Senators Examine Controversial Land

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State Senators Dave Zien and Dale Schultz got up close and personal with the plot of land that's the center of a looming controversy: economic development versus the environment.

Both the debate and waiting through it have set off Senator Schultz.

"All you have to do is look out at this field to realize the insanity of this."

Menards officials say they've offered the DNR a two-for-one deal, where they'll build up twice as much acreage in wetlands as they build on.

"We are not talking about a high quality wetland or a large wetland," said Menards Spokesperson Dawn Sands.

"It has some wet soil, but so does your lawn, for heavens sake, half the time," Senator Schultz said.

According to the DNR, half the time makes it a transitory wetland: a place migratory birds depend on at certain times. At this point in time, they're not even ready to discuss the quality issue.

The process for this kind of thing is three stages long as far as they're concerned: proposing a number of alternatives to avoid wetlands, then trying to minimize the impact, and finally, mitigation.

"We need to get back to step one with them, we've talked with their consultant, they understand that," said West Central DNR Director Scott Humrickhouse.

Besides that, DNR officials say they've sent a pair of letters to Menards since a February summit in Madison, but never saw a two-for-one proposal.

"We're ready to sit down and work with them through the approval process," Humrickhouse said.

Meanwhile, Menards officials are hoping for a quick fix with Schultz's help.

"Whether we'll be able to come to a resolution and build this season, it's looking dim," Sands said.

"If we don't get a decsision soon, we're going to miss this construction season and that is unacceptable," said Schultz. He hopes the DNR Secretary and Menards will come to a comprimise after he tells them the same things he said in the disputed field.