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Hobby farm approved along Milltown Road in Howard

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – A conditional use permit (CUP) to have a hobby farm, including cattle, pigs, goats and/or sheep at 4229 Milltown Road was approved Monday, April 26, by the village board.

The permit requested by Whitney Barnes, an agriculture teacher at Bay Port High School, and her husband, Chris Liermann, includes the following conditions:

• There shall be no set time limit on the conditional use.

• The type of animals will be of the applicants’ choosing with the number based on the animal equivalency factors outlined in the application.

• Animal-appropriate fencing/screening will be installed as a buffer to adjacent properties.

Community Development Director Dave Wiese said a CUP was required because the hobby farm will be an agricultural use on residential property previously zoned agricultural.

“The applicant came before the Plan Commission and discussed how they would be expanding the kind of the farm that’s there already,” he said. “It’s not in use, but it has been kind of an active farm over a number of years ago. They’re looking at buying the property and turning it into their own little hobby farm.”

Wiese said the number of animals allowed is based on an animal equivalency factor, in which the number of animal units is limited by the number of acres, 3.517.

One example of the limit of animals included in the application is having eight market pigs, which are .4 of a unit apiece, and three sheep, .1 of a unit each, for a total of 3.5 animal units.

Barnes said she and her husband want to use the hobby farm to have students learn about animals.

“Our hope is that we can kind of change up those species, based upon student interest or our own children’s interest, and throughout the years,” she said. “It would be a very limited amount of animals.”

Barnes said the animal equivalency factor is based on recommended values for animal units from the University of Wisconsin Extension and good agricultural farming practices.

“We think it’s very important to manage land properly and efficiently and make things look good,” she said.

Barnes said the facilities and fencing needed would be adjusted based on the type of animals kept at the hobby farm.

“We’d like to be able to have that (CUP) for as long as we maintain the property,” she said.

Village President Burt McIntyre said he believes the possible odor from animal waste will be a “minimal issue,” given the small number of animals allowed.

Barnes said the hobby farm will manage manure properly and use rotational grazing for animals.

McIntyre said he expects the hobby farm will be an attraction to a lot of people moving to the area.

“I think it’s a great thing,” he said.

Other board members said they liked the idea of a hobby farm.

“I applaud your thinking and, I’ll just say, the recycling of things, and how it can go back into the earth, which it should,” said Trustee Cathy Hughes.

Trustee Craig McAllister said it’s great he will be a neighbor of the hobby farm.

“I think the Village of Howard should do more to protect agriculture and farmland as it’s being lost at such a drastic rate,” he said.

New Leaf Prep Academy

The board also approved a CUP request from Paige and Matthew Christoff to locate a charter school for 4K through eighth-grade students in an existing building at 360 AMS Court.

Paige Christoff told the Plan Commission, which a week earlier unanimously recommended the permit, the school known as New Leaf Prep Academy would have up to 150 students in its first year of operation and be another school option for students.

“It gives residents in the Howard-Suamico area a chance at a different type of learning environment for their students,” she said. “No one is put into our school. They’re all choosing our school.”

The project plans call for remodeling the building’s interior to suit a school, as well as painting the brick and roof to match the interior colors.

The driveway/parking lot area will also be resurfaced as part of the plans, with a fence installed in the back of the property on the Riverside Drive side.

Future plans call for expanding the school by putting up an addition on the south side of the property, at which time the Christoffs would apply for a permit.

A statement by Vanessa Moran, a Howard-Suamico school board member, was read into the record in support of granting a permit for the school.

“The need for this type of education in our community was demonstrated through a petition that obtained over 800 signatures, as well as their preliminary enrollment numbers with many grade levels already having waiting lists,” Moran’s statement read.

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