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Larson Acres expansion gets first nod

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 9, 2009
— The clock has started ticking toward a town of Magnolia decision on a proposed dairy farm expansion at Larson Acres.

The town on Thursday deemed the farm’s conditional-use permit application complete. That gives the town 90 days to approve or turn down the application.


The planning commission also voted to recommend to the board that it approve the application. The commission’s vote suggested the board consider requiring the farm to test surface water in two nearby creeks as well as in a small number of private wells located downhill from the farm and to require landscaping on a berm between the farm and its neighbor to the north.


The town board will hold a public hearing and likely will take up the matter at its regular November meeting.


In July, Larson Acres submitted an application to build a $12.8 million expansion. The project would double the farm’s herd to 5,275 Holsteins. Currently the farm raises 2,668 animals on two farms at 18218 W. Highway 59, Evansville, and 17162 W. County B, Brodhead.


Both farms are in Magnolia Township in northwestern Rock County.


Two weeks ago, the farm added to the original application after the town said it was incomplete.


A mix of town residents and agricultural professionals spoke during Thursday’s public hearing. All who spoke were in favor of the expansion, although many cautioned that local groundwater must be protected.


The farm has gotten most of the approvals it needs for the project, spokesman Mike Larson said. All construction permits have been approved, but the farm is waiting for permits from the town and the state to populate the facility, Larson said.


Construction already is under way.


Wind moratorium


The plan commission on Thursday unanimously voted to recommend a moratorium on wind farm construction in Magnolia Township.


The town board Tuesday could vote on the issue.


The point of the moratorium is to cover the gray area left between the local ordinance the town adopted in July and the state ordinance that could be adopted in the future, town attorney Glenn Reynolds said.


Gov. Jim Doyle in September signed a state law that puts the siting of small wind projects into the hands of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.


Once the statewide siting rules are written, they will overrule local ordinances.


Magnolia’s moratorium would not include turbines for use by private homeowners, Reynolds said.


The town of Union enacted a similar moratorium earlier this month. Both towns have adopted wind-siting ordinances.


Wind developer EcoEnergy has proposed projects in both communities.



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