Bradford Township studying pivot ban

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
— The town of Bradford could create an ordinance to regulate center-pivot manure sprayers.

But it is not likely to imitate the town of Johnstown's nuisance ordinance, Bradford Town Board Chairman Ron Duffy said.

Although Tuesday's town board meeting was not a public hearing, a handful of people spoke about the possibility of banning center pivots in the township. Such pivots are included in plans for a 5,200-cow dairy farm on Highway 14 about eight miles east of Janesville.

Bradford resident Tim Bliss asked town board members to consider the will of residents and ban the pivots.

"The nuisance being potential pathogens and the potential smell this might create," Bliss said.

Farmers use such systems to pump water from the top of manure-storage lagoons after some of the solid waste has settled out. The liquid waste is sprayed onto growing crops.

Advocates of such systems say they allow farmers to use fertilizer efficiently. Opponents say the pivot systems create more odor than other application methods.

Dairy farmer Todd Tuls, who wants to build the Rock Prairie Dairy, uses center pivots to spread some of the waste from his two farms in eastern Nebraska. Tuls milks 10,000 cows on those farms.

The nearby town of Johnstown in January banned the pivots as an odor-creating nuisance.

Duffy said Bradford could create an ordinance, although it would not likely be a nuisance ordinance.

Town attorney Dave Moore was not at the board meeting, but in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, he said the town has several options to regulate pivots if the town chooses to do so.

The town would consider the pivots as a separate entity from the facility, Moore said.

The town could use its zoning power to ban pivots or could require producers to get conditional-use permits to operate them, Moore said.

Moore said such regulations would not conflict with the state's livestock siting law, which prevents towns from creating ordinances that are more restrictive than the law.

The town would avoid conflict because the state does not regulate air quality or odors created at the site of waste application, he said. The state only regulates odors and pollutants created on a farm itself.

"There's a big gap in state standards," Moore said. "There are not air-quality regulations (at application sites)."

In the meantime, the board on Tuesday, March 8, could take action on the conditional-use permit application for the dairy.

That date is not finalized.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday certified its environmental analysis of the proposal as well as the site plans for the production facility, said Anna Wildeman, the attorney for Rock Prairie Dairy.

The DNR still is considering the center-pivot proposals, Wildeman said.

Certifying the analysis is one step in issuing a Wastewater Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is the state's version of an operating permit for large farms.

The DNR will issue a draft permit and hold a public hearing before granting the permit.

The town had been waiting for the state to certify the analysis before granting its conditional-use permit.

Tuls plans to break ground in March. He has applied for many local, county and state permits to build and operate the facility. He doesn't need to get approval on every permit before breaking ground, but he will need approval on all of them before he can bring cows into the new facility.

Last updated: 4:14 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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