County board unveils Resch Expo, turns back proposed Clean Energy Commission
By Charles Collier
ASHWAUBENON – The Brown County board helped christen Resch Expo Wednesday, Jan. 20, holding its monthly meeting as the first official event hosted in the new complex.
“Driving down Lombardi tonight to get here, I think we all were really able to grasp how this puts us on the map,” said Troy Streckenbach, county executive.
Resch Expo is being funded in part by revenues from the county’s half-percent sales tax, which was approved in 2017 by all but three of 26 supervisors.
“As a government body, we really, truly have a lot to be proud of,” Streckenbach said, “We did it – and this is a presentation of the community coming together. You should be truly proud of this, because it is an example that when we come together we can get some really good things done.”
The message was well received by supervisors, as was Streckenbach’s announcement county debt obligations being the lowest since the 1990s.
Streckenbach’s praise of board action, proactivity and cooperation with the private sector may well have given hope to the contingent of supervisors seeking to pass a resolution creating a Clean Energy Commission, but the plan was referred back to committee following debate which consumed nearly half of the evening’s business.
The Clean Energy Commission effort was first introduced in July and sent to the Planning, Development and Transportation Committee.
It has been the work primarily of Supervisors Amanda Chu, Tom Friberg and Thomas Lund.
During the public comment period of the meeting, Casey Hicks, a lobbyist for Conservation Voters of Wisconsin, encouraged unanimous passage, as well as a handful of amendments to the resolution’s language.
The resolution would create a sub-committee of two supervisors and five county residents tasked with establishing baselines and five-year goals for adopting renewable energy sources to inform a countywide clean energy policy.
Among the most contested pieces of the proposal were designations of fossil fuels as “dirty energy,” including natural gas as a “clean energy,” and an amendment proposed by Supervisor Ray Suennen to reduce wind turbines siting from one mile to 1,500 feet away from residential structures.
Corporate Counsel David Emery said the proposed body’s structure required broad changes to be consistent with county ordinances.
That point influenced the eventual 25-1 vote to refer the resolution back to committee, though supervisors briefly argued for a floor vote to advance the issue and avoid further stagnation.
The proposal had been referred back to committee three times prior.
Supervisor Richard Schadewald said initiatives of such significance and scope benefit from extended legislation, saying creating sub-committees specifically, “requires a lot of work.”
“There are so many things you have to figure out that you would have no way of knowing before getting into it,” Schadewald said. “This is just part of the process. It took me six months to get the rural broadband committee. There’s certain committees you need time to process and I think this is one of them.”
The measure’s proponents were not deterred, ensuring work would continue and inviting participation from its detractors to try and resolve concerns before bringing a revised resolution back to the full board.
“I know that we’re in it for the long haul and I’m all for this going back, because it is worth the work and discussion to make it happen,” Chu said. “I hope we continue to have endurance to have this conversation.”