DC Board of Adjustment approves ag entertainment permit for GC farm
By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved a special exception for agricultural entertainment at a farm owned by Johns’ Creek LLC on county Highway X near Glenwood City.
William Underwood, co-owner of John’s Creek LLC, spoke about their plans for the farm at a public hearing held by the Board of Adjustment January 26.
The farm, known as Everwood Farmstead, will be used for artist events open to the public, such as music and theater, for art classes and artist retreats, and for weddings and corporate retreats.
The farm covers two parcels in the Town of Tiffany in Dunn County. The northern parcel contains 20 acres, and the second parcel covers 37 acres, Underwood said.
The 20-acre parcel has a 100-year-old barn that has been restored and also contains the main house with a guest suite, the original farmhouse that has been unoccupied for several decades, and an outhouse, he said.
The second parcel is comprised of woods, restored prairie and grassland. A total of 17.67 acres are tillable. That portion of the farm also contains trails, a half dozen cherry and apple trees, beehives and a flock of chickens to produce meat and eggs, Underwood said.
Since 2011, Paul Bartz has farmed the tillable acres, he noted.
Underwood and his spouse purchased the farm in 2010.
Underwood said that two years ago, he and his spouse began to host informal artist events in the barn, and “the response was overwhelming.”
The Everwood Farmstead Foundation was formed in 2014 as a non-profit organization with a nine-member board of directors, including Joan Bartz of Downing, to provide inspiring spaces for artists to teach and perform, and for an artist series of performances, workshops and retreats connected to agricultural components of the farm, Underwood said.
In the past year, the farm hosted four artist shows from May to October. Guests were asked to donate what they felt was an appropriate amount of money, and half of the money went to the artists and half of the money went to support local educational activities, he said.
In 2015, the Everwood Farmstead Foundation gave $3,100 to the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music, and since 2012, has donated $10,000 to schools in Boyceville, Knapp and Prairie Farm for art education, Underwood said.
The Everwood Foundation plans to begin holding artist retreats in 2017 that will provide professional artists with a space to work for one to eight weeks to finish their artistic pursuits, he said.
The artists will be encouraged to cultivate aspiring young artists and will be encouraged to visit local schools, Underwood said.
The Everwood Foundation, which leases the farm from John’s Creek LLC, will rely on funding from revenue generated by the John’s Creek special exception for agricultural entertainment from weddings and corporate retreats, he said.
The activities at the farm will be designed to connect artists with the local community, Underwood said.
The Everwood Farmstead will be planning to hold ten to 12 artist events from May through October and another ten to 12 commercial events during the same season, he said.
Underwood noted that he and his spouse are employed full time and that the farm was purchased as a retreat for them.
Everwood Farmstead Foundation Board of Directors member Joan Bartz addressed the Board of Adjustment in support of the special exception.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” she said, adding that the enterprise supports the arts, shares the agricultural area of West Central Wisconsin with people coming from the Twin Cities Metro, and has provided wonderful productions of music, dance and theater.
Juliet Fox, chair of the BOA, noted that the Board of Adjustment had received e-mail messages in support of the special exception from more than a half dozen neighbors in the area.
The agricultural entertainment special exception impacts economic development in Dunn County, said Steve Rasmussen of Boyceville and chair of the Dunn County Board.
The next generation has tended to move away from Dunn County, and the area has a challenge to attract them to stay, he said.
Millennials are concerned about quality of life and will select a location that fits in with their desire for a good quality of life, Rasmussen said.
Ag entertainment contributes to quality of life and is one activity that will help attract Millennials, Rasmussen said.
“I think it’s a real positive addition to our county,” he said
Rasmussen noted that the route to John’s Creek LLC is all on state and county roads in response to concerns Fox had expressed about people being able to find the farm.
“It’s a nice complement to the Mabel Tainter (with) … events in an agricultural setting,” said Phil Steans, BOA member.
The Dunn County Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the special exception for agricultural entertainment for John’s Creek LLC with the following conditions:
• Construction of a second outhouse that has been approved as per county and state regulations to allow up to 150 people to attend an event. Regulations require one toilet facility for every 75 people. If an event has more than 150 people, portable toilets must be rented to accommodate the increased number of people.
• No more than 225 people will be allowed to attend a single event. The Board of Adjustment has capped attendance for agricultural entertainment special exceptions at 225 for other venues and wants to keep the number consistent.
• Events can scheduled from 8 a.m. to midnight. If there is a wedding, for example, the music must stop at midnight.
• The allowable noise level from events will be 60 decibels at the property line to keep consistent with conditions set for other agricultural entertainment special exceptions granted in Dunn County.
• John’s Creek LLC will be required to file an event plan with the county 30 days prior for any event at which more than 50 people are expected to attend.
• For any event that will have more than 50 people, John’s Creek is required to notify the neighbors at least 30 days in advance. John’s Creek LLC can send out a schedule of events to neighbors at the beginning of the season to fulfill the requirement.
• Events will be limited to three per month with no overnight camping and only a licensed bartender can serve alcohol. Underwood said John’s Creek LLC would require a caterer to serve food and alcohol at events such as weddings and that the caterer would be responsible for providing the licensed bartender.
• A temporary use permit is required to be renewed annually 30 days prior to the first event. John’s Creek LLC can apply for the temporary use permit at the Dunn County zoning office.
• Lighting at the farm must be consistent with zoning staff recommendations, such as being shielded downward.
A special exception permit is permanent as long the applicant continues to follow all of the conditions set by the Board of Adjustment.
The Dunn County Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the special exception for John’s Creek LLC. In addition to Fox as the chair and Steans as a member of the BOA, Mike Kneer, Tim Lienau and Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt serve on the Dunn County Zoning Board of Adjustment.