The North Platte Planning Commission will take public comments Tuesday about a plan to build a plant for Sustainable Beef, LLC along Newberry Road on the east side of the city.

The hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at City Hall, 211 W. Third St.

The Sustainable Beef company intends to build a processing facility capable of handling 400,000 head of cattle annually. Direct employment is estimated at 875 full-time staff. If the planning commission recommends the project, it will move toward approval by the city council.

The planning commission will take public comments on whether the real estate is in conformance with the city’s comprehensive plan, if the project meets or will meet subdivision and zoning regulations, and if it is an overall fit for development of the city.

For the planning commission to advance the project, the following provisions should be considered and confirmed:

• The property as presented is located in an area that has been declared blighted and substandard. There is little question about this provision. The city council declared the land blighted and substandard in April.
• The property is in conformance with the current city comprehensive zoning plan.
• The project meets or will meet subdivision and zoning regulations.
• The development of this property to its full potential is in the best interest of the city and the entire region.

The city planning staff, led by Development Director Judy Clark, said the proposed project targets the City’s Comprehensive Plan goal of creating a more diversified economic base and supports agri-business in the city and entire region.

Now, it will be up to the planning commission to take comments on the project and recommend approval or not. A detailed redevelopment plan is before them, which includes the projected economic impact but not the environmental impact of the project.

Concerns that have been heard to this point are mostly centered around odors, cultural and environmental impacts.

On Nov. 1, Mayor Brandon Kelliher, city councilmen Ty Lucas and Brad Garrick, as well as Planning Commission member David Fudge visited a similar-size beef packing plant in Kuna, Idaho to assess the amount of odors and economic impact there.

They found beneficial economic impacts, including an upscale residential housing development about 2.5 miles from the plant. They said the odors were unpleasant within a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile downwind of the plant.

Lucas said, “it does appear to me that facilities of this nature may emit some modest odors that are likely to be the most detectable at a half mile or less and generally downwind. I also think that odors may be slightly noticeable at a half-mile to mile away from the facility.” That area would include a significant portion of North Platte when the wind is strong.

Mayor Brandon Kelliher said the city will “work with developers to be sure the plant uses the best odor elimination technology, and improves the technology in Idaho.”

Kelliher also said the city should establish ordinances about odor production.

“We hope this is the first step in several industries that are going to look at coming to North Platte, almost any of which will bring the potential to cause odor,” Kelliher said. “We need to set out some expectation about what we will accept or not accept.”

Kelliher said the city administration has taken steps to contract with a company that could help identify the sources of odors and what to do about them.

“I want to make sure the decisions around Sustainable Beef are the first in a series of decisions that will affect the community for years to come,” he said. “Everyone takes these extremely seriously. We are getting the very best information to make the best decisions for the community. We won’t all agree, but the mayor, council and the committees are working to make the best decisions that we can for North Platte.”

Kelliher also said the city should be ready to deal with a spike in demand for housing.

Lucas said if the plant moves forward, the North Platte community should work with Sustainable Beef to try and lower the amount of manure spilled or dropped on the roads and ensure a plan is developed for cleaning the roads.

Lucas also thinks “we need to try and ensure that incoming truck traffic does not materially stall traffic on Newberry Road or provide problems for property owners on Golden Road (east of the proposed plant) to have trouble accessing their property.”

The planning commission will likely touch on those issues.

Also, there are three residential homes east of the plant. Those residents and land owners are concerned about flooding, odors, harm to the ecology of the confluence of the North Platte and South Platte rivers, as well as the loss of their quality of life.

In response to the concern about flooding, the redevelopment plans calls for $18 million to be spent to raise the grade of the base of the plant five feet higher than Newberry Road. There is no evidence that flood water has ever crossed Newberry.

Dee Fugate, who owns property east of the plant, recently told the Bulletin that for $18 million, the owners could probably buy land elsewhere and build in a less environmentally sensitive area.

The agenda for the meeting, including the complete redevelopment plan, can be found HERE.

The hearing will be broadcast live on You Tube, HERE.

The members of the planning commission are:

  • Jeff Bain
  • David Fudge
  • Angie Forbes
  • Tristen Winder
  • Emily Wurl
  • Nelson Jett
  • Lee Davies
  • Marilyn McGahan – chairwoman
  • Don Weber

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