DNR Officials React, Lawmakers Propose Summit

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DNR officials in Eau Claire said, frankly, they have no idea what exactly Menards is complaining about, and what DNR "unwilligness" led the company to decide to move a plant out of Eau Claire.

They said they were working with Menards on different proposals, and stand willing to work with them again, even after being broadsided by Friday's announcement.

DNR Spokesman Dave Weitz said Menards had applied for a permit to build a seasonal storage warehouse on adjoining land their spokesperson says they wanted a store fixture plant on.

DNR officials say they applied in July, but because the request involved grading and filling a wetland, they asked Menards to work with them on alternatives, like re-configuring the proposal.

Instead, they said Menards never contacted them again.. and withdrew the application in december.

Weitz said they haven't heard from Menards since.

"I was surprised," he said. "I went around and asked if there were any outstanding permit applications, and there aren't any."

Meanwhile, local lawmakers are proposing what they call an urgent "Menards Reaction Summit" in Madison on February 24th. They say they'll bring in the governor with DNR and Menards officials to hash out some kind of compromise.

"Under the budget constraints that we're under right now, sometimes it's a little difficult to get people to come further out of madison, so Madison may be our only alternative, " Representative Terry Moulton said.

On Friday, Menards announced they're moving a store fixture plant and nearly 100 jobs to Central Minnesota.

A company spokesperson blames the DNR's unwillingness to permit them to expand, but Weitz says they are a public agency, and are willing to talk things through with Menards or anyone else.