Exclusive Agricultural Zoning (EAZ) is a type of zoning that a county or town enacts through ordinance to help support and preserve farmland within their local jurisdiction. Many local governments will soon choose to amend their EAZ ordinances to implement the Livestock Facility Siting Law. Amendments made to EAZ ordinances must often be certified by the Land and Water Conservation Board (LWCB) for compliance with the Farmland Preservation Law to ensure that farmers covered by the ordinance may claim farmland preservation tax credits. A local government may wish to:
amend the ordinance to conform existing standards for livestock facilities to obtain a conditional use permit to
comply with the Livestock Facility Siting Law,
amend the ordinance to establish new requirements for livestock facilities to obtain a conditional use permit, or
amend the ordinance to modify existing EAZ districts.
Depending upon the type of amendment to the ordinance, certification by the LWCB may not be necessary to implement the Livestock Facility Siting Law.
CONFORMING EXISTING CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT (CUP) STANDARDS
If a local government amends a certified EAZ ordinance for the sole purpose of conforming CUP standards to the Livestock Facility Siting Law, no LWCB certification is required. For example, a local government may make the following changes without triggering an LWCB certification requirement:
Changing the CUP threshold to 500 or more “animal units” as defined in the Livestock Facility Siting Law.
Incorporating uniform CUP standards from the Livestock Facility Siting Law (may incorporate by reference). A livestock facility that meets CUP standards under the Livestock Facility Siting Law also meets CUP standards under the Farmland Preservation Law (s. 91.75, Stats.).
Adopting state-mandated procedures for acting on CUP applications (may incorporate procedures mandated by the Livestock Facility Siting Law by reference).
Creating or modifying CUP application fees, consistent with the $1000 fee cap provided in the Livestock Facility Siting Law.
Making other CUP changes specifically authorized or required by the Livestock Facility Siting Law (the law allows some local CUP variations within narrowly prescribed limits).
AMENDMENTS TO ESTABLISH NEW CUP REQUIREMENTS.
If a local government amends a certified EAZ ordinance solely to create a new CUP requirement for livestock facilities (consistent with standards in the Livestock Facility Siting Law), no LWCB certification is required.
AMENDMENTS TO MODIFY EAZ DISTRICTS
Some local governments may wish to create multiple EAZ districts to manage the location and expansion of livestock facilities. For example, they may wish to limit livestock facilities in some EAZ districts (subject to restrictions under the Livestock Facility Siting Law), while encouraging them in others. This limitation may entail changes in EAZ district maps or ordinance text, or both. These are substantial ordinance changes that may require LWCB certification in order for farmers to claim tax credits under the amended ordinance.
Some local governments may retain existing EAZ districts, but add “overlays” to restrict livestock operations in some parts of an EAZ district (an “overlay” may add, but not take away, land use restrictions in an existing district). An “overlay” may or may not require LWCB certification under the Farmland Preservation Law, depending on the nature and scope of the “overlay.” However, the “overlay” must comply with the Livestock Facility Siting Law.
LWCB CERTIFICATION In order to be certified by the LWCB, an EAZ ordinance amendment (county, town or municipality) must be consistent with the county’s last certified agricultural preservation plan. If the proposed ordinance amendment is