County approves permit extensions for Big Sky Cheese, Silver Falls Distillery
The Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment approved 24-month extensions of the special use permits for Big Sky Cheese and Silver Falls Distillery, both components of the proposed Madison Food Park project between Great Falls and Belt.
The board considered both extension requests during their Sept. 16 meeting.
The county Zoning Board of Adjustment approved the special use permit for Silver Falls Distillery in May 2020 and the approved the SUP for Big Sky Cheese in August 2019, with 17 conditions.
The developer, Madison Food Park, appealed some of those conditions and the County Commission adjusted them. But locals took the issue to court and the district court ruled against the county in November so the conditions revert to those of the ZBOA from 2019.
The county reissued the notice of conditional approval on Dec. 10, 2020 for the Big Sky Cheese SUP, which was set to expire Dec. 10, 2021.
In a letter to the county planning department, Ed Friesen, the managing member of Big Sky Cheese and Silver Falls Distillery, wrote that “we are presently working to address and resolve the SUP’s conditions of approval. Some of these conditions require permitting from Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality, and the review and approval processes associated with the permits are anticipated to take many months to complete. Further complicating the schedule during the past ~18 months has been the owner’s ability to conduct normal business affairs related to the project as a result of travel restrictions.”
With the ZBOA approval, the Big Sky Cheese permit has been extended to Dec. 10, 2023.
The permit for Silver was set to expire in June 2021 and the owner requested a six month extension, which was set to expire November 2021. With the ZBOA approval, that permit has been extended to Nov. 29, 2023.
During the Sept. 16 meeting, Joe Murphy of Big Sky Civil and Environmental, the local firm on the project, said that “as you can imagine with a project this size and the complexities involved and working through the various regulatory bodies, it’s been a challenge,” and more so with the pandemic.
Brett Doney of the Great Falls Development Authority said they’re working with the two projects on financing and “unique permitting issues.”
He said, “the pandemic has just set us way back.”
There was no other public comment on either request.
Here’s background on these two projects:
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