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St. Croix County digester, animal shelter up for approval

The effort to construct an animal shelter near Roberts reaches a pivotal stage this week when it and several other projects go before a key St. Croix County committee.

The St. Croix County Board of Adjustment will consider the 6.5-acre St. Croix Animal Friends facility one day after the panel reconsiders a $55 million manure digester project on Thursday at the Government Center.

The digester issue is expected to take up the board's entire day on Thursday, April 25. The agenda calls for a public hearing on the project before board members conduct a site visit. The board will consider approval of the project later that day or on Friday.

Proponents of the Western Wisconsin Biogas and Nutrient Recovery Project in January framed their plans as a boon to the regional agriculture industry. Neighbors of the proposed facility largely panned the project, raising questions about the odor coming from the turkey manure being trucked in.

The board tabled the issue in January to give project officials time to address questions about odor management, along with concerns about noise levels and decommissioning cost assurances. Those issues are expected to be addressed Thursday.

The St. Croix Animal Friends project is one of four items on the board's Friday agenda, which includes an indoor mobile shooting range in rural Somerset and two other projects.

According to its website, St. Croix Animal Friends purchased the 638 Highway 65 facility in 2010 — five years after the nonprofit organization launched.

The facility would be for unwanted dogs and cats that will be put up for adoption.

Plans call for a maximum of 60 dogs and 75 cats at the facility, which includes plans for a future community education center.

Officials said the surrounding topography, along with interior sound-mitigating insulation, represent the facility's soundproofing measures.

The request seeks a variance for the 300-foot setback requirement for commercial kennels; the variance seeks to allow commercial setback limits. The permit application states the surrounding properties are industrial and agricultural.

The applicants told the county the kennel's outdoor enclosure and exercise area would be limited to daylight hours; no more than two adult dogs would go outside at a time.

The board will also consider a request from Kelly Yule to install an indoor mobile shooting range at his 1584 32nd St. business in the town of Somerset.

The business, Blind Squirrel Gun Shop, would add a 53-foot semi-trailer retrofitted to create an indoor shooting range inside it. The range would consist of three shooting lanes for customers, according to the application.

The application says the trailer — built of bulletproof steel and 2-inch acoustic-dampening ballistic rubber — would be available to be hauled to event or police departments for training. The mobile range would be manufactured by New Hope, Minn.-based Range Systems Inc., a firm described in county documents as "one of the biggest shooting range manufacturers in the U.S."

Auditory testing in March from 10 feet outside the range recorded 103 decibels from 9mm gun. A .308 rifle recorded 113 decibels from the same distance. Application materials state a hand-clap generates about 120 decibels.

County staff recommended approval of all projects on Thursday's and Friday's agenda, which also includes a request from Trierweiler Construction Co. for a temporary concrete batch plant in the town of Pleasant Valley. That project is proposed to assist Interstate 94 construction work over the next two years.

Tammec LLC is also seeking renewal of a permit for non-metallic mining at 1170 County Road G.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

(651) 301-7867