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February 21, 2020

12/16/2019 8:38:00 AM
Town of Brigham follows residents' wishes and tells BARD no

If BARD Materials is going to operate a quarry in the area it won't be doing it in the Town of Brigham.
After Ben Schroeder who represents BARD, discussed the project that would take land from the Robert J and Marianne Jensen property and use it as a quarry, a steady stream of protesters told the three person town board they did not want it to happen.
The property in question is near the intersection of county road ID and Mounds View Road. It would be close to the existing Thoni Quarry that has been in existence several years.
Schroeder was asking through BARD and the Jensens to have the property rezoned from A-1 (agriculture) to AB-1 (ag business). He was further asking for a conditional use permit for non-metallic surface mining of limestone and dolomite.
The Jensens said the land is not fit for agriculture as they have tried to make it work but have had little success. They said they had not been able to sell the property because of the poor soil conditions until BARD came along with the proposal to use it as a quarry.
Schroeder discussed the plans BARD has for the mining operation which he said would follow all regulations imposed by Iowa County.  He added he has been in touch with County Zoning Administrator Scott Godfrey with every step of the plan.
He added that BARD is bonded so if anything happened to the company the mining operation would be able to continue. He added that every ordinance imposed by the county will be followed.
Jeff Carden, who chairs the town board, said this is step two of a four step process. The Town of Brigham Planning Commission had approved the zoning change but did not approve the conditional use permit.
The Town Board now has its shot at approving or denying the request. After that action the matter moves to the county's planning commission and finally the Iowa County Board.
The Brigham Planning Commission voted 3-2 in favor and 3-2 against the two proposals.
Schroeder said the Jensen property is rock based with little topsoil. He added the land is currently in CRP as that is the best that can be done with the soil being sub-standard. He said BARD will allow the CRP to continue as long as it meets necessary guidelines.
Government agencies that would be included as the project unveils are the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Natural Resources along with the county and the township.
He added that BARD takes a "safety first" approach to all their projects.
"We want everyone to go home safe at the end of the day," Schroeder said. He added that inspections of projects are done regularly.
Schroeder also said land values are holding up near the Thoni Quarry which is within a quarter of a mile of the Jensen property. He said the project should not destroy land values.
Nineteen people testified at the public comment portion of the meeting with most opposed to the project.
One not opposed was attorney Tia Fisher who represents BARD. She said she grew up in Wyoming Valley where a quarry helped shape the area. She said Mr. Brigham, who the township was named after, was a lead miner.
Fisher added that when barbed wire came into existence, farmers broke down their limestone fences to use the product to enhance their soil.
Lisa Aumann was opposed to the project. She said she lives "down the road" from the proposed operation and does not feel the "Big Hole" is good for the entire area.
She added that the area is beautiful and the project would not be good for access. She is opposed to any ag business in the area and opposes the rezoning.
Doug Palmer said the project is in opposition to the township's comprehensive plan and the overall goals of the township.  He said it will destroy the natural beauty and that is why many people choose to live here. He asked the board to preserve agricultural opportunity and preserve the environment by denying the request.
"The project is against the 20 year vision of our comprehensive plan," he concluded.
One speaker said it is only fair to the property owner to let them know what can go on their property and what cannot. The speaker said there is ETZ (extraterritorial zoning) possible within 1.5 miles of the village and annexation could be possible. He felt it would be worth talking about.
Denise Steinhauer, with a load of documents in hand, said the neighbors are all against the project. She said the project would strip the land, cause groundwater pollution, create vibration from blasting, affect the groundwater supply, affect Blue Mounds State Park. She was also concerned with jake breaking by trucks and the affects on wild bird migration.
"It will be a negative impact for 50 plus years," she said.
Tory Meyer agreed. She said her husband had leased the Jensen property but left it, not because of the soil conditions, but because they downsized their beef operation. She felt the land could be used for crops again and is opposed to the project.
Those opposed to the project continued to speak in opposition to the project. Some felt the tax impact would be negative to the township.
George Stauffer said he understands the need for quarrys but does not feel one should be located in the proposed area. He was concerned with destroying the beauty of the surrounding area.
Jennifer Wren said she is concerned with the dust. She said there is a horse farm in the area and dust along with increased traffic is not conducive to the horse population. She is opposed to the project.
Robert Jensen spoke about the property he is trying to sell and said again the land is not conducive to farming.
"Others have tried it and is has not worked," he said.
In answer to what would the quarry be used for when it is used up, Schroeder pointed to what has been done in Dickeyville where the quarry was reclaimed and now houses a logging operation.
Schroeder added BARD would provide any information needed to move forward with the project and that he felt all concerns could be handled.
But the Town Board felt differently. After discussing positive vs negative motions, Jerry Davis made a motion to approve the request while indicating he would vote against it, but wanted it to be a positive motion. When the vote was taken, Davis voted no and Jeff Zander yes, leaving the decision up to Carden who voted no.
The project will now move to the county for further action.
The board had a guest at their meeting to discuss one of the neighboring school districts.
Jill Underly, Pecatonica school district administrator, visited the Brigham Town Board as part of her program to speak with each body of government within the district. She said there are 13 municipalities within the district which she is visiting.
She told the board the district, like many others, is facing a decline in enrollment, adding the housing just is not there to grow the district. She said other issues the district faces is a lack of day care and long commutes to places of employment.
To answer, the need the district has incorporated an all day 4K program five days a week that should help with child care. She added the district only dropped 10 students last year after seeing as many as 50 in previous years.
Over the last 15 years the district has lost over 100 students, Underly said.
"Every district in our CESA #3 is losing students," Underly continued.
She said the Pecatonica district is constantly working at improving services and is presently working with the University of Wisconsin for staff enrichment.
Other matters Underly discussed are the need for mental health programs, food pantries and the need for kids to be community minded,
"We are doing what we can to protect your investment," Underly said. "You are invested into our school district."

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