County ZBOA to hold hearings on hemp facility, FWP headquarters expansion

The Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment will consider a special use permit for a hemp processing facility during their Feb. 14 meeting at 9 a.m.

Paul Leach of Venture Property and Leasing, LLC has applied for a SUP to allow a value-added agricultural commodity processing facility on this nine acre property.

Leach wrote in the application that the facility would operate 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., eventually employ six people and expect about two semis weekly.

The project would use the two existing buildings on the property, according to the handwritten application.

Hemp is authorized as an alternative agricultural crop by the Montana Legislature and the Montana Department of Agriculture does not license processors, only growers. But licenses may be required for processing from other federal and state agencies, such as health agencies, depending on the products being made.

[More information on the Montana Department of Agriculture’s industrial hemp program]

In the application, Leach wrote that they will be exploring options the processing to also produce Cannabidiol oil.

According to the application, no goods will be sold on-site and according to the county staff report, one supportive comment was received via phone about the project and no other public comments had yet been received.

County planning staff wrote in their report that no comments had been received from the Cascade City-County Health Department.

The project will use “corn ethanol, which is fully biodegradable and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline. Through this consumption, the proposed use stimulates the growth of the alternative energy economy,” according to the county staff report.

During the meeting, the ZBOA will also conduct a public hearing for comments on an expansion of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 4 Headquarters office near Giant Springs.

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The project is contrary to county zoning, but state law allows government agencies to develop contrary to zoning but most hold a public hearing for public comment on the project.

FWP is planning an office expansion with a new 2,2229 square foot office building and a 1,000 foot storage building.

The office building will be constructed on part of the existing parking lot and the septic system will be replaced, according to the application. The storage building will serve Giant Springs State Park and is proposed for construction on the west end of the parking lot.