Douglas County is considering a zoning change that would allow Long Lake Outfitters to utilize 40 additional acres of land for a deer hunting preserve in South Range.
A moratorium to prohibit bringing live deer or other cervids into Douglas County has no bearing on the zoning change, said Keith Wiley, zoning coordinator.
“What they’re actually doing is expanding their operation; we’re adding 40 more acres onto it,” Supervisor Nick Baker said.
“Currently, it is enrolled in our hunting preserve,” said Cade Musch, one of the owners of Long Lake Outfitters. “It’s been permitted by the state … there’s no animals there because we’re not zoned Ag-1 yet. But it’s another 40 of ours that’s adjacent to the rest of our farm, a continuous piece of land. That’s what we want to utilize it for, the hunting preserve.”
The moratorium does not apply to cervids that have been brought into Douglas County prior to the adoption of this ordinance, Wiley said. He said the committee could approve the zoning change; any license requirements or ordinance amendments developed by the study group would still apply to the property.
The year-long moratorium was put in place in by ordinance in November to give a study group time to determine how to best regulate deer farms and hunting preserves to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease to Douglas County.
The study group is leaning toward developing a new agricultural zoning category that would place certain requirements on deer farm or hunting preserve owners such as having a depopulation plan in the event chronic wasting disease is discovered.
Wiley said that moratorium would prevent Long Lake Outfitters from bringing additional animals to its deer farm and hunting preserve on Najt Road. He said any license requirements or ordinance amendments would still apply to their property.
Jay Petite owns property adjacent to the parcel that could be rezoned and said he, family and neighbors have concerns about the safety of having a hunting preserve in the area because they are not subject to the same regulations hunters would be under when utilizing private or public lands.
“There’s no hunters safety required so they’re going to be shooting high-powered rifles near homes, roads, children in the area,” Petite said. “I guess approving this zoning change would basically allow them to expand their deer farm, hunting preserve even as the moratorium is in effect.”
Petite said a big concern is chronic wasting disease. He said a couple branches of the little Amnicon run from the deer farm property onto his, and on to Lake Superior.
Wiley said that moratorium would only prevent Long Lake Outfitters from bringing additional animals to its deer farm and hunting preserve on Najt Road.
Current zoning for the 40-acre parcel is forestry.
“There are adjacent agricultural zones and the rest of their property is also zoned A1,” Wiley said.
“We have received approval from the town,” Zoning Committee chairwoman Mary Lou Bergman said.
“For us to deny this, we would have to have some basis,” Supervisor Charlie Glazman said. “Does that exist?”
Bergman said the issue before the committee was strictly related to zoning, and the county would bear the burden of proof if a denial was appealed.
The committee split 4-1 by voice vote to approve the zoning change.
Baker objected to the change, which will beconsidered when the Board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20, in Room 201 of the Government Center.