Meat plant not recommended |

Meat plant not recommended

Residents cheer against proposal, express variety of concerns

Susan Cunningham

The Routt County Planning Commission recommended Thursday that a proposal for a meat-packing plant in Milner be denied.

The recommendation was followed by cheers and applause from the crowd of mostly Milner residents who packed the hearing room.

Many residents told the Planning Commission they had concerns about the proposal, including effects on the water supply and wastewater system, safety, traffic and the quiet atmosphere in Milner. The potential for decreased property values because of the project was another concern.

Planning Commissioner Fred Nichols made the motion to deny the proposal, which came from local rancher Doug Matthews and was for a facility similar to a meat department in supermarkets, where beef carcasses are cut and processed.

All five planning commissioners agreed to recommend denial.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will have the final decision May 24.

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Before making the motion, Nichols said he was unsure about what to recommend for the proposal, which he said seemed like a clean, simple operation.

“I’m having a hard time with this, because I believe in supporting people who farm and ranch in Routt County,” he said. “I believe that’s one of our charges.

“But people of Milner have spoken very well … with a lot of emotion.”

He said he made the motion to deny because of concerns about water availability and because of the “very concerned community.”

Planning Commissioner Gary Miller said the meat-packing facility, which was proposed to handle as many as 50 carcasses a day, belongs in a growth center.

“I feel that changing from commercial to industrial in this area is not appropriate at this time,” Miller said.

Planning Commission Chair-man Donald Alperti said he was most concerned that the applicant said he might use the facility for only three years. He said he wasn’t sure such a short-term use was worth the hassle.

Matthews sells his beef under his own River Ranches Beef label. Doing his own meat fabrication would mean better quality control and saved money, he said.

The processing facility was proposed for a metal building in the northeast corner of Milner that already is zoned commercial. The facility would have been considered light industrial.

Milner resident Matt Cretney said that he thought there was not a solid plan for the facility and that it wasn’t appropriate for Milner.

“Why Milner? Why there?” he asked.

Nina James, who has a home on Spruce Street in Milner, said she was sure the facility would create offensive odors, as she had lived near meat-packing plants before.

“This is not going to be a good thing for the people living there,” she said.

Resident Kris Dodd said that people in Milner had been working hard to improve their homes and that a meat facility could make property values plummet.

Many other residents spoke, and the crowd clapped after most comments against the proposal.

Letters submitted to the county expressed concern that the meat-packing facility eventually could become a slaughterhouse. Matthews originally said that was something he considered for the future, but he later said he did not anticipate pursuing such an operation.

That issue was not prominent in Thursday’s hearing.

Also on Thursday, the Planning Commission recommended for approval a permit that allows Karrie’s Kick-Ass Katering to open a summer barbecue stand on U.S. Highway 40 between the Shop and Hop gas station and the Mt. Werner Veterinary Hospital, as well as an official permit for the Elk Mountain Cemetery.

— To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail

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