Despite five years of court cases and opposition from the town of Saratoga, Wis., Golden Sands Dairy, LLC was granted the right to purchase 6,388 acres of adjacent land to expand their operation on Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of the dairy despite town zoning ordinances preventing the use of land for agricultural purposes. This now allows the Wysocki family to expand their operation to 5,300 cows.
Proposing to originally build a 3,500-cow dairy in the summer of 2012, the family wanted to make sure their plans were known to the public. Town residents were immediately concerned with the announcement and went to the Town Board to ratify a zoning plan preventing agricultural use of the land.
The Wysocki family sued to have a judge order town officials to issue the required building permits . The town rallied against the project and explained how the building permits would still not allow the family to farm the land.
At the time of the application the land was zoned as unrestricted, meaning it could be used for any lawful purpose. The town re-zoned the land shortly after the initial permit application was submitted in a way that prohibited Golden Sands’ planned agricultural use.
The case eventually made its way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court where it was overturned Tuesday, giving the Wysocki family the right to farm the land. Saratoga residents, however, are still up in arms. Their concerns revolve around potential pollution levels and the impact on the area’s drinking water.
Before moving forward with expansion of their operation, the Wysocki family will have to complete requirements from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permitting process and meet the needs of the livestock ordinance approved by the town.
The dairy will begin working on some farmland aspects of the project this year by clearing more land and putting some of the land into crop production.