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Farm's public pizza nights prompt neighbors to petition for changes in Wisconsin

PRESCOTT, Wis. - Borner Farm Project's Friday pizza nights are a hit with customers, but apparently not so much with the farm's neighbors. A working farm in the heart of Prescott (1266 Walnut St.) that specializes in growing organic produce, sold...

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PRESCOTT, Wis. - Borner Farm Project’s Friday pizza nights are a hit with customers, but apparently not so much with the farm’s neighbors.

A working farm in the heart of Prescott (1266 Walnut St.) that specializes in growing organic produce, sold onsite or through a CSA, Borner staff take orders for wood-fired pizzas using homegrown ingredients 5-8 p.m. every other Friday May through October. People are invited to relax on the grounds, using their own picnicware and chairs.

Resident Bill Hartman (1369 Walnut St.) told Prescott City Council members June 27 that neighbors are battling traffic and parking congestion in the neighborhood due to the pizza nights.

Ten to 20 cars turn around using his driveway, Hartman said. He questioned why a commercial business is allowed in a residential area, and how emergency vehicles would get through when the street is choked with parked cars on both sides.

Thirteen neighbors signed a petition calling for a change.

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Baard Webster, co-owner of the Farm, said he was unaware of the petition and that parking was approved as part of their special use permit, granted in 2015.

“Neighbors just want to see us gone,” Webster said.

Bill Huppert (1163 Walnut St.) said neighbors don’t want the farm to disappear, but want laws enforced, dealing with parking and beer and wine sales.

Diane Webster, also a farm co-owner, was surprised to hear the neighbors’ complaints as she had heard nothing negative from them in conversations.

Mayor David Hovel reviewed minutes from the April 27, 2015 council meeting, when Borner’s special use permit was approved. Special use permits allow businesses to be located in residential areas, Hovel said.

The pizza nights seem to be growing in popularity, it was agreed. Diane Webster said 13-14 of the culinary events are held per summer, with the most pizzas served in one night numbering 149. Hovel said that means up to 300 people could be attending per Friday night, which Webster disputed. Discussion ping-ponged between supporting small business, resident expectations when buying homes in a neighborhood, reducing traffic and children running between parked cars.

Ultimately, the council granted the special use permit with a Class B beer and Class C wine license for 2016-2017, contingent on working with Police Chief Gary Krutke on parking restriction for one side of Walnut Street. Borner Farm must also provide the council a tally of pizza night attendees for the remainder of the 2016 season.

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