Local Views: Landowner responds to column decrying tower in Dane County

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Sue Wollin
Saturday, March 22, 2014

This is in response to Bill Lueders’ column on Page 8A March 10 titled “Locals lose their tower power.” My brother, David Soldwedel, and I own Stoughton Farms. We’ve been farming in Rutland since 1960. We no longer raise livestock but continue to farm the tillable acres. We’ve always been good stewards of the land, good neighbors and positively engaged in the town of Rutland.

In early 2010, Dave Magnum approached us. After several months of reviewing his tower project and the related Rutland and Dane County ordinances, we agreed to sell him land behind a 60-acre field adjacent to a quarry and Conservation Reserve Program acres.

Clearly, towers are lawful; Rutland has three—all closer to roads and environmental areas than Magnum’s would be. Dane County’s consulting engineer wrote that this tower is “in the public interest.”

As for lights, a Rutland resident said during a town meeting he can see seven lighted towers from Rutland and didn’t want to see another. He didn’t realize he made the point that lighted towers aren’t a new concept. Five towers between 400 and 500 feet tall are in the region just south of Madison.

My understanding is that landowners still have property rights. There’s much my brother and I like about using this site for a tower. Of the 15.5 acres Magnum would buy, 8.8 are fallow. Of the 6.7 tillable acres, the skinny tower (only 48 inches wide), transmitter shed and anchors take up just .04 percent of the tillable land. No trees would need to be removed, and the land would remain mostly in its natural state, in essence, a permanent “green space.”

Before building its WSUM radio tower, UW-Madison endured a similar ordeal. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi stated he wants to create “green” jobs. What’s more “green” than a tower for a radio station? No smoke comes out; you apply electricity to it and create jobs. Businesses will sponsor radio coverage of high school athletics.

As for Jessica Polakowski, a Madison lawyer and Rutland resident, prior to buying the 50 acres to build her home, she and her husband resided approximately two miles farther east of their present residence. Before Polakowski closed her property, Magnum could be seen driving Rutland roads in a van displaying large station logos. He talked with many landowners, the town clerk (one of the three Rutland towers is on her farmland, and neighbors also battled her), walked our land with Town Chairman Dale Beske, and even appeared before the Town of Rutland Planning Commission.

Last, before the Dane County Board even voted on the original tower application, Ms. Polakowski started building her house. Apparently, like all the people who built houses next to the two WIBA towers on Fish Hatchery Road, she realized a tower isn’t a reason not to build.

Sue S. Wollin and her brother, David Soldwedel, are co-owners of Stoughton Farms, the property in the Dane County town of Rutland, south of Madison, where Tomah-based Magnum Communications wants to erect a 486-foot broadcasting tower.  Readers can contact her by email at stfinc2@gmail.com.

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