My  sweet Mom, Helen Birkemeier, just got an early 80th birthday card from Sauk County Zoning Department – a "Citation/Notice of Court Appearance” for violating the ‘sawmill ordinance’.   

My Mom, the Violator!    
Wish her a Happy Birthday - your way!

This comes after the Planning and Zoning Committee voted unanimously – twice – the last two months to affirm that a forest owner can own and operate a sawmill and lumber dry kiln and sell lumber from their land.   The previous meeting they had voted unanimously to "Fix the sawmill ordinance."

This comes after I repeatedly had to read the ordinance to the department and committee that it is an approved use for a farm to produce forest products, sell farm products, produce & store & sell products – no permit needed!!  

I have provided testimony from Wis. Dept. of Agriculture and USDA that forest management and forest products are agriculture and a small sawmill is no different than a combine or tractor on a neighbor’s farm, though they are a lot quieter.   

           The WoodMizer sawmill at Timbergreen Farm works about one day in 10

This all began in January, 2008 when the Sauk County zoning staff wrote me a letter, saying they had read an article in the Wisconsin State Journal featuring our sawmill, and I needed a special exception permit.   The $500 permit fee and providing the necessary paperwork & plans and attending the meetings etc. would cost about $2000 total.  We have run our sawmill 21 years.  There are dozens of other small sawmills in the county without a permit - I am clearly being treated with selective enforcement because I'm visible trying to help others learn our successful business model.

Mom has never even touched the sawmill.....

I have refused to apply for a Special Exception Permit for our sawmill – the ordinance the department cites was clearly written for an ‘Agriculture-Related’ large commercial sawmill business – directly compared in the ordinance to an ‘agricultural implement dealer, a feed mill, a fertilizer mill’….     

Anyone who has visited Timbergreen Farm obviously recognizes that our operation is a family farm agricultural business, not a commercial sawmill business with multiple employees producing a hundred times the volume of our annual harvest.  (Sauk zoning staff has never visited here despite numerous invitations).   

            Timbergreen Farm is a peaceful, beautiful farm, not a commercial sawmill business

Since this ordinance was written 40 years ago, dozens of new types of small sawmills have been developed.  Small sawmills are no threat to public safety, they do offer a profitable alternative to big commercial timber harvesting - fulfilling the purpose of the RCD-35 zoning to perfection. 

                        Our current harvest is about one tree per 5 acres each year

I have refused to submit to their repeated threats of enforcement.  Now they are trying to Bully my Mom into paying their bogus permit fees or face their threatened fines!! 
Watch out, my Mom is pretty tough too!   

It would have been cheaper and easier for me to have just paid their permit fee a long time ago, but someone has to say STOP - the ordinances are way too complex, the department is too greedy for fees and fines, the staff is not making wise decisions, (add your reason here).    Join our stand against excessive government meddling and interference in our private lives and businesses.  Take a position against another unfair tax on small business, just when government is supposed to be encouraging small business. 

Please send a dollar or more to register your official vote to Mom’s Legal Defense Fund 
c/o Spring Green Timber Growers  PO Box 176 Spring Green, WI  53588
Or stop in our Timber Grower's store at 124 W. Jefferson St in downtown Spring Green.

All proceeds will go defend my Mom, and to promote common sense and wisdom in county zoning.  Please enclose a note with your thoughts too.    OR Email a message
Thank you for your support
Jim Birkemeier