Yampa Valley Farms seeks county permit for chicken processing plant near Milner

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What: Public hearing before Routt County Planning Commission for a special use permit to allow a chicken processing facility. The matter is tentatively set to go before the Board of County Commissioners for final consideration at 1:30 p.m. April 23.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, April 4

Where: Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave. in Steamboat Springs.

— The owners of Yampa Valley Farms go to the Routt County Planning Commission on Thursday night seeking a permit to process as many as 150 locally pastured chickens a week in an existing steel garage west of Milner.

Josh Kilbane and Kirsty Waterworth don't plan to sell the chickens at the site on the north side of U.S. Highway 40; their beef, pork and poultry meats are available at a handful of local stores as well as at the Farmers Market this summer.

Kilbane anticipates the facility could process as many as 5,000 chickens annually. The chickens are pastured on a farm in the Elk River Valley that has been out of production for 30 years, Waterworth said Wednesday.

Waterworth said the farm has made the transition entirely to a French breed of chicken, the Freedom Ranger, which thrives on pasturing.

“I originally started this because I didn’t want to feed store-bought chicken to my children,” she said. “It’s hard to go back once you’ve tasted a pastured chicken and experienced the texture.”

The chickens are available frozen from Yampa Valley Co-op at $3.50 a pound as well as at Bamboo Market and Steamboat’s summertime Farmers Market. Local restaurants that serve some of Yampa Valley Farms’ meat products include The Laundry, Sweet Pea Café and Creekside Cafe.

According to a report to the Planning Commission by county staff planner Alan Goldich, Yampa Valley Farms proposes to deliver the chickens in a horse trailer from the pastures where they are raised to the 960-square-foot garage. Once butchered, the chickens would be stored in a walk-in freezer. Goldich said all waste would be removed from the site in cisterns to be composted on the ranch where the chickens live, before being applied to the fields.

“The applicant expects to employ two or three people to begin with and may have up to four employees working on site,” Goldich wrote.

He added that Yampa Valley Farms is consulting with the Routt County Regional Building Department, the Department of Environmental Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Division of Water Resources to obtain the necessary permits and approvals.

Plans are to operate the facility two to three days a week between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., with no weekend operations.

“It is our will to construct this plant to all agency specifications as well as adhering to all local building, plumbing and electrical codes,” Kilbane wrote. “We will be hiring the proper professionals in each field to help with design and implementation of the design.”

Water engineer Erin Light of the Division of Water Resources wrote informally to Goldich making him aware that the permit for an existing water well on the site does allow commercial application of the water. Use of the well water in a poultry processing facility would require a new well permit.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Chicken processing plant near Milner

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