Neighbor reacts to Livestock Facility Siting Review Board decision
Glenner v. Walworth County, and Friemoth v. Walworth County, Docket No. 17-LFSRB-02, Cheryl Daniels, Board Attorney
With reference to the above matter, I want to make it clear that my neighbors and I are very supportive of our farming community. I was pleased with the thoughtful consideration of this matter by the Livestock Facility Siting Review Board. The challenge of the County Zoning Agency of Walworth County’s siting permit approval was successful, but I believe that the Siting Board’s decision may not provide sufficient guidance to the County Zoning Agency so that it can properly conduct all future hearings and siting applications reviews.
During its discussion of the matter, the Siting Board indicated (i) there is a correct method to both comply with state and local law while still complying with Siting Law, (ii) there are ways to regulate and protect the public safety and welfare by the County uniformly enforcing state and local laws, rules, and regulations designed to protect the public interest, and (iii) the County Zoning Agency of Walworth County failed to prepare and vote upon required Findings of Fact and receive into the public record certain showings and documents. The County Zoning Agency of Walworth County should now correct its errors and the Friemoths should submit accurate documents and application materials. The public should be allowed to receive these documents and materials and challenge them, if appropriate.
The appeal has been about appropriately granting an expansion of an existing livestock operation to 944 Animal Units. Walworth County is responsible for making sure that all applicable laws, rules and regulations are complied with. The County also has the duty to protect the public safety and welfare of the community.
The County was aware that the Friemoths were operating above the allowed number of Animal Units for the facility and yet it initially approved an expansion of additional Animal Units without appropriately considering ground water contamination, ground water run-off, significant odor problems and other environmental concerns which could adversely affect neighbors’ contiguous land and Sugar Creek.
I am very concerned after listening to the video of the County Zoning Agency from Thursday, January 18, 2018 that the County may not properly handle this and other similar matters given a statement that Walworth County should consider whether it wants “to stay in this business of livestock siting in general.” Walworth County has a legal obligation to protect its citizens’ health, welfare and safety.
It is important that Walworth County, which has the financial and institutional resources available to it, not be allowed to abdicate its responsibility. The original vote by the County Zoning Agency of Walworth County likely would have been different if: (i) the Friemoths (represented by competent counsel from Michael Best & Friedrich, one of the largest law firms in the State of Wisconsin,) had provided all the facts and required completed documentation; (ii) the inaccuracies in the Applicant’s statements and documentation were made clear and were properly addressed in the required Findings of Fact; (iii) the Friemoths’ uncertainty of utilizing additives (which they took credit for in calculating their odor score) were known by the County; and (iv) the County was aware of Applicants’ intent to request reversal of conditions that were previously agreed upon by the Applicants while they were assisted by competent counsel.
It would be unfortunate if the Siting Board’s decision had the unintended effect of discouraging applicants to work with the community and neighbors to balance their economic interests and environmental concerns.
To prevent such an unfortunate result, I am willing to exercise all rights and remedies available at law to protect our community and find a proper balance to support the farming community within Walworth County.
Cary S. Glenner
Highland Park, IL