Plan for goat farm creamery riles rural Port residents

Concerns range from odors to aesthetics but official says agricultural operations are part of life in township

A goat farm owed by Lake Road Properties on Lake Drive in the Town of Port Washington would be home to a creamery like the one shown in the rendering, according to plans submitted to the town Plan Commission. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

A plan to create a creamery on a goat farm in the Town of Port Washington is proving to be controversial, with residents of a nearby subdivision voicing concerns about everything from the potential increase in traffic and noise to aesthetics and odors.

The proposed 9,200-square-foot Blakesville Creamery at 820 Lake Dr. would use milk primarily produced at the existing goat farm there to create goat cheese. No retail sales would occur at the property.

Town officials said they had been contacted by area residents about the issue, and several people approached officials after Monday’s Town Board meeting to bring up the matter.  

“Have you lived near a cheese factory? It’s a stinky, nasty thing,” one woman asked, while a man expressed concern about the potential impact on area property values.

Supervisors Gary Schlenvogt and Mike Didier said they had each received a call from a concerned constituent who indicated that many neighbors in the Bluff View Estates subdivision are worried about the plan, while Town Clerk Heather Krueger said two people had stopped in with questions or concerns.  

Schlenvogt said one resident equated the creamery to a growing, intense business operating next to a residential subdivision, adding that the neighbors are upset about the plan.

“I’m sure there will be a full house next Wednesday (when a public hearing on a conditional use permit for the creamery is held at 7 p.m.),” Schlenvogt said.

Didier said he was told the neighbors are concerned about an array of potential issues.

“I was kind of surprised,” he said. “They built in an area surrounded by ag(ricultural uses).”

But, he added, “They had questions I didn’t think of.”

Didier noted that the creamery is proposed to be built in the town’s agricultural district. While the goat farm is permitted by right, the creamery is permitted with a conditional use permit.

Because it’s a permitted use, he said, the town can’t reject it.

“We can’t stop it, but we can condition it,” Didier said. “We can’t condition it to the point they can’t operate it.”

Theoretically, he noted, the farm “could bring in 2,000 head of cows and they wouldn’t have to get permission.”

Didier said he looks at the creamery as an extension of the existing dairy operation — a dairy is defined as a place that produces milk while a creamery is a place where milk is turned into other products, such as cheese, butter or soap. 

The creamery may not significantly affect neighboring property values, Didier, who is a real estate agent, added. 

Plans for the proposed Blakesville Creamery — so named because the area was once named Blakesville — were initially presented to the Plan Commission last month.

The existing farm has about 1,000 goats and their milk is currently trucked off the site and sold. Under the proposal, the milk would be converted to cheese at the farm.

“It’s very high quality (milk),” said Juli Kaufmann of Afterglow Dairy Farm, which will be renamed Blakesville Dairy Farm when the creamery is approved. “It will make excellent cheese.”

  The creamery is a way to ensure the farm is a viable operation, she said in an interview.

“That’s where the value’s added, when you make the cheese,” she said. “We hope this will help retain a viable farm here.”

The farm, she noted, used to be Lake Breeze Dairy Farm owned by the Karrels family. 

“We were really interested in maintaining the dairy,” Kaufmann said, although with goats, not cows.

Dave Uttech, project manager with Keller Planners, Architects and Builders, told the Plan Commission that the creamery would replace an existing barn on the property.

The creamery would be shielded from the road, Kaufmann said.

While the creamery would use milk from the farm’s goats, Uttech said, at some point in the future it may bring in sheep or cow’s milk to blend in its goat cheese.

The creamery is expected to have three to four employees in its first year, five to eight in its second year and as many as 12 workers in subsequent years, according to documents presented to the Plan Commission.

It is also projected to have one or two deliveries or product pickups a day in the first year and two or three a day after that, the documents state.

Kaufmann said in an interview that the number of vehicles would be comparable to today, but instead of the tanker trucks that currently take milk from the farm, they would be smaller box truck-type vehicles.

There shouldn’t be any more noise than there is now, she added, or any more odor.

“The farm itself generates some odors, as it did historically,” she said. “But it’s markedly less odorous going from cows to goats.”

The whey that’s produced will be trucked out, she said, not spread on fields.

And, she said, the operation won’t significantly increase water consumption, adding the water that’s used in the creamery will largely be used for cleanup.

“We’re very committed to environmental sustainability,” Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann said there are no plans to add more goats to the farm, which is owned by Lake Road Properties.

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