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Farmers concerned about proposed change in zoning in Village of Richfield, WI

June 15, 2022 – Richfield, WI – During June is Dairy Month the Village Board in Richfield is considering trying to do away with agriculture zoning by implementing a number of changes. The current ordinance codes date to 1978 and the Village Board is looking to shift A1 and A2 agriculture to RR1 and RR2 residential.
tractor, farming, zoning
A change in agricultural zoning is being proposed in the Village of Richfield, WI
There was a feedback forum held Tuesday night, June 7, 2022, that was standing room only. Below are notes from the meeting courtesy Robert Stuesser followed by some comments from those in attendance.
Village Administrator Jim Healy said, “Village Staff is recommending keeping things the same as they are today in our existing Code (A-1 & A-2).” He said, “We heard at the Agricultural Roundtable to keep everything “as is” and then form a subcommittee with our local agricultural community so that we can continue to have open lines of communication with them on this and any other matters related to the agricultural industry.”

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Village Board contact information below:
John JeffordsVillage President2023(262) 628-0385Email John Jeffords
Dan NeuTrustee2024(262) 628-0177Email Dan Neu
Tom WolffTrustee2023(414) 520-3566Email Tom Wolff
Bill CollinsTrustee2024(262) 628-4278Email Bill Collins
Don KriefallTrustee2023(414) 803-3488

Jim Healy – Village Administrator (262) 628-2260 ext. 115

Village Trustee Tom Wolff is one of five voting members on the Village Board. He said the board has been working on the rezoning proposal and an overall review of the ordinance book for the past three years. He said there have been about 50 meetings and mostly the Plan Commission has overseen the process.

Wolff said farmers really became aware of the proposed change in agricultural code during the roundtable meeting on June 7, 2022.
He said, because of the concerns of local farmers the item was tabled. “We have to look at everything,” said Wolff.
He noted one of the ordinances dealt with airstrips in Richfield. Another ordinance was on maximum building allowances based on square footage and acreage.
“That was different in the ag districts versus the rural residential,” said Wolff.  “I think a lot of farmers were concerned this would change their tax rates, but the tax rates will not be impacted whatsoever.”

Wolff has been a resident of Richfield 20 years. He said there’s been a lot of changes, but there’s also a reason why he moved out here.

“I wanted the country life, and I would certainly hope that’s the way people are looking at it right now,” he said. “Some of the other ordinance changes we’re looking to make, are trying to support the growing agritourism industry that’s popping up all over all over rural America.

 

“I think if the board does its job, we will make some minor alterations that will make the farmers happy and then we’ll get the ordinance book approved.”

DISCUSSION AND ACTION ITEM:
This zoning item will be on the agenda for the June 16 meeting, Lower level of the Richfield Village Hall 4128 Hubertus Road, Hubertus, WI 53033.
Village Administrator Jim Healy said they heard the farmers loud and clear at the June 7 roundtable. “The feedback we heard was fairly unanimous,” he said. “The clear majority of people want the zoning districts to stay as is.”

 

farming, plow
Ag zoning is a concern in the Village of Richfield, WI

Questioned if the Village Board would listen to the farmers concerns, Healy said, “That was the whole purpose of us having the meeting was to get their feedback to provide back to the village board.”

Village President John Jeffords was quoted in the notes from the public meeting saying, “the current atmosphere of the village, is different than it was when the current code was written.”

That statement was made as an explanation on why it’s necessary to move from an A1 and A2 to an R1 and R2.

Calls were placed to Jeffords for more insight and no calls were returned.

Healy was clear that the comments were made by Jeffords, he did add, “It’s safe to say we’re far more residential as a community than what we were in 1978 or 1983.

“I think that’s unequivocally a fair statement. You only have to look at the population projections. Going back to that point, are we a different community? You know, I don’t know that I would go that far and say we are a quote unquote, different community. We’re still very much tied to our rural agrarian past, and it is very much a part of the fabric of our community. We’ve got generations of farmers, who live in the Village of Richfield, who farm our lands, it’s quite literally why people came to Richfield is because of our rich fields.”

Healy continued and raved about the farming history and atmosphere. “Going through the rolling hills and the Kettle Moraine, seeing old farm buildings or farm buildings that are still being utilized or being repurposed is part of what makes Richfield unique. It is great to see some new life being breathed into these old buildings,” he said.

Obituary farming, Richard
Farmers in Richfield are concerned about proposed changes in ag zoning

From an agricultural standpoint, Healy estimated Richfield had about 24,000 acres and 5,000 to 6,000 of open land.

“You would be hard pressed to drive around the Village of Richfield and not see farms being worked on every street,” he said.

“I look out my office every day at a field that day and the owner is a part-time farmer works a regular job and does farming on the side. I think there’s lots of that and there’s lots of people who do hobby farming for their own personal enjoyment or for selling eggs or honey or what have you. So, if your question to me is do I think farming is a dying industry in Richfield? No, I don’t at all.”

Healy said the village did try to keep the community informed on the ordinance book review through its village webpage and monthly newsletter.

Healy has met with Jeffords and at Thursday’s meeting there is expected to be a briefing or staff report prior to the public comments. “So, people can understand we truly and honestly listened to the feedback and took their concerns to heart,” said Healy.

He said the village is expected to open lines of communication with the agricultural community and hopes to start a subcommittee where farmers and citizens can have the sort of ongoing discussion.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Click HERE to view the agenda.

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