County zoning board approves church for Skyline Bar, restaurant in Cascade; denies permit for meat processing facility

The Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the special use permit for a church to move into the old Skyline Bar during their May 20 meeting.

They also approved a permit for the Missouri River Bar and Grill in Cascade.

The board denied a permit application for a butcher shop in Fort Shaw.

Church looking to renovate old Skyline Bar

The ZBOA approved the permit application from Ron Erpelding to turn the old Skyline Bar into a worship facility.

Erpelding is the pastor at Praise Tabernacle and originally submitted the permit application in 2019 but the buy-sell agreement with the property owners, Dennis Stefani and the Estate of Zollie Kelman didn’t go through at the time, according to Charity Yonker, county planning director.

She said they’ve come to a new agreement and have picked up the project where they left off.

Multiple projects in the works near Great Falls airport

Erpelding is proposing to use the existing structure, which has been vacant for years, “clean it up and bring back life to this area. Our hope is that this new worship facility will improve the look and value of the property and all the adjoining properties,” according to his application. The structure was built in 1987, according to the county staff report.

Construction has already begun on a neighboring parcel, for a commercial office/shop within the Doran Park Subdivision, and is visible from the interstate. Construction is also underway on the new Love’s Travel Stop at the I-15 airport interchange.

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Under county zoning regulations, a worship facility is allowed in the commercial zoning district with a special use permit.

During the meeting, there was some discussion regarding whether allowing the church would impact any future development in the area should someone want to open a bar or casino since state law restricts the sale of alcohol and casinos within 600 feet of worship facilities.

State law allows a municipality or county to enact its own ordinance or resolution related to where alcohol may or may not be sold. So far, the county has not enacted such an ordinance or resolution.

Last year, the City Commission adopted an ordinance that removes the 600 foot rule for alcohol sales in certain zoning districts.

Cascade County zoning regulations specifically restrict casinos within 600 feet of worship facilities and churches.

City Commission approves downtown church permit; removes distance requirement for alcohol sales from churches

The church intends to use existing infrastructure, including the parking lot. They’ll replace signage but design plans for the building are still in the works, according to the 2019 permit application.

Annexation approved for Love’s truck stop near airport

In a letter from Ron Hall, assistant director of the Great Falls International Airport Authority, airport officials are not against the permit but provided comments about the future for potential traffic conflict with the Montana Air National Guard and discussion of potentially closing Airport Avenue B in the future and relocating the intersection to a new major intersection being constructed by Love’s.

Hall wrote that there is also the potential that the airport would ask private property owners who are using Airport Avenue for access to contribute to the maintenance costs for the road and other associated infrastructure costs.

The ZBOA approved the permit application for the Missouri River Bar and Grille at 2474 Old U.S. Highway 91.

The ZBOA conditionally approved the same project in September 2019 and in September 2020, the planning department granted a one-time six months extension to March 2021. No further extension was requested to the permit lapsed and the applicant had to reapply and go through the process again.

The ZBOA denied a permit application from Dennis Skinner for a commercial butcher operation at 176 Mill Coulee Road in Fort Shaw.

Under the county zoning regulations, a butcher operation cannot be within one mile of other residences and Skinner’s proposal is within a mile of six residences so he requested a variance for that rule.

Variances require that the following conditions exist, according to the county zoning regulations, that the variance isn’t contrary to the public interest; a literal enforcement would result in unnecessary hardship, owning to conditions unique to the property; the spirit of the regulation section would be observed and “substantial justice done by granting the variance.”

According to the application, Skinner intended to process up to six cattle per day, five days per week. The 1,600-square-foot facility would use up to 3,000 gallons per day from the existing well, which produces about 22 gallons per minute, according to the staff report.

The applicant provided a hand-drawn design for the proposed building on his property and a number of area residents spoke in opposition to the project with concerns that it would be a large slaughter operation.

County ZBOA approves two meat processing facilities

In November 2020, the ZBOA approved permits for two larger meat processing facilities, one near Ulm and one in Cascade, with no opposition.