By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE —Members of the congregation at St. John Lutheran Popple Creek are hoping to build a new church.
The Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee at the March 12 meeting recommended that the Dunn County Board approve a rezone from Exclusive Agriculture to A3 to allow a new church to be built.
Popple Creek Church, north of Colfax on county Highway W in the Town of Grant, was completely destroyed by fire following a natural gas explosion in mid-January.
The congregation plans to add an additional acre and a half to the existing site, for a total of three acres all together, said Dunn County Zoning Administrator Cleo Herrick.
A church is allowed in an exclusive agricultural zone, but because the additional acreage is less than 35 acres, a rezone to A3 is needed, she explained.
The church that burned down was almost on the Highway W right-of-way, and the new church would be set back farther from the road, Herrick said.
The zoning office has not received any telephone calls or written comments either for or against the proposed rezone, she said.
Bruce Winget, a member of the Grant Plan Commission, a member of the Grant Town Board, and president of the St. John Lutheran congregation, spoke to the PR&D committee about the rezone request.
Bob Walter, chair of the PR&D committee, wondered “which hat” Winget was wearing.
Winget laughed and said, “All three.”
The Grant Plan Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the town board approve the rezone, and the Grant Town Board voted unanimously to recommend county approval of the rezone, Winget said.
“The county is unhappy that you suffered a fire, but we are pleased you are shouldering the burden to rebuild,” Walter said.
Prior to the fire, people attending church at Popple Creek parked along the road.
The plans are to build the new church farther from the road with parking available next to the church, Winget said.
“We were lucky there were no accidents. This would be completely off the road,” he said, adding that the new building would be at least one hundred feet back from the road.
PR&D members wondered about the site of the old church, and Winget said the foundation would be buried.
Winget also noted that the cross on the old church had been given in memory of PR&D committee member Gary Bjork’s grandparents.
Bjork is a Dunn County Board supervisor from Colfax representing District No. 7.
The Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee unanimously approved forwarding the request to the Dunn County Board with the recommendation that the county board approve the rezone.
The request for a rezone is on the agenda for the county board’s March 20 meeting.