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Appellate Court Rules Against Golden Sands Mega Dairy Farm

Dairy Owners Might Appeal To State Supreme Court


The 4th District Court of Appeals has handed a significant setback to the proposed Golden Sands mega-dairy farm in the Wood County Town of Saratoga.

The owners of the dairy might appeal the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The appeals court ruled that although the dairy has the right to put buildings on its land, it doesn’t have the right to use 6,300 acres away from the building site for agriculture and manure spreading.

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“We reject the arguments Golden Sands makes to support its claim of vested rights in agricultural use of all land identified in its building application,” said the court.

Paul Kent, an attorney for the Town of Saratoga, said the court was right to reverse an earlier circuit court decision.

“Way back in 2012 the town enacted a zoning ordinance that limited agricultural practices to protect groundwater, and this decision really allows that zoning ordinance to be in effect for the areas that the dairy had proposed to spread its liquid manure,” said Kent.

Kent said because of the region’s sandy soil, the proposed manure spreading could threaten drinking water for about 500 homes in the region.

“When you apply concentrated nutrients in those kinds of sandy soils, they migrate very quickly down gradient,” he said. “We really had a concern that these shallow wells could be adversely impacted.”

Jim Wysocki, chief financial officer for the Wysocki Family of Companies and Golden Sands, blasted the decision in a written statement, saying the court had changed the rules in the middle of what has been a four hand a half year process, before the DNR completed its environmental review.

“This decision and its underlying rationale threatens to up-end business investment in this state, because if it stands, businesses may not be able to rely on the rules in place at the time they invest in growth and jobs,” said Wysocki. “Justice this slow is not justice.”

Rhonda Carrell, founder of the citizens group Protect Wood County and its Neighbors, said members of the group want to sit down with Wysocki to discuss a path forward.

“We all need water,” she said. “We need to share it. Let’s find a way to resolve this.”

Wysocki said Golden Sands is exploring all options, including “seeking review of the decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”