City looking at options to evaluate potential impacts of proposed Madison Food Park

During Jan. 21 City Commission meeting, Eric Ray reviewed the efforts by neighborhood councils on resolutions asking the city to conduct a study on the potential impacts of the proposed Madison Food Park.

In the fall, Neighborhood Council 5, chaired by Ray, adopted a resolution calling for such a study and subsequently, Neighborhood Councils 1, 2, 3 and 4 joined the same resolution. Councils 8 and 9 adopted a resolution written by Council 9; Council 6 and 7 adopted their own, but all asked the city to study the potential impacts on the city.
Council of Councils discusses Madison Food Park; Council 4 joins Council 5 in asking city to study potential impact

City Commissioner Mary Moe applauded Council 5 for its leadership on the issue and the other councils for bringing it forward.

“I think they’re doing just what we hope neighborhood councils would do,” she said.
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The discussions on the proposed food processing complex have been charged and some of the resolutions make remarks that some would quibble with, she said.

Some of the resolutions state that the city has been silent on the proposed complex and Moe said she hopes that is not equated to being idle.
Application submitted for distillery, the second phase of proposed Madison Food Park

Moe said she’s attended public meetings on the permit applications, checked public comments that involved the city and done some light research on communities that have food processing plants. She said most of those weren’t comparable since they only process one animal or are smaller scale plants.

“So there are questions out there about what the impacts would be,” Moe said.
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She said the city has not been idle and City Manager Grey Doyon has spoken to city managers in cities that have had successes with processing plants and if there were any studies done. Those cities did not conduct studies, but staff has learned about the experience in those communities through the discussions.

Doyon also sent out feelers on what such a study would cost and there were only two respondents, one of whom lost interest quickly, Moe said.

The estimate was $100,000 or more.
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Moe said that with that money, the city could hire 1.5 to 2 police officers with that money, but that a study would still be worthwhile “because the longterm impacts are so important for use to understand.”

But the lingering concern is what effect the study would have since the city is not the decision making body on the proposed project.
Neighborhood Council 5 asks city to study potential impact of proposed Madison Food Park

Moe said she’s working on a proposal for some form of study that wouldn’t be city funded and that she hopes to bring it to next week’s Council of Councils meeting and then to the City Commission for consideration.

“I think the concerns that you raise are concerns that should be raised,” Moe told Ray and other neighborhood councils members.

Moe said that in some cases the comments have gone too far, particularly when people are receiving death threats.

‘This is an issue that calls for calm consideration,” Moe said.