Madison Food Park application on hold for next six months

It will likely be another six months before the amended special use permit is submitted for the proposed Madison Food Park.

In a letter received by the Cascade County Planning Department on Monday, Edward Friesen wrote, “it is expected that an amendment(s) will follow in the next 180 days approximately, depending on the length of time it takes to receive further information, required for amending the SUP(s).”

[READ: Friesen’s letter to county planning on status of the Madison Food Park]

That means the process remains on hold until an amended SUP application has been submitted to the county. No hearings will be scheduled until the SUP application is submitted.

Overall, the project will take seven to 10 years to complete, according to Friesen’s recent letter.

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“We are determined that the development and growth of our contemplated state-of-the-art facilities will be conducted in a responsible and ethical way,” Friesen wrote in his letter. “This gradual process will enable the county and surrounding communities to absorb, adjust and accommodate the infrastructure demands, with the lease amount of interference or negative impact to accustomed lifestyles of local citizens.”

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The project will also likely require multiple SUPs since the Cascade County zoning regulations require a separate SUP for each tract of land. According to state records, Madison Food Park is listed as a contract buyer for 16 separate tracts in the area they’re proposing to build.

In the initial application and followup presentations, Friesen has indicated plans to start with the cheese processing facility and ramp up to the slaughterhouse facilities.

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The company doesn’t raise livestock, Friesen wrote in his letter, “therefore we must align and partner with Montana-based and family-owned ranchers, milk producers, livestock producers and grain growers with similar goals.”

The letter makes no mention of project spokesman Todd Hanson’s recent split from the project.

Friesen is taking the additional time to “assemble information in order to evaluate qualified industry professionals, scientific technologies, robotic systems and the best methods to implement these technologies into our proposed Food Park Campus,” according to his letter to county planning officials.

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Since the winter months, a spokesman for the project had said the MFP team was working with CLEARAS Water Recovery out of Missoula to reduce water needs and waste at the complex. No additional information about how that partnership might impact the project has yet been made public.

The Madison Food Park project would be the largest of its kind in the region, but a similar, smaller scale multi-species processing plant was approved by county officials in the Wabuska area of Lyon County in Nevada. The project was planned for 1,7000 acres and would process cattle, hogs, sheep and goats. The plant was projected to process 1,000 head of cattle; 2,000 hogs and 500 sheep and goats daily, according to local media reports.

According to one of the construction companies involved in the Walker River Meat Processing Plant project, the plant would be expandable to 2,500 cattle per day; 5,000 hogs per day and 1,250 sheep and goats.

The plant was to use solar and geothermal power and treat water onsite. It was also expected to have an aerobic digester to process manure and use methane gas to power the generators running the facility, according to those local media reports.

Jeffery Page, the Lyon County manager, told The Electric that the plant has not been built since the developer has had funding issues.

In Cascade County, MFP has been proposing to process about 1,800 head of cattle, 9,200 hogs and 135,000 chickens daily.

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Should the amended SUP applications be submitted and the Zoning Board of Adjustment were to approve the permits, the company would still be required to get approvals from a number of state and federal agencies, such as the Montana Department of Transportation, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

So far, the water rights have not been secured for the amount of water Friesen indicated the project would require in the original application. Madison Food Park has been added to the water rights associated with the properties where it proposes to build. Those water rights date to 1932 but are for livestock purposes with a flow rate of 30 gallons daily per head.