The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday afternoon regarding a much-anticipated challenge to the state’s livestock siting law. The stakes are high since the Court’s decision is expected to establish a precedent as to how the state’s livestock facility permitting process interacts with local zoning authority. The law was designed to create uniform rules for siting livestock operations in the state and was enacted with bipartisan support.

The long-running legal battle has been brewing since Larson Acres dairy built a heifer barn in 2002 as part of the farm’s expansion.

Yesterday, Town of Magnolia attorney Glenn Reynolds argued that the case was about water quality and local government control, to which Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson — and several other Justices — asked a number of questions regarding where in the statute it allows the Town to regulate water quality.

Eric McLeod, attorney for Larson Acres, contends that the town has a number of other legal mechanisms to regulate water quality, but that the siting law is not the appropriate vehicle to do so. “Water quality regulations may not be enforced under the siting statute,” he argued. “They must be enforced outside of a siting permit.”

Watch the court proceedings here.

A decision is expected in a few months.

Download a news story from the Chicago Tribune.