Appeals court blocks dairy farm from using land in Town of Saratoga

Published: Apr. 13, 2017 at 10:18 AM CDT
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A state appeals court has blocked plans for a large-scale farm in Wood County after ruling the farm doesn't have the right to 6,400 acres it wants for crops.

Golden Sands Dairy maintains it has agricultural rights to the land because the land was zoned unrestricted when the dairy filed for building permits in 2012 and the applications referenced the land. The Town of Saratoga argues the dairy has no right to the land because it was re-zoned for preservation four months after the applications were filed.

A judge sided with Golden Sands in 2015. But the 4th District Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that merely identifying property in a building permit application doesn't result in use rights.

"The court case, through the state appellate court isn't just a brick in the wall, this is a complete road block to the Wysocki organization. We couldn't be happier that it went in Saratoga's favor," explained Criste Greening, of Protect Wood Co. and Its Neighbors.

The ruling, should it stand, would greatly restrict Golden Sands Dairy's ability to spread manure on its land, said Paul Kent, special counsel for the town of Saratoga.

"What they would be able to do, is to build the barns and the dairy, but not spread the manure throughout the town. The town is obviously very pleased with that," Kent said.

The ruling has been a long time coming for residents like Sara Jane Snyder.

"I was sort of shocked. Then I had to look online and verify it, because I couldn't believe it," Snyder said.

It's also been a disappointment to the dairy.

In a statement to NewsChannel 7, Jim Wysocki, the Chief Financial Officer for the Wysocki Family of Companies, stated the ruling failed to properly apply the law of vested rights in Wisconsin.

"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," Wysocki said.

The dairy's attorney says he's considering appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Residents like Rhonda Carrell are ready to fight.

"We've become a family. We'll continue to fight all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to," Carrell said.