Feedlot one step closer

Commissioners have 30 days to give decision to county planner

Phillips County Board of Adjustment made a recommendation that the Phillips County Board of Commissioners approve a conditional use permit for Weldco Farms LLC with conditions.

The recommendation was made Wednesday evening, Sept. 2, when the board of adjustment resumed its public hearing that was recessed Monday, July 27. More than 75 people attended the half-hour presentation at Phillips County Event Center last week.

Following the recommendation, the board of commissioners have 30 days to approve, deny or modify the recommendation and provide their decision to the county planner, Pamela Jensen.

The planner will then have 30 days to provide the decision to Weldco Farms LLC.

Aurora Organic Farms is proposing to construct a commercial feedlot southwest of Holyoke that will house 7,000 dairy heifers when fully operational.

The piece of land in question is less than 160 acres in Section 22, which is currently zoned A2. The application asked for its use to be changed from farmland to animal feeding.

Since the July 27 hearing, the board of adjustment has been reviewing public comments, researching concerns and taking a tour of the company’s facility in Weld County.

“This has been a painstaking process,” said Keith Sagehorn, a member of the board of adjustment.

Others on the board are Bill Fuesz, Mark Lutze, Pat Meakins and LeRoy Michael.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Commissioner Terry Hofmeister publicly thanked the board for their hours of hard work and reminded those in attendance that the board members are all volunteers.

Also present at the hearing were Commissioners Harlan Stern and Don Lock.

In addition to county regulations already in place, the board of adjustment has the ability to recommend imposing other conditions found necessary to protect the best interest of the surrounding property or the county as a whole.

County attorney Tamara Kelley told the crowd that the board of adjustment’s proposed conditions would not be made available to the public prior to the county’s final decision because the conditions are subject to legal negotiations.

At Wednesday’s presentation, the board of adjustment addressed several concerns that they heard during the public comment period. Their response included:

— The water use proposed is approximately 15% less than the historic use on the property.

— The Colorado state health department monitors and regulates contaminants in water, and Weldco Farms LLC agreed to the monitoring of groundwater.

— The property is and will continue to be organic regardless of the board of adjustment’s recommendation.

— Aurora Organic Farms has a parasite prevention and control plan, and when the board of adjustment toured a large facility in Weld County, they did not experience unusual levels of nuisance.

— Weld County officials said there was an increase in property values when Aurora Organic Farms established a facility there.

— Taxes to be paid to Phillips County are estimated at $85,000 to $120,000 annually.

— Combined annual salaries of approximately $430,000 will add to Phillips County’s economic growth.

— Job opportunities will be available for eight to 12 employees.

— With numerous existing feedlot and dairy facilities in Phillips County, the county has an agricultural-based economy, and Aurora Organic Farms fits that profile.

Following the board of adjustment’s presentation last Wednesday, the public was given 10 minutes to ask questions regarding the process of the conditional use permit.

This month’s regular commissioner meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9; Friday, Sept. 18; and Wednesday, Sept. 30, at the courthouse. The agenda is posted at phillipscounty.colorado.gov a couple of days before the meeting. The board hears unscheduled public comments from 9:05-9:30 a.m. at each meeting.

Holyoke Enterprise

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PO Box 297
Holyoke CO 80734