestock facilities of 500 or more animal units, for which the definition takes into account the types of animals to assign a numerical value per animal, to provide time to determine whether the county’s zoning and shoreland protection ordinance should be amended or a livestock facilities zoning ordinance should be created to protect public health or safety.
Jennrich said the moratorium was brought to the County Board over concerns related to plans to place a large-scale pig farm in Bayfield County.
“So when that hit Bayfield County, some of the counties thought maybe they should have a moratorium and write an ordinance that would regulate it,” he said.
Given other matters the planning and zoning department has been involved in, such as rewriting the county’s shoreland zoning protection ordinance in response to changes in state law that no longer allow the county to enforce stricter shoreland zoning standards than established in the applicable state law and regulations, Jennrich said he has yet to get around to do the proper research for writing an ordinance to regulate large-scale farming operations.
“We have some done research with (the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection) on how you can and cannot regulate these, because there is a state ordinance that’s out there on some of these exclusive (agricultural) areas, so I have to go through that process, and I have to get this done,” he said.
Being that Oneida County doesn’t have exclusive agricultural districts, Jennrich said the county could possibly limit the number of animals allowed. He noted animal herds presently exist in the county, but not the large-scale variety.
“We don’t have these concentrated feed lot operations where you’re basically bringing animals into a certain area, providing them with feed (and) getting them up to weight to ship them,” he said.
Though none of the larger farms now exist in the county, Jennrich said that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be an attempt for one to do so in the future.
“We’ve had some weird inquiries over the years,” he said. “There could be someone that would want to place one here. And you as a County Board have to figure out if you want them or you don’t.”