vegetable stand on Bridge Street in the town of
Cedarburg would like to incorporate a kitchen for
canning operations in its business plan.
Photos by Mark Justesen
CEDARBURG — Each growing season, local residents have
driven past their favorite grocery store and out into
the town of Cedarburg for fresh produce from Witte’s
Vegetable Farm. Though much of what Witte’s grows ends
up on local tables, in freezers and in jars, some of it
doesn’t, and that’s why fourth-generation farmer Scott
Witte found himself before the town of Cedarburg Plan
Commission requesting a conditional use permit.
“The whole idea
of installing a kitchen is to take products that aren’t No. 1 grade
or that are extra and do something with them,” he said. “We want to
be able to cut that bad spot out and still use that produce by
canning and freezing it.”
requesting a conditional use permit to process and can agricultural
products, bake and sell retail goods and operate a restaurant on the
vegetable farm located at 10006 Bridge St.
“As for the
restaurant, my sister and I wanted to say everything in our dreams,”
he said. “She’s thinking a farm-to-table dinner, maybe with a guest
chef a few times a year. We went above and beyond on the kitchen
idea for the guest chef. But really, what we want to do is
99-percent value-added vegetables.”
“As for the
baking, it would be my sister wanting to make rhubarb kuchen and
zucchini bread to sell from produce we’ve grown,” he said.
“The problem is
that baking doesn’t fit into one of our buckets the way our zoning
is written,” said Town Chairman Dave Salvaggio.
was before the Plan Commission because the proposed uses are not
allowed in agricultural zoning.
“What you are
requesting, the canning and processing, is allowed in a business
district,” Salvaggio said. “The issue is that if we make this text
amendment to allow this on your property, it will also be allowed on
all 274 agriculturally zoned properties in the town.”
noted that rezoning Witte’s parcel to business would also not be in
keeping with the town’s long-range plans, which would put a single
business parcel in the midst of agricultural zoning.
“The town spent
years putting that together,” said Plan Commissioner Edward Downey.
“We’ve really resisted this type of change, but we’re not opposed to
it. Times are changing, but the things we do set a precedent and
whatever we do we have to look at the long-range effect.”
“We get this
pretty regularly,” Salvaggio said. “People look at the town and they
see all this open land and what they could possibly do with it. But
really, in regards to the canning, are you somewhere between Grandma
and Del Monte? You have to decide.”
“How does the
Plan Commission feel about canning your own local produce?” asked
Tim Rhode. “If you do it, it does it for every operation in ag
zoning – if it’s good for the Wittes, then it’s good for the Polzins
and for the guy with the apple orchard …” “I don’t have a problem
with canning; the orchard down the road from me sells honey and
honey sticks,” said Plan Commissioner Rick Goeckner. “I don’t see it
being much of a difference. I think we should look at how other
local operations handle this, like Wellspring in the town of Trenton
and Riveredge in Saukville.”
that his family’s operation was only concerned with processing their
own produce for sale onsite or possibly at farmer’s markets. They
had no interest in becoming a commercial producer.
Commissioners decided to table the request, noting that they were
not necessarily opposed to supporting Witte’s plans, but were not
quite sure how to accommodate the request within the town’s existing