Farm's growth puts it in conflict with neighbors

Doug Schneider

LEDGEVIEW - Newly released documents shed some light on a proposed farming expansion that is prompting concerns in a rural Brown County town.

Records from the state Department of Natural Resources add detail to a proposal to add animals, and manure-storage capacity, at Ledgeview Farms LLC. The business, a concentrated animal feeding operation based at 3870 Dickinson Road, is owned by a longtime Ledgeview Family.

In response to an Open Records law request from USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, DNR released documents related to the farm's application to add manure-storage capacity that would enable it to expand its herd. 

Those records show that the farm hopes to increase its herd by 170 cattle. It also shows that the business proposes to increase its storage capacity to 9 million gallons of manure and liquids — a figure lower than some residents of a nearby residential area had speculated.

Ledgeview Farms LLC buildings are visible behind a house in a new residential development in Ledgeview.

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DNR officials said the business has filed partial paperwork for permits to expand its manure storage. Town officials said earlier this month that they had not been notified of the numbers.

Residents of a nearby development of custom houses have raised concerns. Some neighbors want government to stop or limit the expansion, while others said they will try to work with the farm's owners to work out a solution that benefits both sides.

Jason "Jake" Pansier, whose family owns the farm, said the business will comply with regulations governing manure-storage and herd size, but has otherwise made little public comment about the family's plans.

Here are some answers to key questions about the issue.

What is the issue?

Ledgeview Farms wants to expand its herd. To do so, it must increase its capacity for handing and storing manure and liquids. That means building a storage facility. Regulations require capacity to store 180 days worth of material.

The farm has proposed installing a storage facility; that requires permits to be issued.

So, what's the big deal?

Neighbors who packed a recent town board meeting raised concerns about increased manure storage. They boil down to three issues: health/safety, nuisances and re-sale questions.

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Health and safety concerns range from stored manure leaking or leaching into ground and surface water, to a child wandering near the pit and falling in. A manure spill at a large dairy farm in July caused a "significant fish kill" in Dutchman Creek on the Oneida Indian Reservation in northern Outagamie County.

Nuisance concerns include odor complaints often raised by people who've moved near a farm. And some neighbors worry that proximity to a farm handling more manure would make it difficult should they try to sell their houses.