County zoning board approves two projects; denies feedlot variance

The Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment voted to approve two projects and deny one variance during their Aug. 17 meeting.

The board approved a special use permit for the construction of a warehouse on a property at the corner of 57th Street and 3rd Avenue South.

The applicant, Admiral Beverage, is planning to build a new warehouse to replace their current warehouse at 933 38th St. N. for their wholesale beverage distribution.

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The board also approved a special use permit for a storage unit facility for recreational vehicles, boats and trailers.

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The proposed facility is off Highway 89, just southeast of Malmstrom Air Force Base’s runway.

The board voted to deny a variance request for a Sun River property owner looking to operate a feedlot with about 1,000 head of cattle.

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According to the county planning department, the county received a complaint alleging that Aaron Birky, the property owner, was causing a public nuisance by operating a concentrated animal feeding operation with more than 300 head of cattle within close proximity of a neighboring residence and property line.

The complainant provided drone footage of newly constructed corrals and several hundred cows, according to the county planning office.

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Birke said in his application that he placed his feedlot as far as he could from other area residences.

The county planning office sent a notice of alleged violation dated June 13 to Birke, who applied for a special use permit for a wholesale feedlot to come into compliance with current county zoning regulations.

The regulations require a one-mile buffer between a feedlot and existing residences, which cannot be met on this property, so Birke applied for a variance from that rule, according to county planning.

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County planning staff told the board that Birke’s property doesn’t have any peculiar conditions and that the “applicant failed to check with our department prior to establishing a wholesale feedlot to ensure compliance with zoning regulations and had this been done the applicant would know that a wholesale feedlot would not be allowable at this location given the surrounding residences. The applicant has not demonstrated the property has any unique physical conditions that would cause an unnecessary and/or undue hardship to justify stabling of animals within one mile of adjacent residences for a wholesale feedlot.”

Several people spoke in favor of the variance and permit because feedlots are needed in the agriculture business chain to keep more activity and revenue in Montana.

Several area neighbors spoke in opposition to the project due to smells, environmental impacts and other concerns.

The board voted to deny the variance application stating that the county zoning regulations applied to all. Since they didn’t approve the variance, the property remains in violation of the zoning and county regulations prohibit issuance of a special use permit when there are existing violations, according to Charity Yonker, county planning director.

If Birke opts to appeal the decision, he can appeal to the County Commission or district court.