WisBusiness: Sparta ethanol plant to get public hearing

By Gregg Hoffmann


Sparta – The Sparta City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Monday on a conditional-use permit and rezoning for a controversial proposed ethanol plant.

No vote will be taken by the Commission after the hearing, which starts at 5 p.m.

Mayor John Sund Jr. favors holding an advisory referendum on the ethanol plant before the city acts on the conditional-use permit and rezoning. The City Council could vote Tuesday whether to hold a referendum, which likely would be held Nov. 6.

Controversy over the location of the ethanol plant, to be built by Coulee Area Renewable Energy LLC (CARE), has gone on for months.

Officials of Century Foods International, the largest employer in Sparta, have opposed the location of the plant because they fear emissions could taint their milk products.

The Friends of Sparta organization filed a petition in August with 787 signatures seeking an advisory referendum before any decisions are made. City Attorney Richard Heitman has said such an ordinance could go against state law.

If the Council votes next Tuesday for the referendum, votes on rezoning and a commission vote on a conditional-use permit could come in November, The conditional-use permit doesn’t require council approval.