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Judge rules in favor of Saratoga dairy
April 17, 2013

A judge ruled Thursday in favor of a company that plans to build a large-scale dairy in the town of Saratoga, but hurdles remain for the project.

Wysocki Family of Cos. intends to construct the 5,300-animal, 7,000-acre Golden Sands Dairy in Saratoga, a community between Wisconsin Rapids and the northern Adams County town of Rome. Saratoga leaders have opposed the plan for the concentrated animal feeding operation, also called a CAFO, and refused to issue building permits for the project.

On Thursday, Portage County Circuit Judge Thomas Eagon, acting as a substitute judge in the Wood County case, ordered Saratoga’s building inspector, Lorelei Fuehrer, to issue permits for seven structures for the proposed dairy.

Even with Thursday’s ruling, several legal and regulatory hurdles remain, including the state Department of Natural Resources’ approval process and a court case challenging a Saratoga moratorium that restricts new construction in the town.

Jim Wysocki, chief financial officer for the Wysocki Family of Cos., said he hopes the dairy can move forward and become good neighbors to the people in the town.

A standing-room only crowd attended the court proceedings Thursday, with people opposed to the dairy wearing bright green “no factory farm” T-shirts. The group was silent when Eagon issued his ruling.

Nancy Koch, who has been a leader in the group opposing the large-scale dairy, said after the hearing she is disappointed in the decision.

“I think we were totally surprised,” Koch said.

Eagon said Fuehrer could not use the state’s uniform dwelling code to deny building permits for a farm. State statutes explicitly exempt farm buildings, Eagon said. The state’s commercial code also exempts farm buildings.

Although people have expressed concern about how the 49 proposed high-capacity wells for the dairy and the manure from the cows will impact water supplies, those issues are not part of the case, Eagon said. The concerns might be legitimate, but the DNR will consider them as a different part of the process, he said.

The standard practice for issuing building permits for farms is basically to ask how big the buildings are and where they will be, Eagon said.

Fuehrer’s attorney, Lori Lubinsky, said she was disappointed with how Eagon interpreted some of the laws, particularly the uniform dwelling code.

Lubinsky said she does not know, at this time, whether Fuehrer will appeal Eagon’s decision.

“We’re going to have to review everything and make a determination,” Lubinsky said. “Right now, I just don‘t know.”

Koch said, although she is disappointed, the court case is only the first step in the process of the company building the dairy.

“There’s a lot more to come,” Koch said.

The DNR will hold public hearings on the proposed dairy once an environmental impact statement, currently being put together by the Wysocki Family of Cos., is complete.

Source: Wisconsin Rapids Tribute


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