County board rescinds support for Bug Tussel Wireless, hears CAFO report

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By Ted Pennekamp


At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Crawford County Board rescinded the action it took during its Aug. 18 meeting to support the Bug Tussel Wireless Broadband proposal to build several 5G communication towers in the county. Crawford County Attorney Mark Peterson said the board shouldn’t have voted on the proposal on Aug. 18 because the proposal was under the “Recognitions and Appearances” portion of the agenda rather than as an agenda item that can be acted upon.

Bug Tussel is a company headquartered in Green Bay that had proposed to build the towers in order to bring broadband internet to the unserved or underserved areas of the county.

Getting high-speed, broadband internet to the rural areas of Crawford County has been a concern of residents and businesses for many years.

The Sept. 16 Finance Committee Meeting had appearances by representatives of the Crawford County Communications Cooperative (3C Co-op). 3C Co-op is pursuing the possibility of burying fiber optic cable that would provide Fiber To The Home (FTTH), with minimum speeds of 25 Mgb download and 25 Mgb upload, and up to a one gigabit upload and a one gigabit download.

Dale Klemme of Community Development Alternatives addressed the committee regarding the Bug Tussel proposal that was presented at the August county board meeting. He asked that the county rescind the action that was taken to support the Bug Tussel proposal and instead appoint a committee to make a recommendation to the board in the next 90 days.

Emille Smith from 3C Co-op said they have been working three years to get fiber into the county. He said the county already has what Bug Tussel is offering. It depends upon how much someone wants to pay and the speed. He requested that the county reconsider their action pertaining to the Bug Tussel proposal.

In other business, the board heard a presentation about the CAFO Study Group Report. The purpose of the report is to provide scientifically defensible findings of fact. Scientifically defensible findings of fact are needed should the county decide to get approval from the Wisconsin DNR and/or the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in order to enact a more strict ordinance than the state’s livestock facility siting ordinance.

County Conservationist Dave Troester, Forest Jahnke of the Crawford Stewardship Project, and Community Development Educator Jessica Spayde presented different portions of the report which discussed agricultural vulnerabilities in Crawford County regarding CAFOs, natural resource vulnerabilities, karst and groundwater susceptibility, rainfall trends, economic vulnerabilities, community concerns, public health concerns, and regulatory gaps.

The report recommends further study of Crawford County regarding CAFOs. It also discusses possible county actions or opportunities for the county board to protect the sensitive ecology of the county’s water and other natural resources. 

Options included relying on current regulations, increasing conservation outreach and education, updating the livestock siting ordinance, enacting more stringent livestock siting standards, enacting operation ordinances, updating animal waste storage ordinances, enacting ordinances or rules outside of livestock facility siting, implementing county zoning, promoting large-scale livestock operations oversight at the township level, and funding groundwater and surface water studies.

If anyone in Crawford County should apply for a CAFO permit, the Land Conservation Committee would decide whether or not to approve of any such livestock facility permit application.

The Land Conservation Committee has not received any CAFO permit application.

During its September meeting, the Land Conservation Committee voted down a proposal to recommend a one-year extension of the CAFO  moratorium to the Crawford County Board.

On Dec. 17, 2019, the Crawford County Board voted 10-7 to enact a one-year moratorium. The Land Conservation Committee cannot act on a livestock facility permit application until the moratorium expires. The moratorium went into effect on Dec. 31, 2019.

In further business, the board:

•Amended an ordinance so that all county trunk highways are now ATV and UTV routes in their entirety.

•Heard a presentation by Couleecap Executive Director Hettie Brown. Brown said Couleecap has invested $8 million in its many programs for 2020, and serves 21,000 people in Crawford, LaCrosse, Monroe and Vernon counties. Brown also touted Couleecap’s COVID-19 Assistance and Resource programs.

•Heard that 29 employees of Crawford County have received personnel awards for 2020.

•Heard from Dave Troester that the Driftless Area Water Study (DAWS) begins on Monday, Oct. 26. DAWS involves 100 samples from wells in Crawford, Vernon and Richland counties. The results of the study will be known in four to six weeks, said Troester, who also noted that annual well sampling would cost about $6,000 per year for Crawford County.

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