By Brian D. Bridgeford
ROCK SPRINGS — The Village Board will have to upgrade its half-century-old zoning code before a proposed big cat refuge can be properly regulated, the village attorney said Monday.
Reedsburg attorney James Gerlach spoke with board members about their January vote allowing Jeff Kozlowski and his 24 lions, tigers and leopards to move onto land owned by former village President Dorothy Coens.
Board members could accept the refuge as a concept, he said, but the village’s 1940s-era zoning code has no provisions for a public wildlife park.
Kozlowski has been searching for a new home for his refuge since Sauk County officials said his facility did not meet zoning standards.
The board needs to approve zoning laws which would allow them to issue a permit to have the refuge within the existing agriculture/residential zoning district, Gerlach said. Board members also need to decide on requirements for the refuge such as hours of operation and lighting, Gerlach said.
Gerlach said he has already prepared changes to the zoning code and can bring them to the board’s March meeting.
Board President Charles Kissack directed the village’s Ordinance Committee to develop proposed conditions for the refuge and present them to the rest of the board next month.
Kozlowski complained that two Ordinance Committee members oppose the refuge.
Trustee Edward Buck, who voted to allow it, reminded him the entire board votes on the requirements for the refuge’s permit.
“It has to be fair,” he said. “It will be about what’s right for the village.”
The board meets again at 7 p.m., March 19.