Meat-packing plans withdrawn

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A plan for a meat-packing plant in Milner has been withdrawn from the Routt County Planning Department.

Proposed by local rancher Doug Matthews, the application for a meat-packing plant was scheduled to be heard before the Routt County Commissioners today. County Planner John Eastman said Matthews withdrew the application Monday.

Earlier this month, the Routt County Planning Commission unanimously recommended denying the application after hearing concerns from potential neighbors of the plant.

Matthews' proposal was for a meat-packing plant in the northeast corner of Milner in an area zoned commercial. The facility, which the planning department indicated would be similar to a meat department in a supermarket, was considered a light industrial use.

The commissioners were being asked to approve a special-use permit for the plant.

At the Planning Commission meeting May 6, neighbors voiced concerns about the plant's effects on the water supply and wastewater system, safety, traffic and the quiet atmosphere in Milner. The potential for decreased property values was another concern.

Matthews intended to sell the meat from the plant under his own River Ranches Beef label. The cattle would have been slaughtered at an existing Craig facility, and the carcasses would have been trucked to the Milner site.

At the plant, the meat would have been processed into different cuts and hamburger patties and would have been packaged.

Mountain Meats and Saus-age in Craig previously had processed the meat, but Matthews said he wanted greater control over the fabrication and packaging process.

The River Ranches Beef label is an all-natural beef line. In the planning report, East-man noted the light industrial use would create significantly less impacts than many uses that the commercial zoning would allow.

Planning commissioners recommended denying the application based on the community's concerns, the water availability and the amount of meat that was to be processed.

In the letter to the planning department, Matthews noted that he was going to use only half of the building, with the other half being used for storage. If the other side were to open in the future, he indicated, he might have wanted to have a slaughter facility on site.

He later said he did not anticipate pursuing such an option.

In his application, Matthews also indicated, there would be no noise, odors or late hours on the site. Retail sales also would not have occurred.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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