by Emmitt B. Feldner
for The Beacon
SHEBOYGAN – There will be a hometown discount for local entities seeking to buy wetland mitigation credits in the Amsterdam Dunes Preservation Area.
The County Board Tuesday approved a credit sale policy for the Amsterdam Dunes wetland mitigation bank.
The policy includes a provision for lower prices for sales to Sheboygan County industries, developments or units of government.
In a fiscal note provided with the resolution, county Finance Director Wendy Charnon said the current selling price for credits is $99,000 per acre.
The county has been approved to create 31.76 acres of new wetlands in the dunes area.
That means the county has a potential of $3,144,240 in credit sales.
Charnon estimated that the discounts established in the policy could amount to as much as $786,060.
The county can sell credits for the new wetland acreage to developers or government units which request to fill in existing wetland acreage for projects.
Credits must be purchased in a ratio of 1.5 acres for every acre of wetland filled in for a project or development.
Local governments and school districts would receive a discount of 30 percent on any credits they purchase from the county.
The discount would be 20 percent for any “private entity with ownership and a primary place of doing business in Sheboygan County,” according to the resolution.
For “a private employment entity or establishing operations in Sheboygan County,” the discount will be 10 percent.
The approved policy also sets a goal of selling credits evenly between public and private buyers, if possible.
It also calls for sales to purchasers within the county to take precedence over those outside the county, with “preference to projects that have significant impact on (county) residents.”
The county will require that any projects for which it sells credits must be built or close to completion within three years of the credit sale.
The policy also calls for county officials to consult regularly with other mitigation bank owners to determine current credit market rates.
“The Planning and Resources Department and (director) Aaron Brault did a great job of organizing,” the credit sales policy, Supervisor Henry Nelson commented. “We’ll get our best deal when we do our sales of mitigation credits.”
The board also approved filing an easement setting aside the 31.76 acres for wetland creation in order to obtain a $400,000 grant for the work from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources In-Lieu Fee Wetland Conservation Trust program.
The county purchased the pristine 333-acre Amsterdam Dunes parcel on the shores of Lake Michigan for $4.2 million in 2014 with the goal of preserving it as one of the last stretches of undeveloped lakefront land in the state.
Through grants, private donations, land sales and other means, the county has recouped the entire cost of the original purchase.
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The board approved the appointment of Christian Ellis to the vacant 18th District seat, representing parts of the city and town of Sheboygan Falls.
“We interviewed three people (for the vacancy) who were all well involved in the community,” County Board Chair Vernon Koch told the supervisors.
Supervisor Brian Smith voted against the appointment after commenting that he would like to see the resumes of all applicants for any future board vacancy appointments before voting to approve them.
Koch assured the supervisors that Ellis would not be listed as an incumbent on the ballot for the April 5 general election, according to County Clerk Jon Dolson.