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  Friday January 30th, 2015    

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Is industrial zone appropriate near C-FC school? (02/19/2014)
From: Jeff Falk

Fountain City, Wis.

The following was my statement to the Buffalo County Zoning Committee on the request for a rezone of the Starkey/Kamrowski agricultural land to industrial. A few additional comments follow. “Hold onto your seats! I am not going to do my usual discussion on air quality. I am going to take the distinguished chairperson’s directive to heart and discuss the ZONING application.

“I ask that you assume Mr. Nordolf’s statements on Tuesday were absolute truth. After all, he is a lawyer. In that case, as he maintained, specifics about what will happen on the proposed site are irrelevant. The only relevant question is whether the property should be rezoned industrial. And even though Mr. Nordolf spoke an inordinate amount of time about what will happen on the site and was not admonished by the distinguished chair of this committee, I will stick to the question of a rezone to industrial.

“What can be placed on an industrially-zoned site? If you have ever driven Highway 94 through Milwaukee with your vehicle windows open, you probably remember the sweet smell of chocolate as you passed the Ambrosia Chocolate factory. The day after the Starkey/Kamrowski site was rezoned, plans could change and a chocolate factory could be placed there. After all, it would be an industrial zone! The sweet smell of chocolate could envelop the area. That might not be so bad. But that smell 24 hours a day seven days a week might lose some of its sweetness.

“But maybe not chocolate. Maybe an asphalt plant with the “sweet” smell of asphalt. How about a salvage yard? a steel recycling plant with melt furnaces? A medical incinerator? A hazardous waste landfill? How about a foundry with tall chimneys for its casting ovens? Speaking of tall chimneys, are there height restrictions for structures in industrial zones? Do you know? If not, you had better find out.

“The zoning ordinance has a limit on how near a place of adult entertainment can be to a school. Would it be OK with you to locate a studio producing adult entertainment devices and films on that land? What’s to stop it if the land is rezoned industrial?

“But, you say that is not the plan. Again, as Mr. Nordolf and your distinguished chair maintain, the plan is not relevant. What is relevant is whether you agree that these types of industrial activities are OK in that area. It is not a question whether they will or will not actually be there. Voting to recommend acceptance of this application means you would be OK with any of these in that area. That’s what the designation ‘industrial’ brings with it.

“Of course, in case it wasn’t clear, I was being sarcastic in suggesting that everything Mr. Nordolf says should be taken as absolute truth. I am not being sarcastic in suggesting this rezone would be inappropriate and should not be recommended.”

The chairman of the committee had previously stated that comments would be confined to questions about rezoning. To my complete surprise, he instead allowed people to speak about anything and did not cut anyone off. That was both admirable and confusing. Admirable, for that is what democracy is about, and confusing because it allowed other committee members to demonstrate their lack of understanding of the concept of zoning and comment only on the particulars of what was an admittedly preliminary proposal for what would be placed on the site. The rezone to industrial was no longer the issue. Sand and traffic and “progress,” issues for a Board of Adjustment conditional use permit hearing and not a rezone, sadly became the issues. One can only hope this will not be the case at the meeting on Thursday.



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