Cheese processing plant proposed as first part of Madison Food Park; application submitted to Cascade County planning

The county planning office received an application last week from Big Sky Cheese, LLC on property owned by Madison Food Park.

The county received the application on April 25. It was posted on the county website April 29.

The application is for a value-added agricultural commodity processing facility for a cheese processing plant.

The application will go through the Zoning Board of Adjustment for approval, but no hearing has been scheduled yet.

Madison Food Park application on hold for next six months

It’s been almost a year since Madison Food Park submitted a letter to the county indicating it would be about 180 days, or six months, before the developers were ready to proceed.

Big Sky Cheese map

The Electric inquired about the status of this project on April 19 and on April 23, county planners said Edward Friesen/Madison Food Park approached the planning office for a pre-application meeting in January but had not yet submitted an application.

The project will be considered under the zoning regulations currently in effect.

Earlier this month, the county planning board directed planning staff to review the growth policy and effectively put staff’s proposed changes to the zoning regulations on hold.

County reviewing growth policy

Big Sky Cheese is applying for a special use permit, which has a $450 fee.

According to the application, Madison Food Park’s principal owners intend to develop Big Sky Cheese as a value added dairy/cheese processing facility.

“The scope and scale of the proposed Big Sky Cheese project will include, when complete, a state-of-the art, environmentally friendly facility for the processing of fresh milk supplied by local and regional dairy producers into a variety of cheese products,” according to the application. “The principals of MFP anticipate that when the development is complete and the facilities are operating at full capacity, the cheese and dairy facility will create approximately 5-10 employment opportunities for laborers as well as skilled and management level positions.”

Big Sky Cheese registered with the Montana Secretary of State on April 16 and the registered agent is Church Harris, a Great Falls law firm, which is also the registered agent for Madison Food Park and is listed on the Big Sky Cheese application.

The proposed project includes a new processing building that will be about 20,000 square feet, according to the application, and access to the site will be from U.S. Highway 89.

County staff report for March 26 zoning meeting is posted online

The facility would operate 260 days per year and a typical processing day would be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with facility cleaning and maintenance throughout the day as well as 4-7 p.m. each evening and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. according to the application.

The facility will also include a small retail area for sampling and purchasing cheese products. The retail area will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the application.

Madison Food Park developers take questions at Great Falls neighborhood council meeting

The developers anticipate traffic based on a delivery capacity of 8,000 gallons to be 1.35 milk delivery trucks daily; 1.21 liquid whey delivery trucks daily; 1 value added cheese delivery trucks daily; 2 supply trucks weekly; 1-2 trucks daily for lab samples and packages; 1 mail truck daily and two trucks weekly for garbage/refuse. That totals about 6.86 trucks daily and about 35 weekly, according to the application.