Jan 8, 2016

Citizens Fete Win in Stripping Controversial 'Vested Rights' Initiative

Citizens groups in Wood County Wisconsin and
surrounding region oppose CAFOs and aerial
liquid manure spraying
. Photo by Martha Karris of
Rome and Saratoga-Friendly in Wisconsin

Citizens fighting an industrialized conglomerate's agricultural factory before it begins operation scored a success yesterday at the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison.

In Adams, Wood and surrounding counties in central Wisconsin, residents have been fighting a proposed CAFO or Concentrated (Confined) Agricultural Operation centered in the town of Saratoga.

Earlier this week, residents tracked down to the capitol to be heard on their objections to the "vested rights" language in two piece of legislation, Senate Bill 464 and Assembly Bill 582.

The vested rights provision would strip away local control in an unprecedented manner in Wisconsin.

They claim success, noting the vested rights provisions has been stripped out of legislation.

Writes Wisconsin State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), often mentioned as a possible 2018 gubernatorial candidate:

In a bill, introduced just before Christmas ... the simple action of applying for a driveway permit or a state culvert permit could 'freeze in place' any local ordinance or state law.

For example, on the date a person applies for a driveway permit and discloses a proposed project, the ordinances and rules of all levels of local and state government could be frozen in place on that date provided the driveway is constructed within a stated deadline — even though some aspects of the project may not be completed for many years. (Winona Daily News)

Vinehout notes the pollution, health and property valuations hits that would follow passage of the proposed diminution of local control: "When does your neighbor’s property right limit your own rights? What if your neighbor built a fireworks factory next door? How about a large hog operation? Or an industrial sand mine?

Notes Criste Sullivan-Greening of Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors: "Hearing on AB 582 was today. Rep. Jarchow [(R-Balsam Lake] informed the committee that the ENTIRE vested rights provision has been removed from the bill. Great news for Saratoga and for citizens and municipalities across Wisconsin. Mark one in the WIN category for the little people!"

Reports Don Ystad of Nekoosa in Wood County:

Friends and neighbors,

Here's what happens when you take the time to state your case with your politicians. 8 people from Rome and Saratoga sat for 8 hours on Tuesday at a Senate public hearing in Madison to express our concerns with the "vested rights" and retroactive provisions of a very bad land use bill. People showed up again yesterday to contest the Assembly version of the bill. These bills could have made the proposed CAFO in Saratoga a "slam dunk" had no one contested it. As a result, we are back on an even playing field where that CAFO is concerned.

So, it demonstrates the need for us to be aware and be involved to protect our community. These are not the only poisonous bills out there. In fact, the year started with 7 environment threatening bills in the first week of the year. While you may not have the time or desire to sit at a hearing all day, you may find time to communicate your concerns through e-mail, letters or phone calls. That's becoming more and more important as we hear the DNR's Environmental Impact Statement may be released in the next month or so.  It's time to exercise that "court of public opinion".

For my fellow Rome property owners, your opportunity to be better informed about the proposed CAFO is at the Rome town hall on Saturday, January 16th at 1:00 PM where a meeting supported by your Rome town board and TriLakes will separate rumor from reality.  You'll hear factual information from Dr George Kraft of UWSP, our Assemblyman Scott Krug, and a DNR representative, among others. And, it will help you to know what you can do to help keep this CAFO out of our area.


  1. Keep your eyes peeled. They will try to put it back in later.

    1. I think you're right. They know what Scott Krug and Scott Walker are about. The strategy is to fight on many fronts, and win in the arena of public opinion, and keep up petitions to the EPA. I was in Wisconsin Rapids and Saratoga this weekend. You would not believe all of the anti-CAFO signs in this sleepy region of central Wisconsin.