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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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To Hold Crivitz/Stephenson Zoning Meetings Every Fourth Thursday

Issue Date: April 25, 2019

The first meeting of the Village of Crivitz/Town of Stephenson Joint Extraterritorial Zoning (ETZ) Committee drew over 40 members of the public to the Crivitz Village Hall on Thursday, April 18. Agenda for this initial meeting did not provide for public input, but ETZ members agreed they want to hear from affected property owners and residents and will allow 20 minutes at each future meeting for public questions and comments.

In addition to setting rules for public input, the committee laid a general framework for how the meetings will be conducted, and decided they will meet regularly at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month until their work is done, starting with Thursday, May 23.

By state law, work on the ordinance can take two to three years, and during that time existing uses are frozen for all properties in the Extraterritorial Zoning District except by special permit. The ETZ includes all Town of Stephenson properties within a mile and half boundary around the entire village, the maximum allowed by state law. All of the ETZ properties are located in the Town of Stephenson but in many cases they are adjacent to homes and/or businesses located in the Village of Crivitz.

In November of 2018 Crivitz Village Board adopted the extra-territorial zoning ordinance with the intent of wellhead protection - preventing activities that could damage quality of the groundwater from which the village water supply is drawn.

Villages and cities are allowed to unilaterally adopt ETZ ordinances. The town had no input as to whether or not the ETZ ordinance was passed, but will have input as to what it contains. Before final adoption there will also be public hearings, giving affected property owners an opportunity for official input.

In the months after adoption the boards of the village and the town appointed members to serve on the Joint ETZ Committee and held some discussions on how things might proceed.

Members chosen by Stephenson Town Board for its ETZ Committee are Board Chair Mike Kudick and supervisors Jim Stradl and Kevin Solway. Representing Crivitz Village Board are its Development Committee members: Trustees Stewart Swanson and Amy Grandaw, and Chair Jeff Dorschner, who chaired the first meeting.

All were present for the April 18 meeting, along with Village Attorney Richard Boren and Village Clerk/Treasurer Marilyn Padgett, Kurt Kostuch, formerly chaired the Development committee, was elected Village President on Tuesday, April 2, and the village is currently accepting applications from persons seeking to fill that trustee term, which ends in April of 2020.

It was agreed that the town and village committee chairs will alternate chairing the monthly joint committee meetings, and the person chairing that month will set the agenda. Membership on the committee is divided three/three and tie votes fail. After a bit of discussion members agreed with Boren's advice that if one of the regular appointees cannot make it for a meeting those who do attend can discuss issues and exchange information, but there will be no votes taken.

The Crivitz Development Committee had discussed possible ETZ regulations on Wednesday, March 27, with input and advice from Boren. Boren had outlines of possible components of an extra-territorial zoning ordinance and these were discussed one by one as the meeting progressed.

The Town of Stephenson currently has no zoning. A proposed zoning ordinance was soundly rejected by town voters in a referendum about two decades ago and has not been brought up since.

Agenda for the April 18 meeting included a general welcome, introduction of members, town to select the Town ETZ Chair, establishing rules for public input, review and discussion of possible ETZ Ordinance sections and future meetings outline, and - if time allowed, reviewing and discussing the three sections of the ordinance.

As proposed, Section 1 calls for laying out purpose and general provisions of the ordinance, Section 2 will be a map and legal description of the ETZ area, and Section 3 would set up various zoning districts.

As discussed at the March 27 meeting, zoning districts could be established to limit residential areas to allow only single family homes in some, multiple family in others, establish where businesses could and could not be located, limit the number of birds or animals owners could keep on properties in non-farm districts, etc. An informational brochure says the ordinance cannot limit the amount of fertilizer that could be used on a farm or lawn.

Materials for the meeting included a worksheet listing purpose and possible use districts within the ETZ area. On that sheet were:

Part 1: Through the implementation of a wellhead protection overlay zoning district, protect the Village of Crivitz Municipal wells to provide safe drinking water to people who drink water from the village water supply, including but not limited to residents, customers, employees, healthcare patients and students.

Part 2: Protect the safety of drinking water from private wells in the Town of Stephenson which are located in a proposed wellhead protection overlay district.

Part 3: Promote land use in the extraterritorial zoning area to benefit property owners in both the village and the affected area of the town.

Part 4: Address potential uses that may depreciate affected land values, tax base, and have a negative effect on landowners' use and enjoyment of their property both in the village and in (the affected area of) the town.

Part 5: Enact the least intrusive land use planing that would accomplish the above.

Part 6: All building construction would still require a building permit from the town of Stephenson. There also was provision for a possible Part 7: "Other."

A separate sheet with potential zoning districts, as discussed at the Village's Development Committee meeting, included wellhead protection; residential, possibly tiered, with residential districts 1, 2 and 3; Commercial/Retail, possibly also tiered; Agricultural, possibly regulated to provide for growing of crops, and perhaps allow dairy farms, cattle farms, chicken/turkey farms only as conditional uses; tree farming/forestry; public/private recreational; public buildings, facilities and land; conservancy, and industrial, which might be tiered as light or heavy, and possibly as conditional uses in heavy industrial zones, sand, gravel and mineral extraction and waste landfill. Existing farms, for example, would be "grandfathered," and could continue as they are. However, they might require a conditional use permit before allowing the property owner to increase the size of the farm or the number of animals that live on it.

Discussion at the start of the meeting was that they would like to keep the meetings to roughy an hour each, so there could not be too much time for public comment.

Padgett commented that speculative comments are counter-productive, and asked if they should just state facts, not opinions. "Is this the arena for them to share opinions with you, or should they do that individually, outside the meeting?" she asked. She said there is a lot of information on the social media.

"The reason for public input is to get opinions," Swanson declared.

Kudick agreed, but added if anyone has facts to share, that would be good too.

"Everybody deserves the right to be heard," Solway said.

Padgett asked if they wanted the comments recorded along with action parts of the meeting, or if she should just summarize. She said when people speak from the floor the recorder often does not get it clearly. Solway asked if they have a portable microphone, which would solve that problem. It was agreed if they do not have one they will get one.

It also was agreed in future, instead of meeting in the Village board room they will meet in the main hall,at a long table so everyone is facing the audience, and everyone can hear everything. The wall between the board room and the main hall had been opened for this meeting in view of the crowd present, but many in the outer room said they had trouble hearing the proceedings.

Ultimately, it was greed that members of the public can talk as different items come up, but their remarks should be limited to two to three minutes each and no more than about 20 minutes total public comment at each meeting. Persons wishing to speak cannot talk over one another and must be recognized by the chair and comments must pertain to the subject at hand. Feeling seemed to be that they did want to allow lot of questions from the floor.

Moving on to what the proposed ordinance might contain, Boren said the first section would spell out the proposed purpose and there already is a map. The purpose statement will drive the rest of the ordinance, he said, adding that if the main driving theory is to protect the drinking water they might need many other provisions.

However, Boren added, if they want to protect property owners from having their property values affected by incompatible uses, that too should be spelled out.

There was general agreement on the protection of drinking water for both public and private wells, but less about other restrictions that might be put on land use.

Boren suggested if, for example, a cabbage processing plant were to move into a neighborhood, that could protect property values.

It was repeated that Extraterritorial Zoning is not the same as annexation, and property owners in the ETZ District but outside the village limits will not be subject to any village ordinances except the Extraterritorial Zoning Ordinance itself.

"There are a couple of things in here that I would like to take back to our full board," Solway said. "Items 3 and 4 concern me," he declared. "These things may not have anything to do with drinking water, which is what we were told was the purpose of this," and he repeated, "This needs to be discussed by our whole board!"

"We don't want to dictate," Dorschner agreed.

Talk then turned to setting the time and date for the next meeting to be sure it comes after both the village and the town boards have a chance to meet. For convenience of the public it was decided it should be a set date, and that was then set for the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.

Grandaw asked if they would still meet if one member could not attend. Swanson wondered if the chair for the municipality could appoint a substitute or a proxy.

Boren felt that would not be a good idea, because there might be a critical vote on which the proxy would have no background. Without taking formal action, the committee then agreed that if even one member is absent they will not but can discuss issues and exchange ideas and information.

An informational brochure handed out at the meeting suggests getting more information at the Village Hall or on the village and town web sites as well as on wisconsin.gov/statutes. The zoning map, extraterritorial land use map overlay and the wellhead protection plan are available at the Village Hall.

The brochure notes that at least four members of the six person Joint ETZ Committee must vote in favor of the ordinance before it can pass, after which the Crivitz Village Board would approve the document as recommended by the committee after appropriate public hearings are held.

Again it is pointed out that the area would still be in the town.

Building permits would continue to be obtained from the town building inspector, but zoning permits or variances would be obtained from the village.

The brochure also says the village is seeking to create a "buffer zone" around its boundaries that would preserve the property values of landowners on its borders. It references the possibility of a factory, swine farm, etc., locating in the town next to an expensive residential home within the village boundaries..


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