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Too many people: Public hearing about digester project postponed by large crowd

Posted at 2:22 AM, Dec 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-05 09:51:03-05
  • A public hearing in the Township of Lind in Waupaca County was immediately adjourned and postponed Monday night because the crowd on hand was too large for the venue, the Lind Town Hall
  • The hearing was set to discuss the proposed construction of a digester — an operation that requires combines manure and waste to make renewable energy — on a Lind dairy farm
  • Most of those in attendance were opposed to the digester — holding signs and hats and raising concerns about what they believe will be the environmental impact of the project
  • Brooks Farms, the digester's potential future site, said the digester will improve the town's air quality
  • A date for the rescheduled public hearing has yet to be determined
  • Video shows the supporters and opponents voicing their opinions about the meeting postponement and digester project

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

On Monday evening, a public hearing about a digester project was supposed to held at this town center in Lind. But the meeting was immediately adjourned and postponed because too many people showed up. Over 100 tried to crowd into the building, but there was still a line of at least 20 yards outside.

The people of Lind were not surprised that they didn't fit into the town hall building.

"This is not a safe place to have such a large gathering," Cindy Cindric said.

"We have over 1,500 people that live in our township," Laurie Knutzen said, "and they showed up."

Of the hundreds that came, some brought hats and signs opposing the digester — a technology which combines waste and manure to make renewable energy.

The most contentious issue between supporters and opponents is what type of waste is being brought into Lind for the digester. Brooks Farm and Vanguard Renewables are behind the project and say they will not use industrial waste to make the renewable energy.

"Vanguard Renewables does not accept any high-risk material, such as municipal waste," said Sydney Howard, the assistant herd manager at Brooks Farm. "We only accept food waste and combine that with our farm's manure."

But most at the meeting opposed the project.

"The fact that this might happen and might push as back to the city is scary," Anna Kufahl said. "That's what made me come out tonight."

"We have concerns with industrial agriculture," Knutzen and Victoria Gehrke said.

Brooks Farm is adamant that the energy and fertilizer they plan to make is a positive for Lind, not a detriment.

"We live in this community too," Howard said.

Some at the meeting said they were glad it got pushed back, so there's more time to learn about the proposal.

"I just hope it doesn't go through," Kufahl said.

The date for the next public hearing about the digester has yet to be announced, but representatives from the Town of Lind say it will not be until at least January because they need to find a new and bigger venue.

NBC 26 was the first television station to report this story, and we will continue to follow this story as it develops.