Brandon Robinson of Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission, standing, explains the process of approving an updated Kewaunee County Comprehensive Plan to the Land & Water Conservation Committee on Tuesday, Dec. 13. Photo by Warren Bluhm

By Warren Bluhm/Kewaunee County Aggregator

The Kewaunee County Board is expected to approve an update to the county’s 20-year comprehensive plan when it meets Tuesday, Dec. 20.

The Land & Water Conservation Committee held a public hearing about the update on Tuesday morning, Dec. 13, then passed the resolution on to the full County Board with a handful of final revisions. The document, which was finished after a September open house, has been public since October.

Brandon Robinson of Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission, which drafted the required 10-year update, noted that it also incorporates an update of the county’s Farmland Preservation Plan.

“The biggest component of this is the mapping and the Farmland Preservation side of it,” Robinson said. “Without the update to the Farmland Preservation, those individuals receiving Farmland Preservation Tax Credits or who may be eligible would no longer be eligible. If this document was not completed, none of the towns would be able to allow building owners to get tax credits through Farmland Preservation.”

Passage of the document would also allow towns to update their zoning ordinances, he said. Five municipalities need their ordinances to be certified by the end of next year.

Four citizens spoke at the public hearing, all of them addressing ongoing water quality issues in the county.

“I see nothing about how we’re going to get out of this mess we’ve been in,” Joe Musiel said. “All our waterways are impaired, we have serious well problems … I notice in the summation of your report it says you’re working with the (Department of Natural Resources). Well, when is the DNR going to do any work?”

William Iwen questioned whether the 101-page document would actually have any impact.

“This is all nice and good, but it’s all advisory, so nothing is ever really enforced,” Iwen said. He recalled being on an ad hoc committee in the town of Pierce in 2000, “and that comprehensive plan’s been sitting on the shelf ever since, gathering dust. I think the same thing will happen here.”

Sue Weisser of the town of West Kewaunee noted that the original document’s goals include to “Identify the county’s agricultural resources and preserve contiguous areas of prime farmland to allow present and future generations the opportunity to farm.”

“However, it did not suggest more growth in industrial farming or increasing cattle populations,” Weisser said. “In fact, through most of the plan the goal was … to manage a clean, healthy, natural environment for the residents and the visitors of the county and to preserve and protect the key natural resources.”

The county’s largest challenge is ground and surface water contamination and needs to be actively pursued, Weisser said.

Supervisor Lee Luft said the plan generally does a good job of merging the Farmland Preservation Plan with the comprehensive plan, but he noted several state and federal programs are not on a list that could be tapped to help with the water quality issue, and he also pointed out that the plan does not mention the recently passed manure ordinance among measures the county has developed to ensure farmland and natural resources are preserved.

The ordinance limits winter and early-spring spreading of manure on fields that have shallow topsoil over karst bedrock.

The committee approved the resolution with the additions Luft requested. The County Board meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the county Administration Building, 810 Lincoln St., Kewaunee.