County approves special use permit for honey processing

The Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment voted Thursday to approve a special use permit for Treasure State Honey in Fort Shaw.

The owner, Jim Savoy, is proposing to add a honey processing facility to his property, which already includes an apiary and a gravel mine that was used by Shumaker Trucking and Excavating.

Savoy said the new facility will allow the company to extract and jar honey on-site. They’ve also started infusing honey and creating other value-added products, he said. They started with chockcherry infused honey and will be adding huckleberry. They’ll also make candles with the wax.

The new facility will add about four more jobs for nine months out of the year.

Traffic impacts on Dracut Hill Road are expected to be minimal, according to Savoy and planning staff, though there could be a handful of semis annually to transport the bees to warmer weather.

Bill Austin, ZBOA member, asked if there was any concern over bees in the area and Savoy said the bees have already been there for some time and aren’t typically aggressive.

Smoot Honey, another local honey company, also has hives in the area, one is about a mile north and the other is about three-quarters of a mile west, Savoy said.

“Bees are gonna be around,” he said, but if there are any complaints, he works with neighbors to address the issue. So far, he said, he hasn’t had any complaints.

There was some confusion over whether there was a violation to the special use permit issued for the property in 2015 related to the original site plan for the honey facility and the gravel mine on the property. Staff was further researching that issue with plans to send a letter to the property owner requesting additional information and whether they need to amend their permits to remain in compliance. Planning staff said an issue with the gravel mine appeared to be in violation of the Department of Environmental Quality permit, which is outside the county’s jurisdiction.