A six-month moratorium on the expansion and creation of large-scale livestock facilities in Eau Claire County could be extended.
During its regular meeting tonight, the Eau Claire County Board is expected to act on a proposed resolution extending the moratorium for two months.
On Oct. 2, the County Board approved a six-month moratorium — which was six months shorter than the 12-month moratorium originally proposed — with the caveat that it could be extended for up to six months by a majority vote of the board.
“Two months is not that long,” said Supervisor Jim Dunning, a member of the board’s Planning and Development Committee, which approved the extension. “It’s important that this is done right.”
Members of the public presented Planning and Development Department staff with a proposed large-scale livestock facilities moratorium, Greg Leonard, county land conservation manager, said in a report to the County Board last year.
After staff review, revisions of the proposed moratorium were returned to the people who originally presented it, and the revised version was presented to the Eau Claire County Land Conservation Commission.
“The purposes of this ordinance are to allow Eau Claire County (time) to investigate the impacts of large-scale livestock facilities on groundwater, surface water and air quality, specifically as those issues apply in Eau Claire County, and allow Eau Claire County adequate time to review current ordinances, to study and determine whether amendment of existing ordinances and/or creation and adoption of other ordinances applicable in all unincorporated areas within Eau Claire County is appropriate,” Leonard wrote.
A motion to adopt a 12-month moratorium — before the Land Conservation Commission Aug. 16 — failed. However, the Planning and Development Committee, which met in September, approved a motion to adopt a 12-month moratorium. The matter then went before the County Board.
Since the passage of the moratorium, an Ag Ordinance Review Special Committee was formed and has been meeting regularly since November.
“During this time, the (committee) has conducted farm tours; heard from county staff … regarding current regulations and issues and from state agency staff from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection on state law and administrative rule,” Rod Eslinger, county planning and development director, said in a fact sheet.
However, additional work, including reviewing the county’s animal waste storage ordinance and state’s livestock siting law, needs to be done, he said.
“The two additional months are essential for the drafting and passage of the necessary ordinances to implement the (committee’s) recommendations,” Eslinger wrote.
Supervisor Gary Gibson, who serves on the Planning and Development and Ag Ordinance Review Special committees, believes the County Board will extend the moratorium.
“Once I explain it to the County Board, I don’t think anyone will have a problem with it,” he said.