Plan Commission approves ag ed permit
The City of Kewaunee Plan Commission Tuesday night approved a conditional use permit that will allow the Kewaunee School District to proceed with building its new agricultural education building while the city council reviews its livestock ordinance.
Five members of the commission voted for the permit, one abstained and one was absent.
“I feel good that after a public hearing and due process that we are able to grant the permit,” said Jeff Vollenweider, Plan Commission chairman.
The school district has proposed building the new agricultural building behind senior housing on 13 acres it owns that is now an agricultural field, but is zoned for residential housing.
Attorneys for the city, school district and plan commission have been wrestling the last few weeks on whether or not they can allow the district to move forward with their plans when a city ordinance prevents the harboring of livestock within residential areas of the city.
The permit approval decision calls for the City Council to review the ordinance and consider amending it to permit certain persons, such as the School District, to keep, harbor and feed certain livestock, possibly subject to limitations.
The approval of the permit allows the building inspector to issue the permit, said Kyle Ellefson, city administrator.
“In the meantime, we will be reviewing the livestock ordinance to possibly change it to allow the presence of livestock in the building under agreed upon conditions,”he said.
The approval came after school district and city officials met following a public hearing Feb. 25 and drafted jointly proposed conditions that would be required under the permit.
The conditions were approved by the Plan Commission and include requiring the school district to submit an annual report for the next two years to the plan commission that contains a detailed summary regarding the presence of livestock on the parcel and any complaints the school district has received. If permitted by the revised city ordinance, the school district will be allowed to harbor calves, steers, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, cows and heifers and keep no more than 24 chickens.
While the chickens can be kept for 10 weeks twice during an annual period, all other permitted livestock may be kept no more than two consecutive days and no more than 20 days during a year, under the approved conditions.
“We are thrilled, relieved and excited to be moving forward and pleased to work together with the city to make this happen,” said Karen Treml, Kewaunee School District administrator.
Architects for the project at the public hearing presented renderings of the proposed 10,500-square-foot agricultural building, which will have an entrance off Third Street.
Approximately half of the gray-clad building will be allocated to classroom space, including a room for farm animals that features masonry walls and a concrete floor that has a high sound rating. The other half of the building will be district storage areas.
Animal waste will be handled by a trench around the room that will empty into a 1,000-gallon holding tank and ventilation will be provided to reduce odors. The building will also have a greenhouse.
“At the most there will be three animals in the building at one time,” Treml said. “We are not starting a farm; it will be a classroom experience for kids.”
Treml said trucks containing the animals will be brought right up to the building entrance for unloading and lead into an enclosed space with gates and glass separating the animal from students.
Most animals would only be kept for a day or two, said Randy Charles, agricultural teacher for Kewaunee schools.
The district is also talking with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) about teaching some classes for college credit at the new building, but NWTC is still evaluating its program and is not ready to make any commitments yet, Treml said.
Karen Ebert Yancey can be reached at [email protected], Kewaunee County Star News Facebook, on Twitter at @EbertYancey or by calling 920-559-1235.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Plan Commission approves ag ed permit